#55/111: Influence

What is it about?

What influences your decisions? What have citizens’ action committee and Chinese communists in common? Robert B. Cialdini writes about different studies which analyzed how people’s decisions are influenced.

What can I learn?

Rejection-then-retreat: This technique is often applied. You request something greater to get a smaller thing done. Let’s imagine that you sell dining tables. You could take your customer to the cheapest table in the hope that he will buy that, at least. Or you could take him to the most expensive, which he will probably reject and then move to cheaper ones. Not really surprisingly the second approach works far better. However, it is surprising that your customer will also be more satisfied because you retreated.

Lowballing: This is an interesting technique outside of business, where it is probably illegal. Cialdini talks about an experiment where citizen signed for an initiative to make their city prettier. Some weeks later they were asked if they would offer their garden to place a huge sign saying “please drive slower for your own safety”. Many more people accepted who signed for the initiative than those who didn’t. Why? Signing the initiative shifted their self-perception to being a responsible citizen. More interesting, the Chinese communists used the same technique for prisoners in the Korean war.

Social proof: This one is relatively well-known. Cialdini quotes a statistics that says that about 95% of all people are followers, i.e. if they see that most people use a product, they will also use it. If you take a step further and apply scarcity it will become more interesting. So, we got a product that people want but there isn’t enough for everybody. The triggered response will probably to buy the product as fast as possible.


What a great book! There are lots of insights and awesome stories, raging from door-to-door sales people to Chinese communists in war to a doomsday cult which was infiltrated by two psychology professors. If you haven’t read this book yet, go to Amazon, your next bookstore or the next library and read it! Recommendation!

#9/111: :59 Seconds

What is it about?

Prof Wiseman writes about a lot of psychological misconceptions in various topics like creativity, relationships or happiness. For each of these topics he cities scientific studies, busts old myths and gives valuable tips.

Key points?

There is many great material in this book, so here is an example. You want to come up with a creative solution to a problem: You can brainstorm with a group, brainstorm alone or solve a hard word puzzle. Which one will you take? If you believe in scientific studies, the last one. Researchers have shown that brainstorming in groups decreases the quality and quantity of ideas. The best way is ask your subconsciousness. But how?

Think about your problem for some seconds. Now you have to distract your consciousness mind. E.g. try to solve a hard word puzzle. If you have finished think another some seconds about your problem and write down your solutions.


This book is just tremendous. There is so much actionable advice in this book about a bunch of different topics. The best thing: This advice got a scientific background, it is not just happy world advice. Furthermore, Richard Wiseman cities studies which shows that a lot of this self-help literature is not helping at all or is actually worsening the situation.

cogito ergo sum.

“New research by American oldness profs has revealed that senior citizens who believe that age affects memory are self-fulfilling prophets. They score much worse on memory tests than those who don’t believe in decline with age” —Oldsters: If you think you’ll lose your memory, you will

That’s informative. I’m convinced that you can achieve nearly anything if you really want to. The other way around it also works according to this article.
Therefore, if you are very pessimistic you’ll probably see more bad things than other people. And if you are very optimistic you’ll probably see more good things than other people.

In conclusion, pursue your goals in life, believe in yourself and be a bit optimistic.