Books in 5 Quotes: Robert B. Cialdini

Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.

Cialdini's book explains with alarming insight all of our human foibles and how they are so easily exploited. Given the new year and the focus on change, I thought I would highlight his quotes on commitment and consistency, in particular, and how the value humans assign to them can be leveraged for behavior change.

1. “It is, quite simply, our nearly obsessive desire to be (and to appear) consistent with what we have already done. Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressure to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.”

2. “Whenever one takes a stand that is visible to others, there arises a drive to maintain that stand in order to look like a consistent person. For appearances’ sake, then, the more public a stand, the more reluctant we will be to change it.”

3. “The more effort that goes into a commitment, the greater is its ability to influence the attitudes of the person who made it.”

4. “It appears that commitments are most effective in changing a person’s self-image and future behavior when they are active, public, and effortful.”

5. “Social scientists have determined that we accept inner responsibility for a behavior when we think we have chosen to perform it in the absence of strong outside pressures. A large reward is one such external pressure. It may get us to perform a certain action, but it won’t get us to accept inner responsibility for the act. Consequently, we won’t feel committed to it. The same is true of a strong threat; it may motivate immediate compliance, but it is unlikely to produce long-term commitment.”

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.