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'Science of Persuasion' goes viral on YouTube

Science of Persuasion video
April 03, 2013

Do you know how to influence people and possibly make some new friends in the process?

It’s easy to learn through a user-friendly Secrets from the Science of Persuasion video developed by ASU emeritus professor Robert Cialdini that boils down the basics of six principles of influence and has garnered more than 560,000 YouTube views.

“The video is viewed several thousand times every day," said Cialdini, who has a joint appointment in psychology and marketing at ASU. "These are new and unique downloads of 3,000 to 5,000 per day.” Cialdini’s book, “Influence, Science and Practice,” has sold more than 2 million copies.

The video distills the science of persuasion into easy-to-understand concepts that can be universally applied. Feedback on the piece has been largely positive with viewers citing the video’s availability of material that is grounded in science and presentation in an ethical and condensed manner.

“People have some sort of thumbnail description of how to comport themselves in various situations that they may encounter to become more persuasive and influential,” he said. ”The principles are not designed to manipulate people into assent. They are designed to inform.”

Cialdini and his business partner, Steve Martin, serve as co-narrators on the video while Adam Edward provides entertaining illustrations along the way. They weren’t surprised that people are interested in the information that the video provides, but they were surprised at how rapidly the video has grown in popularity.

“We are all involved in the persuasion process hundreds of times a day from moving people in our direction or moving in their direction,” Cialdini said.

A sampling of a few of the tools that can be utilized to persuade others includes the concept of reciprocity or the obligation to give when you receive. This principle was illustrated with studies that showed that servers who gave their customers a mint with their bill received tips that were about 3 percent higher. Adding two mints per person boosted tips to a 14 percent increase.

Another is scarcity, or the concept that people want more of those things that they can have less of, such as when flights of the Concord became less available and sales then took off.

“These principles give information that allows people to make choices on the basis of genuine evidence,” Cialdini said.