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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

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EPISODE # 187

Robert Cialdini — Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (book cover)

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller (over 5 million copies sold in over 40 languages), Robert Cialdini — New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion — explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don’t have to be a scientist to learn how to use this science.

Robert Cialdini is Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University and an award-winning behavioral scientist and author. He is the president and CEO of Influence at Work, focusing on live and virtual keynotes, streaming and online corporate training. In acknowledgement of his outstanding research achievements and contributions in behavioral science, Dr. Cialdini was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He has over 230 professional and scientific publications. Dr. Cialdini is known as the foundational expert in the science of influence and is frequently referred to as the “Godfather of Influence.”

Shermer and Cialdini discuss:

  • Cialdini’s Universal Principles of Influence and 7 Principles of Persuasion:

    • Reciprocation
    • Commitment and Consistency
    • Social Proof
    • Liking
    • Authority
    • Scarcity
    • Unity
  • good and evil uses of these principles,
  • Do we default to truth and naturally believe what people tell us?
  • Are we natural-born skeptics or natural-born sheep?
  • How rational are humans? Kahneman/Tversky (cognitive biases) vs. Gingerenzer/Tooby & Cosmides (bounded rationality),
  • pluralistic ignorance,
  • free will/determinism,
  • Are we all Nazis? Hugo Mercier, Not Born Yesterday, Germans ≠ Nazis, most people don’t join cults, most political advertising doesn’t work, etc.,
  • Jonestown, Heavens’ Gate, Nxivm, Scientology: why people join cults,
  • Milgram: Obedience to authority, role playing, social facilitation, social proof?
  • smoke in the room: conformity as a cognitive heuristic for survival, not a bug in the system,
  • Why didn’t the other cops stop Derek Chauvin from killing George Floyd?
  • thoughts on the movements #BLM, #metoo, antiracism, social justice,
  • Israel and Palestine: how can we apply the principles of influence to solve that seemingly insoluble problem?
  • How we can use the principles of influence to expand the moral sphere to include everyone as a rights-bearing member of our species; i.e., true universal human rights.

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This episode was released on June 8, 2021.

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