Posted on Apr 13, 2020

Yes! Summary

PDF, Chapters & Review of Noah Goldstein, Steve Martin & Robert Cialdini’s Book

Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Persuasive

Authors: Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, & Robert B. Cialdini

Click Here to Get the PDF Summary of This Book & Many More

One type of card required eight stamps to receive a free car wash, with no stamps attached to the card. The other stated that ten stamps were needed to receive the free wash, but two stamps were already affixed to the card. This meant that both cards required eight washes to receive the reward, but the second group seemed well on its way to completing the card with 20 percent of the stamps needed for the free wash.


The book was written as a collection of 50 Principles based on social psychology studies. My summary captures the essence of each of the 50 studies/findings.

  1. The Power of Social Proof
  2. Relate to the audience in a way so that they see themselves in you
  3. If you use the principle of negative social proof, be careful not to indicate its prevalence because people will gravitate towards the norm
  4. Negative behavior will adjust toward normal “magnetic middle” while positive behavior needs to be recognized and rewarded
  5. Too many options are paralyzing
  6. When you give something away you have to express its value otherwise it will be seen as cheap. This is true for gifts and for when you’re giving someone else your time.
  7. High end framing – Having a high-end line & the main line. The top line brings prestige & the main line seems like a compromise and is attractively priced compared with the higher end model. People want a bargain. (Once you’ve made your primary service or product make one that is of higher quality but priced more steeply and it will improve overall sales)
  8. Fear without a plan for action causes apathy
  9. Generosity: Reciprocity is a more powerful incentive than money. People feel compelled to return favors.
  10. Always add a personal touch.
  11. Do something significant, unexpected and personalized.
  12. Build reciprocation on trust rather than monetary incentives.
  13. Willingness to return a favor declines over time
  14. If you have a big request first get them to agree to a smaller request
  15. Labeling – Label people with the traits you want them to show – “I know there is some good in you.”
  16. Compliance Momentum – Ask a question and get them to say ‘yes’, if you want an action from them later
  17. Active commitments – Get them to write something down
  18. Identify with the person. Tell them you would have done the same thing in their situation. Guide them in a direction by saying how this fits with their previously stated values
  19. One act of kindness is often followed by another – get someone to do a small favor for you – They’ll backward rationalize that they like you.
  20. “Every vote counts. OR  Even a penny will help.”
  21. Start bidding low, have low barrier for entry – frequency of bids equals more social proof, interaction, and value
  22. Always have 3rd party introduce you with your credentials. People will respect you, and assume you’re qualified. Never list your accomplishments yourself – this is boasting – you can put your awards on display on a slide and that is more indirect. Amusingly, even if the person is paid to speak positively on your behalf it still works
  23. Don’t be the smartest person in the room, or if you are, ask for advice and collective input, though the decision can still be wholly yours. Collective decision making doesn’t really work there are too many differing opinions.
  24. Have true dissenters, not just people playing Devil’s Advocate and you will have richer, more complicated discussion with more innovative solutions and conclusions. Leaders should encourage disagreement. If you don’t believe a person actually holds their opinion, a Devil’s advocate, then you don’t take it as seriously as someone who actually has a good reason for their opinion.
  25. Training should not focus solely on successful methods it should focus just as much on errors & common mistakes – you can learn from them and talk about how errors can be avoided
  26. Admitting your weaknesses earns the trust for people to be willing to listen to your strengths
  27. When you admit your weaknesses acknowledge the strength associated with it if there is one.
  28. Take responsibility for your mistakes – faulting internal factors shows you had control over the situation but failed, whereas when you place blame on external factors, it shows it is out of your control and could just as easily happen again. If possible describe a plan of action for how next time will be different
  29. People love similarities with themselves – Examples: people are more likely to fill out a survey if the surveyor has the same name or birthday as them.
  30. The amazing unconscious power of name similarity. Examples – Dennis is 40th most popular male name in the US, Jerry & Walter are 39th and 41st. Searching in the directory of the American Dental Association there were 257 Walter’s, 270 Jerry’s and 482 Dennis’. People whose names are George or Geoffrey are disproportionately likely to be involved in geosciences.  Hardware owners are 80% more likely to have names that start with the letter ”h“ than ”r“ but roofers are 70% more likely to have their name start with ”r“ than ”h“. People with their birthday on the second of a month are more likely to be living in a place called Two Harbors, Minnesota.
  31. Mirroring body language and repeating verbalizations increases rapport.
  32. Be genuine. Find virtues in other people.
  33. Point out scarcity, uniqueness, limited time, rarity, exclusivity
  34. Risk aversion. People are more worried about potential losses than potential gains – pitch lost things as a missed opportunity. Loss aversion explains a lot of human behavior.
  35. Always say ”Because“ helps for simple things even if you have a totally non-sequitur reason. But helps a lot if you have a good reason – Say why you are doing or asking for things
  36. Generating persuasiveness by asking for reasons works only if its easy to come up with reasons – 3 may work 10 will not – You can use reverse on the competition by asking customers to recall too many virtues about your competition. Also how easy someone can visualize going somewhere, doing something, or using something affects persuasion. This is all about fluency, we associate right and wrong with how easy something is to do.
  37. Simple and pronounceable names do better than complicated, unpronounceable names. As does simple clear speech and good handwriting – Again, Fluency is the key concept here.
  38. Rhymes are more fluently processed and therefore perceived to be more accurate, truthful and persuasive – ”If the glove doesn’t fit you must acquit“ or ”If the glove doesn’t fit you must find him not guilty“ ”Caution and measure will win you treasure“ or ”Caution and measure will win you riches“
  39. Everything is relative, it is all about contrast – people feel more secure with more information. If you receive a lot of information about  department store Brown’s and less about department store Smith’s you feel less favorable about smiths. But it doesn’t even need to be relevant if you hear a little info about Toyota and then a lot about Smith’s you feel good about Smith’s. If you heard more about Toyota’s than Smith’s you wouldn’t’ feel as good about Smiths.
  40. People are more likely to help when you indicate you’ve already started and made initial progress – or give someone some bonus to get them started initially- momentum is the biggest hurdle – Instead of buy 8 and get the 9th free. Have it buy 10 and start it off with two.
  41. Atypical unexpected names and descriptions with some ambiguity increase intrigue and persuasiveness.
  42. Use memory aides – ex place stat about social norms for drinking on beer glass. Memory is context sensitive. The info needs to be there at the ”point of sale“ or action / scene of the crime
  43. A mirror or another way of causing people to look at themselves makes them act more consistently with their values like honesty and trustworthiness. Wearing a name tag or displaying a name as similar effect – like at a meeting or an online handle – Also it doesn’t need to be a mirror it could just be a picture of some eyes.
  44. When one is emotionally sad or down they are more likely to sell low and buy high. When people are emotionally charged in either direction, happy or sad they are likely to only pay attention to presence or absence of something, the magnitude makes no difference. Focusing on numbers increases rationality – be aware of your mood when making important decisions. Give time for emotions to subside to prevent carryover from your state. Put off deliberations if one party is under stress – they’ll perceive you as more empathetic.
  45. Whenever someone makes a statement we accept it as true & can only reject it a fraction of a second later. But this takes more mental energy to falsify – this is harder to do when we are tired, or distracted. And it is even more persuasive if you momentarily distract someone by announcing the price in pennies and then say ”it is a bargain“  – ”during a moment of distraction a salesperson can stealthily insert a persuasive assertion under the radar. – In a study with people walking around during a bake sale people were more likely to purchase a cupcake if they referred to them as “half-cakes” rather than cupcakes but only when this was followed by the declaration “They’re delicious” .
  46. Arguments are more persuasive when people are alert – so drink coffee and don’t present right after lunch – summarize your best points in the middle of the speech, for one because caffeine takes 40 min to take effect and halfway through they will reach peak alertness.
  47. Emails don’t’ have non-verbal communication or intonation = less rapport – People misinterpret tone of an email and are less personal compared to face to face
  48. Different strategies for different cultures – In the US it is important to pitch individualism. In Asian countries, collectivism is more important and the value to the community
  49. Individualists operate on personal consistency – Collectivists on peer consistency. To an Individualist say “thank you, you did well” to a collectivist say “ Thank you, you and your colleagues did great work”
  50. Individualists are more concerned with conveying info, collectivists are more concerned about building and maintaining relationships – P.S. Collectivists hate answering machines.


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