Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Review of Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Book Club Event = Book List (01/06/2023)
Intriguing Connections = 1) War for Your Attention, 2) How To Have A Conversation?

Watch Short Review


“The best persuaders become the best through pre-suasion – the process of arranging for recipients to be receptive to a message before they encounter it.  To persuade optimally, then, it’s necessary to pre-suade optimally.” – Robert Cialdini, Chapter 1: Pre-Suasion: An Introduction, Page 4

“Just because we can use psychological tactics to gain consent doesn’t mean we are entitled to them.  The tactics are available for good or ill.  They can be structured to fool and thereby exploit others.  But they can also be structured to inform and thereby enhance others.” – Robert Cialdini, Chapter 1: Pre-Suasion: An Introduction, Page 11

“Any practice that pulls attention to an idea will be successful only when the idea has merit.  If the arguments and evidence supporting it are seen as meritless by an audience, directed attention to the bad idea won’t make it any more persuasive.  If anything, the tactic might well backfire.” – Robert Cialdini, Chapter 3: The Importance of Attention… Is Importance, Page 41


Is This An Overview?

Pre-suasion is what effective communicators do before sharing their ideas.  They are influencing acts, that are done before the engagement, before the negotiation.  Pre-suasion is about the timing of an information release.  Pre-suasive acts that change the psychological frame of the ideas being made, which influence the outcome.  Making the audience receptive to the ideas, even before the ideas themselves are shared.  Pre-suasion can change and shape other people’s decisions, therefor they do need to have ethical considerations.  Pre-suasion tactics can be used for or against people.  They can be exploitive or beneficial.  There are many social and financial costs associated with using pre-suasive tactics in unethical ways.

Pre-suasion focuses on capturing attention, and making associations.  Influencers capture attention and then direct them to the wanted features of the supported ideas.  Making the audience think about certain claims, and not others.  But, capturing attention is effective only if the ideas have merit.  If the ideas do not have merit, then the captured attention can be used against the ideas.  Another pre-suasive method is making association.  Associating the ideas with audiences pre-accepted values, such as trust.  The value will give credence to the wanted ideas.  But, the associations only work within context, and can have opposing effects in different contexts. 



Many of the applications appear superficial.  Even though they appear superficial, the do increase the chances of influence.  Their effectiveness depends on how they are used, and in what context.  There are factors listed that alter the efficacy of influence, but many are also left out.  The author acknowledges that the tactics increase the chances of influencing behavior, not certain to influence behavior. 

The author also acknowledges that much of the information presented in the book has become common.  The ideas used go by various names, but are effectively the same.  What this book stresses, is the timing of their use.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•What is pre-suasion? 
•Does ethics matter for pre-suasion? 
•How to capture attention?
•What associations should be made? 
•How does unity influence behavior? 
•What is the norm of social responsibility? 
•Do Pavlov’s dogs always salivate due to a bell?
•What is the Zeigarnik effect? 
•How to get false confessions? 

Book Details
Edition:                 First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Publisher:             Simon & Schuster
Edition ISBN:      9781501109799
Pages to read:       234
Publication:          2016
1st Edition:           2016
Format:                 Hardcover 

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          3
Overall          3