Click, Whirr? — Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
- Our minds respond on autopilot if we let them, and that can be a big mistake.
- It is scary how easily well adjusted, intelligent people can be influenced and manipulated.
- Knowing the principles and tactics discussed in this book could help you better evaluate the choices you make day to day (and could help you manipulate people if that’s your thing).
- You probably should take some notes — they’ll come in handy one day.
You should read if:
- You don’t want to get scammed.
- You’re interested in how you could scam others.
- You want to make decisions based on logic and stop relying on your dumb lizard brain.
You should not read if:
- You’re not really into practical psychology.
- You have ‘ignorance is bliss’ tattooed on your forearm in typewriter text.
The good things to take away:
- When I want something from here on out I’ll give a reason (using ‘because’)
- Before I buy something I need to think more critically about why it costs what it does, what am I comparing the purchase to, and what does this salesperson want me to do or think.
- If I want people to like me I just need to dress nicer and give people presents.
The Nitty Gritty
In college I took a class called ‘Theories of Persuasion’ mostly because of the name.
Also I might have been interested in learning how to con people out of money or subtlety influencing pretty girls to like me. (Narrator: It did not work.)
Sitting there in my sweatpants, I remember thinking the class was fascinating. It was so interesting to me that people could be so easily manipulated and deceived.
At this same time in my life I was also ‘ghostriding the whip’ on campus and lugging a couch around with my friends to take pictures with it in various places in the city of Austin.
Take those two things for what they’re worth.
I do recall, however, reading parts of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini and finding it captivating. So a wife, a kid, and a mortgage later, I picked the book back up with a whole new appreciation.
Morons say what?
Cialdini has a P.H.D. so he never said this directly in the book, but if I read between the lines appropriately, I have come to this astounding realization:
We are morons.
It’s not our fault really, but it seems as a human race we are unfortunately predisposed to certain behaviors and thought patterns that seem to take over whenever we face similar situations. Cialdini refers to this as the ‘click, whirr’ effect — a situation acts as a prompt on us, by unconscious mind we pop in the familiar tape that we’ve used in the past to respond to this situation, press play (click), and away we go (whirr).
This situation plays out in so many situations in our daily lives: we buy the more expensive car because we equate expensive with good quality, we assume that the movie star is smart or kind because she is beautiful, or we rush to buy a plane ticket when the screen yells ‘2 seats left at this price!’
Cialdini does an amazing job at taking the findings of his studies that reveal our automatic behaviors and breaking them down into relatable situations. He seeks to protect the reader from making mistakes based on the click, whirr response, so that we can make rational decisions based on facts.
So is it worth it?
This book is an important read for anyone who plans to make a big purchase in their lifetime. All at once a real estate agent, for example, could be showing you a cruddy home before a nicer one to implement the contrast principle, offering you a higher price on the house than is reasonable because he knows you equate expensive with good, and all the while flashing a smile and talking with you about your love of fishing to initiate the Halo effect.
Now I know none of that makes sense if you haven’t read the book, but doesn’t it kind of make you want to read it now?
Read it and take notes, kids, or you’re just another cog in the wheel.