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Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini - 3 Big Ideas

Wow, what a cool book!


Welcome to 3 Things You Can Use, where Maddi and I analyze the worlds of self-improvement and entrepreneurship through books, three things at a time. This week's book is Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, by Robert Cialdini.

"...(In this book,) using the same combination of rigorous scientific research and accessibility that made Influence an iconic bestseller, Robert Cialdini explains how to capitalize on the essential window of time before you deliver an important message. This “privileged moment for change” prepares people to be receptive to a message before they experience it. Optimal persuasion is achieved only through optimal pre-suasion. In other words, to change “minds” a pre-suader must also change “states of mind.”"

(^From Amazon)

So, what are three things we can use from this book?

3 Things You Can Use

1. The Influence of Environment

Different things in our environment have different effects on us. These effects are usually hidden to us and not consciously thought about. They come in the form of associations.

An example of an association would be apple is associated with fruit, among other associations.

But the associations in our environment come as cues and effects. A bedroom is associated with sleep. For example, when I enter my bedroom I must move quickly toward the bed because if I don't I'll drop unconsciously to the floor because of how strongly my bedroom is associated with sleep, for me.

Robert Cialdini gives us examples for how these environmental associations can change our moods, dispositions, states of minds and can, what he calls, commission the machinery in our behalf,


To approach a task with an achievement orientation, while perhaps at work, have contact with images of success and striving in accomplishment, such as a runner in a race or even, a cat poster with a big word across the bottom: "SUCCESS"

To give yourself a more analytical mindset, while figuring a budget maybe, give yourself an environment of contemplation or thoughtfulness with things such as a statue (or poster) of Auguste Rodin's The Thinker.

For a more humanitarian motivation, have posters of pictures of those humanitarian causes that you wish to effect, like a group of under-fed children standing together.

Change your environment and associations with your environment and genuinely affect your framing and feelings.

2. The Power of Metaphor

The pen is greater than the sword and the most effective method of the pen is: Metaphor.

Using imagery and analogy to compare a difficult concept with a more common one.

Metaphors are extremely useful and have been helping people with difficult concepts since the curtain of humanity opened.

But a metaphor also provides a framework and a context, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not, that affects the concept for which the metaphor is supposed to simplify.

For example, when people were presented the concept of crime as a ravaging beast, they were likely to see the solution as locking up the criminals. But when they were presented crime as a raging virus, the solution was far from locking people up, and was much more preventative.

You cage a ravaging beast and you prevent a ravaging virus. These two different implications came from metaphors of the same concept, so you can see how dangerous and/or influential this can be.

So you have to be careful with metaphor but you can also see how you can use it to frame your concepts the way you want to, while still being ethical of course.

3. Examples

And for the third thing you can use, here are a number of pre-suasive examples from the scientific studies in the book:

If we want them to buy a box of expensive chocolates, get them to write down a number much larger than the price of the chocolates.If we want them to choose a bottle of French wine, we can expose them to French background music before they decide.If we want them to agree to try an untested product, we can first inquire whether they consider themselves to be adventurous.If we want them to select a highly popular item, we can begin by showing them a scary movie.If we want them to feel warmly to us, we can hand them a hot drink.If we want them to be more helpful to us, we can have them look at photos of individuals standing close together.If we want them to be more achievement oriented, we can provide them with an image of a runner running a race.

These all work, and they all work for many varying reasons, but what they do have in common is that they are all under the category of pre-suasion. They initially color peoples' states to be more beneficial to the desired end result.


Use associations to optimize your environment

Use metaphor to control your meanings

and color peoples' states with pre-suasion, ethically of course.

Robert Cialdini actually does include a chapter on the reasons not to use the principles in his book unethically, and makes a strong case for how it is actually ruinous to be manipulative and in-genuine.

I loved this book. It was like reading Malcolm Gladwell, my favorite author. Interesting studies and stories latticed with interesting concepts and principles all under the framework of psychology.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in psychology, either the psychology of people all together or just your own psychology.

And a question of the day: What would you think is a good pre-suasion to use? either on yourself or others. comment below

Thank you for reading/watching! Subscribe so you don't miss next week's book, and we'll see you next week!

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Punching Sounds by: Mike Koenig

Reading Photo at end of video by: Marketa

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