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The Six Principles Behind The Science of Persuasion

The Science of Persuasion: What is it?

We have the power to capture the public, influence the undecided, and motivate purchases. There’s no magic involved, but actually scientific knowledge. The science of persuasion or Science of Influence comes from social psychology.

Books and Influence: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini shows us how we can develop our communication skills in order to influence the decisions of individualsRobert Cialdini is a professor of social psychology at Arizona State University and has conducted a series of investigations on the operation of persuasion in real life.

Based on his research, the theory of persuasive communication has been developed. It’s based on taking advantage of certain behavioral patterns collectively internalized in the human psyche, in order to influence behavior. It’s about understanding how we can develop our communication skills in order to influence the decisions of individuals.

So, we’re going to develop the 6 principles of persuasion, and show you how you can apply them to your business or marketing strategy! They are:

• 1: Reciprocity

• 2: Consistency

• 3: Social Proof 

• 4: Sympathy/Like-ability

• 5: Authority

• 6: Scarcity

The main objective when implementing these principles is to get more sales, more subscriptions, more visits to your website, and more downloads. This means you’ll be able to capture your website’s users and transform them into customers!

Let’s take a look at how we can apply some of these techniques in order to obtain benefits (conversions, clicks, shares, sales, emails, subscribers and more!).

If you’re a marketer, social media manager, or simply want to make your project work better, be sure to read these 6 principles of persuasion:

The Science of Persuasion Principle #1: “Reciprocity”

Social norms compel us to respond to a favor with another favor, in order to not be considered ungrateful. Think about your daily life … Isn’t easier to get a person to do you a favor after you’ve given them a gift or done something for them? That feeling of obligation makes them more inclined to agree to your request.

An initial favor will be reciprocated many times over in the future. The most common example of applying this principle in marketing are “free samples”. But be careful! To use the principle of reciprocity to influence others, we must first be clear about who our target audience, know why we want to influence them, and what exactly those people want. Once you’ve got all this, you can identify what would be appealing to them to receive for free, that way you can implement the principle of reciprocity successfully.

The Science of Persuasion Principle #2: “Commitment” (and Consistency)

Human beings have a tendency to want to appear consistent in front of other people. We have a need to be consistent with what we’ve done, what we said, and what we’ve bought.

The influence of the principle of commitment is based on the desire to look and appear like a person with consistent attitudes and behavior over time. Once we’ve publicly committed to something or someone, then we’re much more likely to go through with the plan… hence consistency.

Marketers have figured out how to use Cialdini’s second principle in their efforts to get higher conversion rates. They can make site visitors commit to something relatively small and usually free of charge, like a technical document, filling out a form, or creating an account. This increases the likelihood that site visitors see themselves as loyal customers over time, and allows for easy access to the purchasing products or joining certain services.

The Science of Persuasion Principle #3:  “Social Proof”

You arrive to a new city that you’re not familiar with and you go out looking for a restaurant. You get downtown and there are two very similar restaurants. However, there’s one fundamental difference: one is almost full and the other is completely empty. Which one would you choose?

We act in the same way that our society does (or social sub-groups) in order to be accepted by it. Even when society is wrong! The famous economist Keynes said: “It’s easier to do wrong with the masses than to turn around and face the masses and tell the truth.”

We tend to follow trends. And you can harness the power of social proof to dramatically increase conversion rates of your website. Messages like: “9 out of 10 people recommend ….” are good examples of the principle of social proof beeing applied to marketing. In this example, the sales pitch is based on the rate of collective approval.

The Science of Persuasion Principle #4: “Sympathy/Like-ability”

If you like someone your more likely to do something they want or ask. This principle is also based on something as superficial as the physical appearance of a person.

Companies that use sales agents within their community use this principle with great success. People are more likely to buy from people like themselves, friends, and people they know and respect. That’s why it’s so important to study your potential customers.

This principle can be applied to Social Media Marketing as follows: A company that wants to increase their conversion rates, should simply focus on creating a beautifully executed page with elements that make the visitor feel represented by images, colors, words, and the people shown in it.

The Science of Persuasion Principle #5: “Authority”

When customers feel unsure about a purchase, they usually look for a testimony from a “person with authority on the subject” to serve as a guide. That’s why the opinion of professionals or experts is already a classic in the world of advertising.


  • If an authority figure or a leader in your industry has made a positive comment about your product or service, make it known by showing it on your landing page or your pricing page. It’ll help increase your sales!

The Science of Persuasion Principle #6: “Scarcity”

With this principle of the Science of Persuasion, people have to know that they’re going to miss it if they don’t act quickly.

The law of supply and demand plays a big role in the principle of scarcity. If the customer perceives a low supply or high demand for a good, they’ll show that they’re immediately interested and even willing to pay a higher price. Opportunities seem more valuable when we find it harder to get them.

These 6 principles of persuasion and influence have been used for decades by companies, salesmen, and unconsciously by each one of us in our daily lives.

Ever since the explosion of e-commerce over the Internet, Cialdini’s six principles have naturally adapted to this new scheme. Persuasion is the name of the game in the world of business.

Perhaps you weren’t aware of this before. But now you know that if you apply them correctly, you’ll be able to generate an unmistakable boost in your conversion rates over time. Don’t be afraid to give your potential customers a free sample or two, and definitely tell them how your product won’t be available for much longer at certain prices.


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