Cialdini’s Six Principles of Persuasion

Robert Cialdini: Principles of Persuasion
Robert Cialdini – Proponent of the Six Principles of Persuasion. Source

Robert Cialdini, a Social Psychologist, is very well known for his significant contributions to the world of compliance, negotiation, and persuasion. His book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, published in 1984 is widely recognized. This book is based on the human tendency of saying “Yes” i.e. the Psychology of Persuasion. 

Cialdini proposed Six Principles of Persuasion which can affect your convincing power to get people to agree to your request. In this article, we discuss these persuasion principles in detail to understand Cialdini’s influence in the subject matter of ‘Persuasion’.

Cialdini's Six Principles of Persuasion
Six Principles of Persuasion. Source

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It’s an ancient adage that you should “treat others the way you want to be treated yourself”. This sums up Cialdini’s principle of Reciprocity. Individuals are more likely to exchange what they get from others. For example, if someone does you a favor, your most likely response would be “I owe you one.” Even Adams observed this principle in his Equity Theory of Motivation

So, when you want to persuade others to do something you want from them, you can give them something in the first place. An example is supermarkets offering discounts to make the shoppers buy products from their store.


When there is a limited supply of a commodity, your need for it grows. Cialdini’s Persuasion of Scarcity is based on the fact that “scarcity creates value”. Whether it be goods or services, the less is its availability, the more will you be tempted to acquire it.

For a better perspective, consider how many prominent firms release limited-edition items to catch their customers’ attention. Thus, persuasion can become quite effortless if accessibility is scanty or at least it is so in the view of the consumer. 


The third principle of persuasion proposed by Cialdini is Authority. This concept emphasizes the idea that individuals are more likely to follow an expert or authoritative figure’s opinions and suggestions. When physiotherapists show their qualifications on the walls of their offices, according to authority persuasion, they are better able to convince their customers to exercise.

People are more likely to invest in a particular commodity if they perceive that someone else is taking responsibility for it. For example, if the CEO of a firm seems credible and trustworthy and is praised by others, this can positively impact the image of his company.


Next in the list of Cialdini’s Persuasion techniques is Commitment and Consistency. People like to stick to their core beliefs. You can easily get impressed when you see someone sticking to their words.

This implies that if I can persuade you to act a little towards my desired behavior, you’ll be tempted to relate yourself to that particular behavior and be more inclined to act in that way again in the future. Moreover, if I recommend it again, you’ll increase your activities in that direction. This is the power of persuasion!


According to Cialdini, individuals are far more likely to be influenced by people they like than by people they don’t. People who compliment others and work with them are proven to be more likable than those who do not. People are also far more inclined to prefer people who are similar to them than those who are not, despite favorable data regarding certain benefits of variety.

Liking: A Principle of Persuasion
Liking and Disliking play a vital role

Applying this principle of Persuasion can be a challenge for some but it can prove to be very effective. For example, if you walk into a store and are greeted with the nicest smile, you will instantly like that person and favor the odds of purchasing a product she/he recommends.


It implies that when people are unsure of how to behave in a certain scenario, they will frequently observe and copy the activities of others. This idea is connected to the widely held view that there is safety in numbers.

If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’re well aware of this idea since you’re always warning them about “peer pressure” when it comes to making decisions. During their teen years, children seek other teenagers for advice on how to talk, dress, and act. Persuasion is a difficult principle to apply, but with the right management, it is possible.

Final Thoughts on the Principles of Persuasion

Even though this study has been questioned by some, Cialdini’s work on the Psychology of Persuasion has gained significant acclaim for its clarity and relevance. These principles have been adopted on various fronts.

In Cialdini’s words, “Persuasion is what you say immediately before you deliver your message that leverages your success tremendously.” Thus, when used properly, these Principles of Persuasion can prove to be highly fruitful.

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