About Cam

gribbly.org* is the online home of Cameron Brown. Creative director, designer, musician, mediocre programmer, caffeine addict. Seattle

This is where I accumulate interesting links... If you're looking for coherence or context, you're in the wrong place!



Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini Ph.D

I give this book 5/5. It was both fascinating and convincing.

A key theme is that we use "shortcuts" to make decisions (like a
turkey listening for the "cheep" of her young), and they can be
exploited. The book concludes with the insight that we have made
ourselves into turkeys by increasing the complexity of our
environment. We rely on shortcuts, and those that exploit them are
betraying us.

The types of influence:

Reciprocation - creating a sense of obligation (Hare Krishnas at the
airport give you a flower as a "gift")

Commitment and Consistency - if we make a commitment, it constrains
our future actions to be consistent with it. (The "beach blanket"
example. 4/20 tried to stop an obvious thief stealing a stranger's
stuff. If the stranger said "watch my stuff" it rose to 19/20)
(Opening phone solicitation with "How are you feeling today?" yielded
35% compliance vs. 5% because people felt guilty admitting they were
fine, then not helping the needy) (The power to shape sense of self,
like US POWs in the Korean war)

Social Proof - if others are doing it, we will likely do it too.
(Canned laughter. No-one likes it, but it still works) (Advice for
soliciting help in a crowd - stare, speak and point to one person and
no-one else)

Liking - we comply with requests from those we like. (The power of
physical attractiveness. We are "phenomenal suckers for flattery" -
even if obviously motivated and untrue!) (Good cop/bad cop)

Authority - we are trained from birth to comply with authority figures
(parents), which is adaptive but can be exploited. (Milgram "memory"
experiments in which 2/3rds pulled all thirty "shock switches". They
hated doing it, but did it anyway because the guy in the labcoat told
them to. Psychologists predicted that 1-2% would do so) (95% of nurses
complied with an anonymous phone call from a fake doctor to administer
a dangerous overdose of an unauthorized medication). ("Give him a
dime!" - almost 100% compliance if coming from someone in a security
guard uniform, <50% if not)

Scarcity - we value things we perceive as scarce, especially things
that suddenly become scarce due to demand. (Cookie experiment - more
desirable if two in jar vs. 10, even more so if was 10 then reduced to
two due to "demand" as opposed to error) (The ironic effect of
censorship - the censored material is more highly desired and valued)
(Scheduling used car buyers to arrive at the same time)