Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini [Book Summary – Review]

Do you have such moments where you feel lost against the publicities? Do you find yourself buying junk food, fancy t-shirts, or books again and again, even though you try to limit consumption? If so, it’s not all your fault. This is a common marketing strategy that marketers create links between their products and a preferable feeling like happiness. So, you become tended to buy those when you feel sad.

This strategy which is used by marketers to create an impact on your feelings is called pre-suasion. This is not for only the marketers; anyone can apply it. Let’s see how we can get benefit by using the same tactic and how possible to notice what’s going on inside you.

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Chapter 1 – Since they benefit from the inclinations of human beings, some questions provoke preferable reactions and manipulate decisions.

When someone you don’t know wants to know whether you feel happy or not, be careful because it could be a question that has some other purposes. For example, trendy employers are known for asking this type of question.

Having a role in a plan which is called a positive test, these kinds of questions are raised to get benefit from human’s inclination to concentrate on the current situation instead of considering the missing parts.

To put it differently: we search for success, not failures. So, when someone asks about how we’re doing, It’ll provoke us to seek out the existence of sadness, rather than the absence of it.

Together with those trendy employers, many other professionals try to take advantage of this human condition- such as telemarketers, investigators, and salesmen. Mostly seeming honest, innocent questions, they are also called one-way questions, which have the power to influence our decisions on the topics related to their aims.

Research made in 1993  explicitly demonstrates this rule. In this study, two separate groups consisted of usual Canadian university students were asked to answer different but alike questions. “Do you feel unhappy about your social lives?” was the question that the researchers asked the first group, while “Do you feel happy about your social lives?” was the question of the other group.

Notably, the results have shown that the students in the first group were 375% more tended to express their discontentment than the students in the other group. 

Usually, the reason for asking these kinds of questions is manipulating how the people receive their current situations before demanding them to make a decision. That’s why those questions are known as “pre-suasive.”

So, such questions are effective means for marketing, as they have the power to cleverly manipulate the customers’ decisions on whether they’ll buy or not.

San Bolkan and Peter Andersen, two communication specialists, made an experiment with the assistance of some marketers. Accordingly, the marketers would try to make the test-takers taste new drinks and learn their email addresses.

Firstly, the researchers asked some samplers whether they consider themselves as courageous people who are willing to try brand new products- and 75.7% of these people tried new drinks and got convinced to give their e-mails. Whereas the other people who weren’t asked such a pre-suasive question were less tended to deal with the marketers, only 33% of them sampled the new products and got convinced to give their contact information.

Chapter 2 – If something can grasp our attention, it seems significant to us. So, watch over the purposely alluring things.

Another question you might encounter is that “Do you have to seriously worry about  the menace coming from the right-wing fanatism?”

Now, to answer this question, your brain will skim all the records which were recently provided by the media, and all show the violence and risks. So, even though those images are irrelevant, they will produce an influence on our answer.

Because only the things that can grasp our attention seem important to us. Besides, this inclination means that your decisions can change according to the happenings around you at the moment.

For example, researchers ask the same question to people three separate times: “ What have been the most significant incident in the last 70 years?”

When people were asked just fourteen days before the centenary of 9/11, people named that event solely 30 % of the time. This percentage rose to 65% when they were asked two-three days before the anniversary, and it again came back to 30% two weeks after the anniversary.

The major factor that caused this difference is the great appearance of the event on media a few days before the anniversary.

So, be well prepared for this. It would be wise if you asked yourself the reason for your attention on a subject.

For example, let’s say a stranger approach you and talk about the countless dangers on the planet before want you to decide on something important, then he must be desiring to talk about something else.

Undeniably, catching your attention on an irrelevant subject is a common strategy of a good pre-suader. Sometimes, they don’t mention a danger, then it could be anything else that would transform their services more alluring and effective in the eyes of the customers. For instance, an alarm seller would introduce the product by mentioning the crime statistics.

So, if you notice a radical group or any sensational event get considerable attention from the media, don’t forget that it’ll lose its allure in the following month.  Because as time passes, it won’t seem as important as before.

Chapter 3 – We’re tended to overemphasize the effects of the obvious things, on the other hand, we underrate the possible power of less obvious things.

What are the motives of people’s current actions? This question has particular importance for the ones who desire to instruct you in a way. And, all the good pre-suader could agree that the true triggers of our actions do not usually show up as clearly as we guess. 

Mainstream economical theories claim that the main motive of human behavior lies behind financial desires.

Felix Oberholzer-Gee, an economist, made an experiment to test this theory. Accordingly, he tried to convince people to permit him to jump the queue by offering them money. Sure thing, as he rose the amount of the money that he offered, he could convince more people to let him.

But do humans’ minds work as simply as such? Probably, there should be some obscure reasons that we need to take into account when searching for the actions and motivations.

Money is one of the most obvious factors, however, that doesn’t mean that it is the most significant reason. Similarly, there is no direct parallel between being visible and the importance of the influence. Sometimes, invisible things can influence us and not less than other visible things.

Keep in mind that in the previous experiment, money wasn’t exchanged physically, so it means that not only the money but also a kind of social responsibility influenced our decision-making processes.

For example, in the scenario in which Oberholzer-Gee offered more money to get permission to jump into the queue, then people would probably think that he had an urgent and felt responsible to him.

However, they can easily dominate our feelings towards ethical and social values by using money,  given that money is more tangible than moral senses.

Anyone could exploit that human inclination to prefer the visible things rather than the invisible ones.

On purpose or not, CEOs often use this tendency. They represent the obvious aspect of the corporation, and so, all the successes of the company are attributed to them – in the meantime, the invisible heroes continue to work for future achievements. CEOs easily received many promotions and praises while the others, the less visible workers, have to endeavor more to get their deserved recognition.

Chapter 4 – Word preferences have a considerable impact on our judges, and many people take advantage of this fact.

So, you should be careful about the power of prudently picked words, and things mentioned so far are only one single aspect of the issue. The words can dominate you to behave in a certain way.

A competent pre-suader is well-concentrated on every single word she picks and possible connotations of them. She prudently selects the words that her correspondent can find a connection with himself.

Most people think that language is just a means of transmitting ideas, however, this is one single function of the language.  It also functions as a means of influencing other people.

A new study conducted by Gün Semin, a psycholinguist, indicates that the main purpose of talking is to grasp the attention of the audience to direct them to the one precise subject. 

Once achieving this, these new aspects are linked to what the listener already associates with this piece of reality, and the amalgam of these connections and new knowledge determines the audience’s ultimate response.

Thus, if you want to create an influence over your audience, you have to prudently pick the words that you’ll use and be aware of the meaningful associations that your listeners could find.

Let’s think of destructive words as an example. As a part of the research, some researchers wanted two different groups to make sentences by assembling some scrambled words. While the first group had vicious words like “kills”, another group was given no aggressive word.

After finishing this activity, researchers conducted one more test with the same subjects to guess the intensity level for 20 electric shocks an invisible person would be exposed. Annoyingly, those subjects that were given the violent words agreed to 48% higher levels than the decision of other subjects in the other group.

To conclude, the more people are exposed to certain words, the more they’re dominated when giving a decision.

The following chapter will examine how our inside and outside conditions can be exploited for the sake of influence.

Chapter 5 – Both our inside or outside conditions have importance when pre-suasion is concerned. 

The environment around us, external geography in other saying, can stimulate connections for us. It also means that we can use this fact to pre-suade ourselves or our workers.

A consultancy company develops an encouragement program that prizes the employees who reach a determined goal. Finally, they realized that the staff works more effectively if their workplaces always remind them business. So, a place where the employees can see a transparent meeting room in front of them.

Since these kinds of details induce a continuous involvement, the employees can remain focused on their current business. Briefly, an enjoyable and open working atmosphere is a stimulating factor for good and effective work.

However, together with our outside conditions, there are also inside conditions that might be effective in our works.

These conditions consist of our manners, hopes, judgment, and memories- each of them has positive and negative aspects. So, because we can pay all the attention of ours to a certain memory, as well as, we can dominate other people’s attention to a certain memory or distract them from some.

Numerous research conducted on happiness has indicated that we enjoy our lives more when we concentrate on what we currently have rather than longing for what we don’t possess.

This can also be applied to the stereotypes we have, which we can use against each other, for example, think of the common belief that girls are not good enough at math as boys. Hence,  a lot of female students have been exposed to such prejudice and couldn’t remain confident in exams, particularly when they were taking exams near boys.

But when you reorganize the class sitting order according to the gender by separating girls and boys, soon you’ll see that the scores of the girls will remarkably rise.

You have many methods to dominate the environment surrounding you and the opinions of someone else to obtain your preferred results. However, you should act before you raise the most important question.

So, remember that your listeners are responsive as long as they are in a correct place and proper surroundings,   therefore you can lead their attention to whatever you want and make them see whatever you want them to see.

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini Book Summary – Review

Pre-suasion is an ability that allows you to instruct someone else what to do by giving particular directions or saying certain sentences, just as that person was about to make his mind about the topic that you’re interested in. This is called pre-suasion: designing the surroundings and collecting the pieces, therefore convincing people to do whatever you desire.

A piece of advice:

Let the consumers instruct not only give their opinions.

Many firms try to establish a connection between themselves and their customers by hearing their opinions. However, that is only a meditative action, a kind that finally makes them pay attention solely to their needs. Instead, take advice from them, by doing so, you stimulate them to feel empathy with you and feel more associated with the company. In the end, this will provide them with relating to the product, and this is a kind of pre-suasion that will make them buy more.

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Savaş Ateş

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