1. Remember that Numbers Count

The mere mention of a high figure predisposes people to think in terms of large numbers. Experiments have shown that people are willing to pay more for a meal at a restaurant named Studio 97 than one called Studio 17, and that the price individuals are prepared to pay for a box of Belgian chocolates increases after they’ve been asked to write down a pair of high (rather than low) digits.

2. Recognise the Pre-suasive Power of Words

You will tend to engage quite strongly with a sentence like this because it is directly addressed to you. People, however, respond less positively when a message does not appear to be ‘self-relevant’. And the tone of the vocabulary you employ has extraordinary psychological power. In one experiment, volunteers asked to unscramble aggressive sentences like ‘hit he them’ proved far more prepared in a subsequent test to deliver quite intense electric shocks to fellow subjects than those who had been asked to rearrange sentences like ‘door the fix’.

3. Understand Channelled Attention

Make a particular notion prominent in people’s minds and it will have a controlling influence on what they do next. In one study various individuals were approached and asked to give their email addresses to get a free sample of a new soft drink. Only a third agreed to do so. But when people were first asked whether they considered themselves ‘adventurous’, three-quarters were then happy to pass on their email addresses to get the free sample. Similarly, researchers armed with clipboards found that they could get only 29% of passing shoppers to help with a survey, but if they opened with the pre-suasive question ‘Do you consider yourself a helpful person?’, 77.3% went on to volunteer.

4. Discover the Potency of the Unfini–

Studies have demonstrated that people watching television best recall commercials that are stopped five to six seconds before their natural endings. In a similar way, female students asked to rate male students in terms of their attractiveness tended to give higher marks in those cases where they didn’t know how the male student had rated them than in those where they did (however positive that rating might have been). Not having complete information made the women focus more on the men who hadn’t rated them and therefore made those men appear more attractive.

5. Be Honest

Pre-Suasion reveals the myriad ways in which people can be won over to a point of view, an idea or a cause. But it also carries a warning. If you try to influence people deceitfully or unethically, your efforts may well rebound on you. Studies have shown, for example, that companies that encourage sharp practice on the part of their employees tend to suffer from high absenteeism, poor performance and even fraud. And in a world ever more open to public scrutiny, double-dealing rarely goes unpunished.

  • Pre-Suasion

  • When it comes to persuasion, success can begin before you say a word.

    An instant classic. Forbes
    Utterly fascinating. Adam Grant, author of Originals and Give and Take
    Shockingly insightful. Chip Heath, co-author of Switch and Made to Stick

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

    In his global bestseller Influence, Professor Robert Cialdini transformed the way we think about the craft of persuasion. Now he offers revelatory new insights into the art of winning people over: it isn’t just what we say or how we say it that counts, but also what goes on in the moments before we speak.

    This is the world of ‘pre-suasion’, where subtle turns of phrase, seemingly insignificant visual cues, and apparently unimportant details of location can prime people to say ‘yes’ even before they are asked. And as Cialdini reveals, it’s a world you can master. If you understand the tools of pre-suasion, you will better placed to win a debate, get support for an idea or cause, promote a campaign – even persuade yourself to do something you find difficult.

    Drawing on the latest research, and packed with fascinating case studies, Pre-Suasion is a masterclass in enhancing your powers of influence.


    ‘Mind-blowing.’ Management Today
    ‘Accessible and intellectually rigorous.’ Books of the Year, The Times
    ‘Fascinating, fluent and original.’ Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist Strikes Back

  • Buy the book

Related articles