Robert Cialdini’s Covert Research Methods
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: Were you ever “uncovered” while conducting research?
Cialdini: I was uncovered twice. I was discovered twice. The first time was… I was taking training in an organization that was selling very highly overpriced fire detection, fire alarm systems in homes, and they would train us… I mean, they were despicable. We would… They would equip us with pictures of burned children to show to parents and we would sit them on the sofa and say, “Mary, is John and little Jimmy’s life worth $1,200 to you? John, how about you? Do you think little Jimmy and Mary are worth $1,200? Look what happens if you don’t have proper protection, and so…” Well, I was in this program for a few days and I had been using an alias. I was always incognito, disguised in identity, disguised intent, and they caught something in the way I had signed in that was different from the name that I subsequently gave to myself weeks later when I actually got into the program. I had forgotten which name I had used. And they… The sales manager and two of his assistants brought me into a side office. I thought they were going to break my face because they thought I was an investigative journalist and I was going to blow open the story for them. In fact, I told them, “No. I’m a university professor. I’m doing research.” They said, “Oh! Oh. Well you’re… You don’t have any power. There’s no potency in what you do. Okay, then it’s all right, you know, if you’re a university professor. You don’t really get to influence anybody except a few undergraduates.” But if you’re a journalist, now you could blow open their whole scheme. So they laughed. They chuckled and they said, “Okay, go on. Get out of here.”
Robert Cialdini talks about going undercover and his books "Influence" and "Yes".
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