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Influence part three!

Some of you may have noticed my posting frequency has nose dived lately. Alas, I am actually working full time now, so I do not get the chance to write and edit my posts as often anymore. That aside, I still enjoy talking about this subject immensely.
Let us continue with the third and final post on influence!
6. Authority – Four out of five doctors agree, product X is the best for you!

Authority is a funny little thing. It’s basically social proofing multiplied times ten, then squared, then served with spicy salsa. The point is, it’s very useful (and powerful) when it’s true.
The reason I say it is similar to social proofing is very straight forward. With social proofing you are reducing dissonance by assuming the crowd knows better than you. With authority, you are assuming an EXPERT knows better than you. You should assume an expert knows more than you as long as you are not getting things from a biased source of information. Of course we should always think critically (and research) our decisions, but let’s face facts. If a historian gives me his recount of the Battle of Waterloo I should take his word over a wikipedia article about it. A real expert is a good thing, and as a species we can get much further when we allow each other to become experts (and thus defer to each others expertise when appropriate).
Authority, while it can be abused, is one of the few forms of influence that we should try to use more often in our daily lives, but Caildini says we tend to shy away from it. It does make us seem a bit pompous to walk around saying, “well you can take my word for it, I have a master’s in psychology,” after every time I talk about psychology. For the sake of changing someone’s opinion, however, you actually should be open about why you might be an expert.
For example, Billy is trying to tell me that all people from Canada are silly because they pronounce things different than he does.
1. Billy, don’t judge people based on the way they talk. They simply use the same phonemes their parents did and pronounce things differently based on their culture. Phonemes, of course, are the sounds a given species make. They probably think you sound weird too,
2. Billy, don’t judge people based on the way they talk. They simply use the same phonemes their parents did and pounces things different based on their culture. While I was obtaining my master’s in psychology, we discussed that phonemes are the sounds a given species makes. They probably think you sound weird too.
In number one, he has no reason to believe me. In number two, he has a reason to grant me more credibility based on my experience and expertise. The content of the message hasn’t changed, but adding authority to the equation makes you more likely to successfully influence another individual.
Scarcity gets thrown at us all the time. We know how it goes, and we normally know it when we see it. However, it can really impact our behavior when we are outside of our comfort zone. Here’s a real life example – Today I wanted to get a new usb cord that would fit my phone. Not a complete charger, just the wire so I can hook it up to my computer. I looked online for a bit and everyone is calling this product something different. Some call it a mini-usb, some say mini-usb turbo, then people start talking about the rate at which it charges and so on. Well I just looked at a few online shops and I came across one website that said, “only 3.99 if you purchase within the next 2 hours.” Hmmm well. Well that could be what I need. If I try to research it more, I could run out of time. What should I do?!?!
Suddenly I’m caught in the trap of dissonance. The fastest way to reduce the dissonance is to actually go ahead and purchase the item. The best way to reduce the dissonance, however, is to fully research the product. If it turns out that this is a good deal AND also something I need, then it’s a total win. However, they’ve made it scarce! So now I am unable to spend the time I need to make a good decision.
Well, I didn’t buy it because I don’t want to waste money on something that won’t work.
Scarcity also gets thrown at you at almost every single gym in America. I switched gyms recently because I wanted a place closer to work. I didn’t care what deal they had, this was simply the easiest place for me to go every day. So when they told me their “short time offers,” I really did not care. Hey, if it’s cheaper, that’s fine. It was not going to impact my behavior since I was already committed to going to this particular place.
So I arrive at this gym and I see fliers taped to the doors
So I show up the next day to play some racquetball. What do you know, the same flier is still up. I show up a few more times that week, and lo and behold, there the fliers stand. When someone walks through those doors, you want to make the process of purchasing a gym membership as stress free as possible. But… you want to make the process of rejecting it very stressful. So a salesman will create a situation that will cause you dissonance if you fail to go with their deal. In this case, no enrollment fee “TODAY ONLY” so you save 30 dollars if you start now!
Well folks, there you have it. All seven methods of influence! I would normally create a follow up post summarizing and utilizing all seven methods into a few examples, but I already did that with the parody piece from last post.
It may be a week or more before the next post folks, but I will always want to keep writing more and more.
Emergent epigenisis will be our next topic!!

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