Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini

Author:Robert Cialdini [Cialdini, Robert]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: 2016-09-06T04:00:00+00:00


In early 2015 a New York Times article ignited an explosion of reader interest and commentary, going viral and becoming one of the most widely spread Times pieces ever. For a news outlet such as the Times, this occurrence might not seem extraordinary, given its elevated journalistic standing on topics of great national and international import. But this particular piece appeared not in its Politics, Business, Technology, Science, or Health pages but in the Fashion & Styles section. As is reflected in the essay’s title, “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This,” its author, Mandy Len Catron, claimed to have found a marvelously effective way to produce the intense emotional closeness and social bonds of love—in the space of forty-five minutes! She knew it worked, she said, because it had worked for her.

The technique came from a program of research initiated by a husband-and-wife team of psychologists, Arthur and Elaine Aron, who hit upon it in their investigations of close relationships. It involves a specific form of coordinated action, in which partners engage in a reciprocal, turn-taking exchange sequence. Other psychologists have demonstrated that a history of reciprocally exchanged favors leads individuals to give additional favors to their exchange partner, no matter who provided the last one. It’s a tendency that fits with my account of the Harrisons’ agreeing to house an eighteen-year-old student they had never met, not because they owed his family a favor but because they had a decade-long history of exchanging holiday cards with them. The process of reciprocal exchange had prompted the Harrisons’ assent by creating a relationship rather than an unmet obligation.

The Arons and their coworkers helped explain this kind of willing assent by showing how extended reciprocal exchanges bind the transactors together. They did so by employing a particularly unifying type of reciprocal exchange strong enough to “unify” people into love with each other: personal self-disclosure. The procedure was not complicated: In pairs, participants took turns reading questions to their partner, who would answer, and who would then receive their partner’s answer to the same item. Advancing through the thirty-six questions required participants to disclose progressively more personal information about themselves and, in turn, to learn more personal information about their partner. An early question would be, “What would constitute a perfect day for you?” whereas later in the sequence, a question would be, “What do you value most in a friendship?” And near the end of the list, a question would be, “Of all the people in your family, whose death would be the most disturbing?”

Relationships deepened beyond all expectations. The procedure generated feelings of emotional closeness and interpersonal unity that are unparalleled within a forty-five-minute span, especially among complete strangers in an emotionally sterile laboratory setting. Moreover, the outcome was no chance occurrence. According to an interview with Elaine Aron, hundreds of studies using the method have since confirmed the effect, and some participants have even gotten married as a result. In that same interview, Dr. Aron described two aspects of the procedure that she felt are key to its effectiveness.


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