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Yes: A Brief Note

Persuasion as science, not art

6 universal principles of social influence:

1. we feel obligated to returns values created by others for us (reciprocation)

2. we often seek experts who show us the way to do things (authority)

3. we often try to act consistently with our commitment and values (commitment/ consistency)

4. we want rare things (scarcity)

5. we want to say yes to people we like (liking)

6. we look to others for clues of what to do (social proof)


*** The case studies below apply/ show the above principles. Read if you have an interest.

Exciting case studies where principles mentioned above are used

1. Environmental protection message at hotels: the number of people who recycle their towels increases when the message tells that the majority of guests at the hotel reused their towels at least once during their stay.

2. Fear can paralyze people instead of persuading them to take action: college students who read pamphlets filled with frightening images of tetanus infection were paralyzed without taking appropriate actions (helplessness). Meanwhile, pamphlets with explicit instruction of what to do to prevent it stimulated them to take measures to reduce the threat.

3. Diners who got candies from the waiter after the meal give more tips when the gifts are unexpected and presented in a personalized manner.

4. To make your request sound more persuasive, carefully select the wording and remind the other of the values you bring them in the past. >> “How useful was the report I sent you last time?”

5. Start low or high in the business of offering goods and service via competitive bidding? >> start low

because (1) lower barrier allows more participants and (2) more traffic, reflecting high social proof and valuable goods/ services and (3) bidders are likely to spend more time updating their bids and keep their commitment.

6. The risk of being the brightest person in the room: Decision making rooted in collective opinions is often better than individual judgement. Vote-counting, however, is not a good strategy in decision making. The final decision should be made by the leader who already seeks input collectively from members.

7. The risk of being seen as the brightest person in the room - A lesson from Captainitis: captainitis is a deadly passivity from crew members when they view the captain as the best decision-maker. Data, however, reveals many disastrous mistakes of apparent errors made by an airline captain. So, when leaders fail to ask for input from team members or when team members fail to raise their voice, a poor cycle of decision-making occurs.

8. Groupthink is a kind of group decision-making style where people feel like they should in agreement and maintain the cohesiveness of the whole group. Authoritarian leaders often fall into this kind of decision-making style, leading to biased information, failure in seeking alternative choices and risks that people try to please the top.

9. Firefighters who underwent error-based training shows more improvement than firefighters who underwent error-free training.

10. The influence of similarity: We're most likely to follow the behaviours of those whom we are personal characteristics (values, beliefs, age and gender, etc.)

Subtle similarities such as name can also make a difference.

11. Mirrors can be used to make people behave in a more socially desirable way.

12. Being sad (emotionally negative) makes your negotiations bad.

13. Women are more persuaded in person while men are not effected much regardless of the communication medium.


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