Robert Cialdini is the author of the book ‘Influence’ which came out in 1984. It is an essential book for anyone who communicates, who delivers a message, who’s in marketing.

There are several key factors and principles that Robert talks about. He talks about 6 specific principles. If you need to convince someone of your viewpoint and help them change their behavior, you’re in business or marketing, this is an essential book that you’re going to want to understand. I recommend that you read it.

In this video, I’m going to give you a brief overview of the main points.

Robert Cialdini’s book, ‘Influence’, came out in 1984 and I am continually surprised by the number of people that are continuously referring back to this book. I was just going through Guy Kawasaki’s new book and he was going back to this original work from 1984 and highlighting several of the key principles that they are just as valid today as they were in 1984 when this book originally came out.


Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings.


In my mind, that says that the principles that are in here, are not changing with the technology. In fact, I think that some of the technology is having a greater impact on some of these principles and only making them more relevant today than they were in 1984. This is going to be a key book for anyone who needs to understand how people think.

Robert came up with six principles that describe people’s automatic behavior when they are given different situations. If you can understand some of those key automatic behaviors, it is going to give you a lot of advantage when you are trying to develop marketing materials, helping someone change their behavior, and just in any aspect of your life. When you are trying to communicate a message, understanding these principles are going to be a key aspect of that.

So in his book, Robert talks about six main principles:

  1. Commitment and consistency
  2. Reciprocation
  3. Social proof
  4. Authority
  5. Liking and
  6. Scarcity

I definitely recommend that if you have the opportunity to read this book, there’s a lot more information and I find that even reading it more than once is helpful because there is a lot of powerful information in this book and it is going to take reading through it a couple times for it to really sink in and for you to truly get the message that this book is trying to convey.

So in terms of commitment and consistency.


People have a tendency to keep doing exactly the same thing that they’ve been doing. Photo credit:

People have a tendency to keep doing exactly the same thing that they’ve been doing for the better part of their life.

There is definitely a tendency for people to do the same things that they’ve done in the past and continue with that behavior. In Robert’s book, he talks about how if someone believes that their behavior has changed, that they will adopt other behaviors that they believe are consistent with that behavior.

As an example, people were encouraged to make a small change in their life to demonstrate that they were making a step towards being environmentally friendly. These people were being monitored to see what other behaviors they were doing and they turned out to make far greater changes in their life because they started making these small changes. Robert’s theory is that they wanted to be consistent with people who were doing things that were acceptable for the environment and that they wanted to be consistent. Once they’ve made that level of commitment, they have a tendency that they want to follow it through.

So in terms of how you can use that to help someone adopt proper behavior, one of the things that you want to do is you want them to do a small change. A small change that would demonstrate that they are being consistent with someone who is being safer. Therefore if they have made that commitment to being safer, there is a tendency that they are going to be more likely to be safer in the future because they want to be consistent with that new behavior that they have adopted.

In the book, Robert uses an example of someone who is trying to make some copies. So they tried out several scenarios and they used the example of someone going up to the copier and trying to make copies. So they use the phrase “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” The number of times that someone let the other person go ahead of them was 60%. In the second case, they wanted to test to see if there was some sense of urgency that the person would react to and allow the other person to move ahead of them in the line. So the second phrase was “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I am in a rush?” This got a success level of 94%. So the other person presented the scenario that they wanted to use the copier but they didn’t present a reason and in the second case, they presented a reason and it was consistent with the other person that the other person had a reason therefore they should let them go ahead. So the success rate went from 60% to 94% but I think this is one of the things that was extremely powerful but at the same time a little scary. The third example was “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” In this case, the person didn’t necessarily introduce any new information. At the beginning they suggested that they want to make a copy of five pages and they used the word ‘because’ but they didn’t introduce any new information. They didn’t introduce a sense of urgency and in this case they had a success rate of 93%. There is no sense of urgency, the person wasn’t requiring to use this in a situation that would normally dictate moving ahead of someone else. They just had to make copies. Everybody else standing in the line had to make copies too and there was only a 1% difference between the person that provided the justification that they were in a rush versus the person that provided no additional information and in Robert’s book, the researchers indicate that they believe that this was done because someone had added in the word ‘because’. When you’re using ‘because’, it’s normal that you are providing some level of justification. So when someone comes up to you and makes a request and uses the word ‘because’, it stands to reason that they have some kind of justification for making that request. In our mind, we’re not necessarily evaluating the information that comes after ‘because’. As long as it sounds consistent with the initial request, someone is likely to meet that request up to a percentage of 93% in this experiment versus 60% from the original case.

So I think that’s a dramatic increase. If you’re helping someone to learn how to change their behavior, one of a key things that you want to do is you want to watch how you are presenting the information. “I want you to wear this eyewear because it is going to keep you safe.” ‘Because’ is going to be a critical word that you can use in your presentation to greatly increase the success rate that you’re going to get the other person to use that protective equipment – much greater than if you just told them that they were supposed to use the eye protection. Just adding in the word ‘because’ can potentially take that individual from a 60% success rate to a 93%’s success rate which I think is a huge jump based on using one word.


When you want to change someone’s behavior, watch how you are presenting the information. Photo credit:

So there’s lots of different scenarios where you can think of when you need to provide some level of justification. If you can provide a level of justification for your initial request, your success rate is going to be much higher. The justification of that request doesn’t need to be that significant. You just need to frame it in a proper way to help someone understand that you are making a request with a justification.

Try to use the word ‘because’ as much as possible when you are presenting the information and helping someone change their behavior.