Saturday, November 1, 2008

Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Persuasive-- Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, and Robert B. Cialdini-- Review

Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Persuasive-- Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, and Robert B. Cialdini-- Review

This short book is a collection of 50 techniques to be persuasive. Each technique is covered in about four pages of text and backed by citations from social psychology and consumer behavior studies in the back of book. In addition there is an appendix with testimonials from companies and people who have used the techniques effectively. Many of the suggested techniques appear counterintuitive.

My reason for reading this book is not to become more persuasive but to protect myself from consumerism. Understanding persuasion techniques and manipulative consumer advertising techniques ensures that you will buy less junk that you don't need and be able to make more informed purchases. It also increases the likelihood that you will not go into debt.

Some of the short entries were quite entertaining. One of my favorites was that you are more likely to be in a particular profession if your name sounds like the profession. If you are named Dennis you are more likely to become a dentist. I thought this was fairly ridiculous. Also you are more likely to move to a city or state that sounds like your name. If your name is Florence you might move to Florida.

There are many persuasion techniques described, groupthink, smiling, variety of products, giving small favors, labeling, and creating committments are just a few of them. Not all of them are intuitive. There is the example of offering jam as a sample in a supermarket. If you offer only a few varieties of jam, three or four, people are more likely to taste the jam than if you offer ten or twenty varieties.

Most of the persuasion techniques are fairly pedestrian and predictable. Offering mints as part of your bill instead of in a basket at the cash register increases tips, if you smile and are genuine you are likely to be rated as doing a better job of customer service, and if you start a bid low on ebay you are more likely to get more bids and a higher price on ebay.

The writing is rather flat and predictable. I would not call the editing job in this book to be wonderful. However, the writing is very clear and understandable. The book is not writing to entertain, it is writing to inform people about how to be more influential. It does a good job of being informative.

It also appears to be accurate and properly cited with reputable academic journal citations from periodicals with sound backgrounds; Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Journal of Marketing Research, and similar academic and professional publications. There is also an index at the back of the book.

Well worth reading if you want to be persuasive or protect yourself from being persuaded.

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