INFLUENCE: The Psychology Of Persuasion Book Review

When I read the top 10 lists of books that copywriters suggest reading to get started…the book INFLUENCE, The Psychology of Persuasion always seems to be at the top of that list.

With me, I was kind of iffy about that.

I have to admit, overall the book was amazing. However, I often felt like I “had” to read it – not that I wanted to.

To me, a good book is something that you don’t want to stop reading. When you’re up late at night reading a good book, you literally shouldn’t want to go to bed. That’s how I’ve been with many great books (usually copywriting books because they motivate me) – but I simply wasn’t with this.

And here’s the reason…

The book is over 300 pages long, but it can literally be summed up in about 20 pages. To me, that’s just overkill. However, I still absolutely recommend reading the book simply because the ideas in it are so unbelievably valuable and priceless that you have to just drudge through it and read it.

The best part about it is the examples he gives. You absolutely must read each and every one because you never know which one is going to spark an idea for a project you’re working on!

Anyway, I’m going to do you a favor and sum it up in just a few sentences for each big idea proposed in this book.

But before I do that – I just want to say that I still think you should either buy the book or try to find a better summary of each principle. I’m going to sum them up VERY quickly, but they deserve more than that. I’m going to address each one individually in later posts, so stay tuned.

Summary Of Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion

  1. Reciprocation – Put simply, just give back! If someone does you a favor, do them one back without them asking. Don’t let someone buy you a round of drinks without you buying them one back later on in the night or the next time you go out. If someone gives you a holiday card, make sure you send one back. Many people understand this rule and practice it regularly. In future posts I’ll explain how this can be applied to your business and make you tons of money!
  2. Commitment & Consistency – A quote from the book says “Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision” So in layman’s terms, it means that we all have conscious or unconscious beliefs buried in our minds. If something goes against those beliefs, we’re going to stand up against it to prove that we’re right. Even more important for your business is that a person makes a commitment – especially on record – they will do almost anything to uphold that commitment and be consistent. I used this principle towards the top of the page at – see if you know what I mean and leave a comment.|
  3. Social Proof – This is very self-explanatory, and yet people still don’t put use it very wisely. Whenever you see testimonials or people saying they’ve worked with so-and-so…they’re using social proof. When used correctly and in combination with another principle (not addressed in the book) – it can be unbelievably powerful.
  4. Liking – Ahh, the power of making people like you. It seems so basic, yet it’s so important. For some people it’s very easy, for others it’s very hard. For instance, I’m not trying to toot my own horn but everyone I meet says I’m extremely easy to get along with. It’s probably because I utilize the principle of reciprocity and realize there is no reason to be mean to anyone else. Another aspect of this is appearance – which can be a problem that you may not even know of. Take me again…I’m a young guy so coming to this website you may have thought to yourself “he’s too young to be a good copywriter or know anything of value”. While I understand that, but I also think it’s ludicrous! Just keep this in mind whenever you’re trying to gain a new client – and play it to your advantage.
  5. Authority – Who would you rather listen to about copywriting…some unknown writer you’ve never heard of or someone like Clayton Makepeace? You would almost always choose Clayton Makepeace even if the unknown writer actually knew more than Clayton. This is because of the principle of authority. He’s shown that he has knowledge and has gone through the “test of time”. Why do you think people listen to doctors? I might personally know more about your health than a doctor, but since they have the degree – you’ll listen to them! The funny thing is that in my experience I can literally prove to someone that I know more about a subject than some “authority figure” and they’ll still pretend I know nothing.
  6. Scarcity – For a business, this can be one of the most powerful principles you’ll ever come across. Let’s take an example. Say you have Ebook “A” that is unlimited in the number of times it can sell. Then someone copies that same Ebook (we’ll call it “Ebook B”) and says “only 100 copies before it goes off the market!” Can you guess who’s going to sell the first 100 copies faster? This can be used in many different scenarios and is only limited to your imagination – so start thinking!

As I said earlier, in future blog posts I’ll be going into much further detail on each of these, complete with examples and stories.

Although I said the book is way too long, I still think it’s a good read. I ended up simply skimming the last 200 pages or so and picking up on the “good stuff”

If you’d like to check it out, you can buy Influence: The Psychology of Persuasionon Amazon for under $10.

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5 Responses to INFLUENCE: The Psychology Of Persuasion Book Review

  1. Scott Lovingood June 28, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    Was it too long or did he not provide the right story to get you involved?  I found both of his books to be similar.  Great concepts but the story left something to be desired.  Dan Ariely with Predictably Irrational covers a similar subject of psychology in a very similar way.  I think both of them could be shorter but for many people who aren’t in the business of influencing others (copywriters, marketers, etc) then the social proof provided by the examples may be needed to convince them. Keep up the good writing. 

    • Jeremy Reeves June 29, 2009 at 11:00 am #

      I’m not sure – I just couldn’t get into it. His concepts are AMAZING…I just couldn’t stay focused. I’m gonna try to re-read it shortly though since I know how powerful the concepts are.

      By the way I think you meant to say “for many people who ARE in the business of influencing others”… 🙂

      Anybody else feel the same about these books?


  2. Scott Lovingood June 29, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    Actually I meant that people who aren’t in the business of influencing others may need more social proof. People who are in the that busienss (ie copywriters, salesmens, direct marketers, etc) may be bored by the proof since they have seen it in action.

    Sorry for the confusion on that.

    One way that may make it helpful to read the book in chapters. Read one chapter, set the book down, go apply it or see where you can apply it in your work or where it has been used by others. Then go back about a week later and read the next chapter. I think that would be a better method than trying to read it through in one sitting.

    • Jeremy Reeves June 29, 2009 at 2:36 pm #


      Ooh ok I get what you mean now and yes I think you’re absolutely right.

      And that’s a great idea about reading the book like that. I think comprehension would be much better too if people did it like that. I’ll have to try it during my next read-through of the book.


  3. Courtney James July 25, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    Hey Jeremy, I agree: “The book is over 300 pages long, but it can literally be summed up in about 20 pages. To me, that’s just overkill.”

    This is one of the first books on persuasion I read and although the discoveries are priceless and worth memorization the book itself leaves much to be desired.

    I thank Cialdini for his research but your post sums it up nicely.

    I like to simplify things even further: CLARCCSS Contrast, Liking, Authority, Reciprocity, Commitment, Consistency, Scarcity, and Social Proof. One word I hope I never forget. Awesome stuff.

    Courtney James A.K.A. ObviousWriter on Twitter

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