Monday, November 12, 2007

How We are Influenced and Persuaded

"Weapons of Influence"

When in new situations, all we human beings cope in similar ways. New circumstances bombard us with information, all ideas that we must put into perspective, so we trust impressions and “rules of thumb” to make the many decisions that new situations demand of us. Especially in today’s information driven world, we find the need to take these “shortcuts,” especially when we are bombarded with new, complex ideas in new settings.

Here are the primary shortcuts that we fearfully and wonderfully made creatures use to cut through the information:

  • Reciprocity (Tendency to repay others in kind.)
  • Commitment and Consistency (Tendency to portray themselves ad consistent examples in word, deed, beliefs and attitudes. It is a mechanism of commitment to one’s personality and self-understanding.)
  • Social Proof (Investigation of truth by observing and/or complying with consensus.)
  • Liking (Seeking to be liked and want to be treated as though they are liked.)
  • Authority (Tendency to respond and submit to authority.)
  • Scarcity (Tendency to value items or opportunities that are limited.)

Under reasonable circumstances, these otherwise practical techniques serve us to cut through the processing of information; however, these “shortcuts” can provide a foothold for our manipulation. Learning how these tendencies work can help us resist undue influence and make better decisions.