Cialdini is a professor of Marketing and Psychology, and in this book he attempts to show how the marketers use psychological methods to trick people into doing things they didn't originally plan doing. He lists the six "weapons of influence":

  • Reciprocation
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Social proof
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity

Each approach is described in detail, with many examples and interesting case studies done by professional psychologists. These studies sometimes give entirely unexpected results that help highlight aspects of human nature. The techniques the author talks about also resonate well with my experience of encounters with salesmen and people trying to persuade me to buy something / donate / participate or whatever.

That said, although this book is pretty good, it is unfortunately not what I expected. This shows the danger of judging the book by its back cover, which in this case says:

[...] explains the psychology of why people say yes - and how to apply these understandings. [...] You'll learn [...] how to use them to become a skipped persuader, and how to defend yourself against them.

Alas, the book mainly focuses on the last part of the quote above - how to defend yourself against tricks attempted on you by skilled salesmen. Because unless you're into marketing yourself, I doubt that you'll want to use these techniques - the author openly defines them as con acts carefully designed to trick people into doing things they don't really want to do.

Judging by the quotes above I expected a modern version of Carnegie's "How to win friends and influence people", but Cialdini's book just goes in an entirely different direction. This is not to say that it's bad. As I noted above, it's a pretty interesting book. But it helps to know what to expect from it. If you're a salesman, it's probably a must. Otherwise, don't expect more than an entertaining read on everyday psychology, with perhaps some useful tips on how to say no to salesmen and not feel too bad about it.