Please take me back to the
People are more likely to be persuaded by many weak arguments,
rather than a few good arguments, when they are:
- a) in a rush
- b) not particularly interested in the
- c) moderately concerned about the topic
- d) both a & b
If you're attempting to sell a customer an item from your
company's lineup of three models (the "economy," the
"midrange," and the "luxury" model), research
has demonstrated you will obtain higher sales figures by:
- a) starting at the bottom and moving
up the line;
- b) starting at the top and moving down the line;
- c) starting at the middle and then
allowing customers to "own the decision" by moving
up or down the line themselves.
Years of tracking political elections have revealed that the
single most reliable predictor of who will win an election is
the candidate who:
- a) is the most physically attractive;
- b) produces the greatest number of
negative or "attack" ads against his opponent;
- c) has the most active and committed
- d) spends the most time focusing on
Research has shown the general relationship between self-esteem
and persuadability to be:
- a) people with low self-esteem are
the most persuadable;
- b) people with average self-esteem are the most persuadable;
- c) people with high self-esteem are
the most persuadable.
Imagine you are the (unlucky) campaign manager of a political
candidate who has recently lost the public's trust. Now imagine
that the candidate wants to rebuild his reputation through profiling
himself as a tough crime-fighter. Of the following choices, which
represents the best way for your candidate to start his next
- a) "My opponent has not gone far
enough in fighting crime . . ."
- b) "Many have supported my ability
and willingness to fight crime . . ."
c) "Although my opponent has a good record of fighting crime,
. . ."
Imagine you are a financial advisor, and you believe that
a young client of yours is invested too conservatively. In order
to persuade her to invest in riskier, high-return investments,
you should concentrate on describing:
- a) how others like her have made similar
mistakes (appeal to consensus);
- b) what she stands to gain if she invests
in riskier options (appeal to greed);
- c) what she stands to lose if she does not invest in riskier
options (appeal to loss).
Research has demonstrated that jurors are most persuaded by:
- a) an expert witness who uses easy-to-understand
- b) an expert witness who speaks in incomprehensible language;
- c) a witness who speaks with conviction.
If you have a new piece of information, when should you mention
a) before you present the information
b) in the middle of the presentation of
c) after the presentation of the information
d) you should not mention that it is new information.
Imagine you are presenting your case, and that you are coming
to the part
of your presentation that contains good, strong arguments for
position. How quickly should you speak?
a) you should speak very rapidly
b) you should speak somewhat rapidly
c) you should speak at a moderate rate
d) you should slow down
Which of the following excuses has been found to be the most
effective way to get out of a traffic ticket in court?
a) Admission of guilt, followed by an apology,
such as "I did change lanes without turning on my signal,
and I apologize for that." (97% of the drivers using this
approach were asked to pay the whole fine.)
b) Apology with a denial of intent: "I'm sorry I changed
lanes without turning on my signal--I didn't intend to break
the law, it's just that I was changing lanes quickly to avoid
another motorist." (While only 30% of drivers using this
type of argument are asked to pay the whole fine, very few people
rely on this approach.)
c) Pointing out that the infraction was
the result of the driving environment or another motorist: "Another
driver abruptly cut me off and I had to move out of his way quickly.
I didn't have time to put on my signal." (Over 80% of drivers
who used this excuse were asked to pay the whole fine.)
d) Citing lack of knowledge combined with giving consensus information:
"I didn't realize that signals had to be used even when
no other cars are following closely. Virtually nobody uses signals
when changing lanes in light traffic." (Over 90% of the
drivers using this approach were asked to pay the full fine.)
How did you do?
- 8-10 right: You're an influence genius! There's nothing I
can teach you, so don't spend another second here. Go write that
book on persuasion, and send me a copy of it when you're finished.
- 6-8 right: An impressive performance. You'll enjoy reading
this website as supplementary material to your large knowledge
- 4-6 right: You are good at persuading people, but you need
to read this website to refine your technique.
- 2-4 right: You could use some improvement. Read the Academic
Approach portion before your next influence attempt, and
sign up for one of my influence classes at University
of Southern California.
- 0-3 right: I have some real estate that I'd like to sell
you . . .
Are you an "influence genius"? If so, great! If
not, don't be too hard on yourself. It's taken thousands of psychological
researchers many decades to discover the answers to questions
like those above. If you want to improve your score, many of
the issues raised here are discussed under the Academic
Approach portion of this web site.
Copyright © 1997 by Kelton Rhoads, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
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