Robert Cialdini Applies Influence to Politics
Dr. Robert Cialdini has spent his entire career researching the science of influence earning him an international reputation as an expert in the fields of persuasion, compliance, and negotiation. His books including, Influence: Science & Practice, are the result of decades of peer-reviewed research on why people comply with requests.Influence has sold over 3 million copies, is a New York Times Bestseller and has been published in over 30 languages.
Because of the world-wide recognition of Dr. Cialdini’s cutting edge scientific research and his ethical business and policy applications, he is frequently regarded as the “Godfather of influence.” Dr. Cialdini received his Ph.D from the University of North Carolina and postdoctoral training from Columbia University. He has held Visiting Scholar Appointments at Ohio State University, the University of California, the Annenberg School of Communications, and the Graduate School of Business of Stanford University. Currently, Dr Cialdini is Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University. Dr. Cialdini is CEO and President of INFLUENCE AT WORK; focusing on ethical influence training, corporate keynote programs, and the CMCT (Cialdini Method Certified Trainer) program. Dr. Cialdini’s clients include such organizations as Google, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Bayer, Coca Cola, KPMG, AstraZeneca, Ericsson, Kodak, Merrill Lynch, Nationwide Insurance, Pfizer, AAA, Northern Trust, IBM, Prudential, The Mayo Clinic, GlaxoSmithKline, Harvard University – Kennedy School, The Weather Channel, the United States Department of Justice, and NATO.
Question: Do you see these principles of influence at work in politics?
Cialdini: I do. Let’s take the two conventions that we’ve just experienced, the Democratic and Republican Convention. Both were trying to send a message and, I think, a subtle message, not specifically enunciated but subtext below the surface message, each trying to activate a particular principle of influence that we all respond to. For the Democrats, it was the principle of consensus, the fact that the final night speech was held in a stadium of 80,000 people, the message was, “Look at all of the people who are on board with us. It must be the right thing to do.” That message, very clear. If everybody’s doing something, it’s a shortcut indication of what’s the valid thing to do. Right? For the Republicans, the message of John McCain, all of the people who were building up to his speech and all of the first half of his speech was, “Look what this man has already given to us. Look at the service that he has provided. Look at the pain that he has experienced as a patriot, as a captive, all those years. He’s entitled to our support for what he’s done already.” There’s a rule, the rule for reciprocation in all of human cultures that say, “We have to give back to those who have given to us. We have to give back to those who have given to us. [Otherwise], we’re not good people if we fail to do that.” So the subtext message of the Republican Convention, I think, is, “Look at what our man has done for you. You’re obligated to pay attention to his message, at least to do that much for him, if not to support him for what he’s done.” The Democratic message was, “Look at all the people who are supporting us. It must be the right thing for you too.”
Question: Do the same principles of influence apply across cultures?
Cialdini: There’s good news about the extent to which these principles apply in all cultures and there’s bad news too, for those of us who want to use them effectively. The good news is, all 6 of these principles, the fundamental principles of influence, apply in all human cultures. The bad news is the priorities associated with them are different in cultures. There was a great study done at Stanford University in connection with Citibank that has offices all over the world. These researchers went to Citibank employees in four prototypical cultures, and they said to these employees, “If one of your colleagues came to you with a request for help on a project that require taking time, energy, even staffing away from your own project, under what circumstances would you feel most obligated to say yes?” And in the US, the answer came, “I would ask myself, has this requestor done anything for me lately? If so, I have to say yes.” That’s the rule for reciprocation. In the Far East, the answer was different. It was, “Is this requestor connected to my group, especially the senior person in my group?” This was deference to authority. Out of fealty to one’s boss, you have to say yes to this person if he or she is connected to your boss. In the Mediterranean cultures, Spain, the answer was, “Is this person connected to my friends?” It wasn’t fealty to your boss, it was loyalty to your friendship network that spur the obligation, “I have to say yes to this person.” And in Germany and the Scandinavian countries, the answer was different, “According to the official regulations and rules of this organization, am I supposed to say yes?” So this was commitment and consistency to a mission statement, to a set of organizing principles, and people want to be consistent with that. The key is to recognize… Look, it’s not that in Germany, they don’t care about friendship. Of course they do. It’s not that in New York they don’t care about authority. Of course they do. But the priorities, the weight associated with each of these principles, will shift from culture to culture.
Question: Has technology improved the means of influence?
Cialdini: You know, it’s doing both. It’s expediting the way by segmenting the market more, you know, in a more detailed way, but it’s also causing us to lose some humanity. There was a great study that was done. MBA students at Northwestern University and Stanford University engaged in bargaining a negotiation over Internet, e-mail, the most bloodless of all communication mechanism, and they were surprised to see that when they engaged in this negotiation by e-mail, in 30% of the instances, there was no successful resolution. The negotiation was stymied. Everybody lost. They did a follow up where instead of just having them negotiate by e-mail first they had them send some information back and forth about one another’s personal hobbies and where they went to school as undergraduates, where they grew up, if they’ve been married, do they have any kids, these kinds of things. In other words, they personalized the exchange before they got to business, the way we do in a face to face interaction. And now, the same negotiation properties, the same simulation that they were working on, they only got 6% stymied negotiation. So you drop from 30 to 6% by simply bringing the flesh and blood back into the exchange that the e-mail process took out. So we can, we can use technology for very good purposes. Sometimes it undercuts us, but we can restore the value of the human exchange by bringing that back into the technology we use.
Robert Cialdini discusses influence in politics and across cultures, and how technology has changed the field.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
to stop attempted speeches — raise issues of just how committed college students are to
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Most college students do not condone more aggressive actions to squelch speech, like
violence and shouting down speakers, although there are some who do. However, students
do support many policies or actions that place limits on speech, including free speech zones,
speech codes and campus prohibitions on hate speech, suggesting that their commitment
to free speech has limits. As one example, barely a majority think handing out literature on
controversial issues is "always acceptable."
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.
- A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
- This may have drastic implications for how addiction is caused and how people recall intoxication.
- The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
- The commercial was written by IBM's Watson. It was acted and directed by humans.
- Lexus says humans played a minimal part in influencing Watson, in terms of the writing.
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