A Deep Dive Into Persuasion Psychology and Its Principles

What comes to mind when you think of the term persuasion? Usually it’s some kind of marketing pitch asking you to buy a certain product or a political candidate attempting to encourage you to vote for them. But, believe it or not, persuasion involves more than just these two things. It is an integral part of your daily life. You frequently assume that you are impenetrable to persuade. And you are born with the ability to see through a sales pitch, discern the truth of a situation, and form your own opinions. However, psychology studies argue otherwise. So, in this persuasion psychology tutorial, you will dig into the complex nuances of persuasive psychology and its principles.

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What Is Persuasion?

Persuasion is the capacity to influence others' thoughts and attitudes through compelling arguments and facts. In a business environment, it is one of the most valued personality traits. Sales is the most obvious business sector that deals with persuasion. Functions such as human resource management, business management, and leadership also utilize persuasion to recruit team members and boost their efficiency.

Other instances of persuasion that you can observe around you are lawyers arguing in front of juries in crime movies, IT businesses urging clients to invest in better networking equipment, and cosmetic companies using famous celebrities to advertise their products.

What Is the Relationship Between Persuasion and Psychology?

According to the American Psychological Association, psychology is defined as the study of mind and behavior. Whereas persuasion is a process in which a person's opinions or behavior are affected by non-coercive communications from other individuals. If you examine these two definitions, persuasion is a mere tool to influence people, and psychology is the science studying that behavioral drive.

In this fast-paced world, you all rely on shortcuts or rules of thumb to guide your decision-making more than ever before. These shortcuts are most often the psychological traits driving human behavior through digital media, written contexts, and public speaking. So, moving ahead, you will discover those tools of psychology that navigate the art of persuasion.

The Top Five Principles of Persuasion Psychology

In 1984, Robert Cialdini published Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In it, he described psychological tools that influence people's decision-making in a commercial setting. 


So moving ahead, in this persuasion psychology tutorial, you will discover the top five principles of persuasion given by Robert Cialdini.

1. Principle of Reciprocity

All humans, to some extent, value equality and balance. This means you don't enjoy feeling like you owe other people. For example, if someone gives you a birthday present, you will certainly want to send them one in return. You'll do this when their birthday rolls in next to satisfy your feeling of social obligation. This eagerness to abide by social obligations is defined as the principle of reciprocity. 

If you are wondering how this can be implemented in a business environment. Then think about the last time you went to the restaurant. You must have received a small gift from the waiter about the same time they brought you your bill. A small mint, perhaps. Does that small gift affect the amount of tip you gave them? You’ll probably say no. But research shows that providing a single mint boosts the tip by 3%. 


Furthermore, if the waiter offers another mint saying here’s one more mint for you good people, then the tip climbs about 23%. This means the amount of tip is independent of the value of the gift, and rather it is dependent on the way it is presented. The key to using this principle of reciprocation is to be the first to give and ensure that what you give is personalized and unexpected.

2. Principle of Scarcity

The less of something there is, the more people tend to want it. For example, consider the scenario of iPhone 13 pro devices. Because of the ongoing worldwide semiconductor shortage, Apple INC announced the cut in production of 10 million iPhone 13 pro devices. After this announcement, the pre-booking and sales of this mobile phone went to the roof, increasing waiting time by about 15-20 days.


From this example, the science behind the principle of scarcity is pretty clear. You will have to create a sense of scarcity around the product you want to sell. It is not enough to just highlight the benefits of your product; you will have to tell people what is so unique about it and what they might stand to lose if they fail to consider your proposal immediately.

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3. Principle of Authority

Individuals who are authoritative, knowledgeable, and reputed in their respective fields are more influential and persuasive than those who are not. Part of the justification for this is that authority and credibility are fundamental components of trust. And you are more prone to follow someone you trust. 

In many realms of life, you witness the principle of authority in action. Dentists in white coats are used to promote toothpaste, the camera capabilities of mobile phones are marketed with the help of well-known movie directors.


Even in the corporate environment, strings of signatures are attached in the email to improve an individual's authority. You can achieve this in your business by recommending others so that they feel a social obligation to recommend you in return.

4. Principle of Consensus

Humans are social by nature, and they typically believe that adhering to the conventions of a social group is crucial. This belongingness to social proof always impacts human behavior and decision-making. Hotel towels are a great illustration of this persuasion principle. During your stay at the hotel, you must have come across small cards in your rooms asking you to reuse the towels for the sake of environmental protection. 


It turns out that this is a very effective method, resulting in nearly 34% compliance. But could there be a more effective way? Well, the research shows that adding the principle of consensus and bending the words on the message card as “8 out of 10 guests who stay in this room choose to reuse their towel” can lead to a 52% increase in the reuse of towels.

However, this principle of consensus is challenging to apply from a personal perspective in the workplace. You’ll have to achieve this by maintaining your brand's reputation and ethics.

5. Principle of Liking

Given human nature, people are much more likely to like people that are similar to them, who pay them compliments, and who cooperate with them, than those who don’t. According to Cialdini's research, a group of MBA students who were asked to get straight down to the business could reach an agreement at a rate of 55%. Whereas students who were encouraged to discuss their personal interests before negotiation were able to reach an agreement 90% of the time. This is simply due to the sharing of personal interests and the creation of a sense of likeliness.

To consider this in the form of a business context. Take the example of Apple stores. It's no surprise that this high-end, high-tech Apple store is manned by representatives dressed up in jeans and t-shirts rather than typical suits and ties. 


Apple uses the liking principle to its advantage. This strategy of Apple Inc. implies, “I am a human being, just like you." I'm casual and approachable”. This strategy creates a sense of belonging in customers to purchase Apple’s products.

All these five persuasion psychology principles provide for small, ethically sound, and often costless changes that can lead to substantial alterations in your capacity to convince others to buy your products. Hence, conduct a thorough analysis of these persuasion psychology principles and implement them in your workspace.

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In this persuasion psychology tutorial, you learned what persuasion is all about. After that, you looked into the relationship between persuasion and psychology. Next, you discovered the top 5 principles of persuasion psychology given by Robert Cialdini. These principles are ethically sound and can help you make a huge difference in convincing others to improve your sales.

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If you have any questions or need clarification on any section of this persuasion psychology tutorial, please leave them in the comments section at the bottom of this page; we will respond to them soon.

About the Author

Kartik MenonKartik Menon

Kartik is an experienced content strategist and an accomplished technology marketing specialist passionate about designing engaging user experiences with integrated marketing and communication solutions.

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