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Influence. The Psychology of Persuasion (in IT)


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This presentation is inspired by famous book by Robert Cialdini "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" and will be useful to those who would like to get acquainted with popular weapons of influence or just broaden own outlook. It recalls real life cases mentioned in the book as well as similar situations that are fully IT-related and based on my own experience and observation.

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Published in: Leadership & Management
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Influence. The Psychology of Persuasion (in IT)

  1. 1. Influence The Psychology of Persuasion* (in IT) TARAS MATYASHOVSKYY * Inspired by Robert Cialdini famous book
  2. 2. About me
  3. 3. Warning When using approaches described ahead, make sure that you use them honestly and by persuading people to do things that are good for them. If you persuade people to do things that are wrong for them, then this is manipulative, and it's unethical.
  4. 4. The 6 Principles of Influence also known as the Weapons of Influence • Reciprocation • Consistency • Social proof • Liking • Authority • Scarcity
  5. 5. Weapons of Influence
  6. 6. Shortcut “Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking of them.” - Alfred North Whitehead, English mathematician and philosopher
  7. 7. Shortcut Motivations People tend to respond intelligently to the information when they have the desire and the ability to thoroughly analyze it
  8. 8. Shortcut Examples
  9. 9. Shortcut Examples • Expensive = good • Pink for girls, blue for boys • Dolls for girls, cars for boys • Handbag and shoes should match • Blondes and IQ • All domestic goods are of poor quality • Etc.
  10. 10. Shortcut Examples in IT • Legacy projects • Testing takes a lot of time • Technology X sucks • Customer doesn’t know what he/she wants • TL/PM knows what he/she is doing • Similar tasks – same old solutions • Etc.
  11. 11. Contrast Principle The way we see the difference between two things that are presented one after another
  12. 12. Contrast Principle Examples • Real estate agents and rents • Expensive thing first, accessories second • Beautiful woman first, less attractive second • Etc.
  13. 13. Contrast Principle Examples in IT • Interesting task first, boring second • Complex task first, simple second • Project descriptions during recruiting • Etc.
  14. 14. Reasoning People simply like to have reasons for what they do
  15. 15. Effect Captainitis Automatic, but irrational compliance usually thrives in organizations with clearly defined hierarchies
  16. 16. Effect Captainitis in IT Mistakes made by senior engineers, TL/PM, customer/clients are easily ignored
  17. 17. Reciprocation Give and Take
  18. 18. Give and Take As humans, we generally aim to return favors, pay back debts, and treat others as they treat us
  19. 19. Reciprocation Examples • Quid pro quo • Birthday presents • Invitations to parties • Expression of courtesy • etc.
  20. 20. The Reciprocation Rule Is Overpowering It overwhelms the influence of a factor, liking for the requester, that normally affects the decision to comply
  21. 21. The Reciprocation Rule is a Weapon of Influence The rule enforces uninvited debts
  22. 22. The Reciprocation Rule is a Weapon of Influence The rule can trigger unfair exchanges
  23. 23. The Reciprocation Rule is a Weapon of Influence Reciprocal concessions, i.e. rejection-then-retreat technique
  24. 24. The Reciprocation Rule in IT • Extremely complex task – retreat – complex task, that was the goal right from the start • Extremely boring task – retreat – boring task, that was the goal right from the start • Expensive conference compensation – retreat – cheaper conference compensation • Headhunter offer – retreat – “Can you recommend someone?” • Etc.
  25. 25. Should I Say No? • reciprocation rule is not bad in general • reject is not the best option • favor vs. trick
  26. 26. Commitment and Consistency
  27. 27. Commitment and Consistency “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.” - Leonardo da Vinci, Italian painter, scientist, and engineer
  28. 28. From Commitment to Consistency Humans have a deep desire to be consistent. For this reason, once we've committed to something, we're then more inclined to go through with it.
  29. 29. Commitment Examples • “Watch my things” • Signing petitions • Lowball strategy • College initiation ceremony • Etc.
  30. 30. Commitment is the Key • committing power of written or verbal statement • committing power of public statement • committing power when appropriate actions are effortful
  31. 31. Commitment Is Not Always Bad
  32. 32. Commitment in IT • Meetings • Action items after meetings • Wiki pages • Emails sent to “all” • Etc.
  33. 33. Commitment and Consistency “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer, and poet
  34. 34. Social Proof
  35. 35. Social Proof "safety in numbers" “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.” - Walter Lippmann, American writer, reporter, and political commentator
  36. 36. The Principle of Social Proof We use to determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct
  37. 37. Social Proof Examples
  38. 38. Social Proof Examples • Put a tip in a jar if it already contains money • Laugh if we hear canned laughter • Buy goods influenced by commercials using average-person-on-the-street • Etc.
  39. 39. Social Proof Conditions • we are feeling uncertain or ambiguous • we are even more likely to be influenced if the people we see seem to be similar to us
  40. 40. Situation in which a majority of group members privately reject a norm, but incorrectly assume that most others accept it, and therefore go along with it Pluralistic Ignorance Phenomenon
  41. 41. Pluralistic Ignorance Phenomenon
  42. 42. Pluralistic Ignorance Phenomenon
  43. 43. Pluralistic Ignorance Phenomenon Since nobody is concerned, nothing is wrong
  44. 44. Pluralistic Ignorance Phenomenon in IT
  45. 45. • Missed feature/critical bug • Missed meetings • Inconsistency in processes • Code quality • Failed unit tests • Etc. Pluralistic Ignorance Phenomenon in IT
  46. 46. Liking
  47. 47. Liking “The main work of a trial attorney is to make a jury like his client.” - Clarence Darrow, American lawyer
  48. 48. Liking We are more likely to be influenced by people we like
  49. 49. Likability Forms • People might be physically attractive • People might be similar or familiar to us • People might give us compliments • People might be associated with smth. good or successful • We may just simply trust them • Etc.
  50. 50. Liking
  51. 51. Liking in IT • Overrate colleague • Overrate team lead • Overrate PM • Overrate customer/client • Etc.
  52. 52. Luncheon Technique Humans can become fonder of the people and things they experienced while they were eating
  53. 53. Luncheon Technique in IT • Team building • Corporate parties • Coffee breaks • Etc.
  54. 54. Authority
  55. 55. Authority “Follow an expert.” - Virgil, Roman poet
  56. 56. Authority Humans feel a sense of duty or obligation to people in positions of authority
  57. 57. Authority Accessories • job titles • uniform • status • height • attributes • etc. can lend an air of authority and can persuade us to accept what these people say
  58. 58. Authority or not? • remove element of surprise • ask yourself – is this authority truly an expert • seek for the authority’s credentials and the relevance of those credentials to the topic at hand • may show apparent lack of concern for personal profit in order to look more frankful
  59. 59. Authority in IT
  60. 60. Authority in IT
  61. 61. Authority in IT • Is senior engineer truly a senior? • Is architect really an expert in this technology stack? • Is manager truly an expert in risk mitigation, understands development processes, estimates techniques, etc.? • Is this customer/client truly a domain expert (SME)?
  62. 62. Authority in IT Push from customer for specific technology, framework, tool, etc. without getting into the essence of the problem
  63. 63. Scarcity
  64. 64. Scarcity “The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.” - G. K. Chesterton, English writer, theologian, poet, philosopher, dramatist
  65. 65. Scarcity
  66. 66. Scarcity Opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited
  67. 67. Scarcity People seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value
  68. 68. Why It Works • Shortcut • Psychological reactance theory
  69. 69. Censorship and Scarcity Principle
  70. 70. Other Aspects of Scarcity Principle • recently less available vs. have always been scarce • competition-for-limited-resources- fever • discounts • real estate agents • the same appointment time approach • auction • uniqueness
  71. 71. Scarcity in IT • Unique task • Unique skill set • Unique title • Unique project • Etc.
  72. 72. Psychological Reactance Theory in IT • Time tracking • Freelance vs. out staff • Fixed work schedule • 20 kinds of tea – 2 kinds of tea • Etc.
  73. 73. Epilogue
  74. 74. Epilogue “Every day in every way, I’m getting busier.” - Robert Cialdini, American professor, writer
  75. 75. Rapidity of Modern Daily Life • We contact more people and have shorter relationships with them • We are faced with an array of choices among styles and products • We travel more and faster • We relocate more frequently to new residences • Etc.
  76. 76. Rapidity of Modern Daily Life Our ability to collect, store, retrieve, communicate and analyze information is limited
  77. 77. Evolvement of Technology • Technology evolve much faster • Our natural capacity to process information is likely to be increasingly inadequate Shortcuts to rescue
  78. 78. Decision Making and IT • we don’t use all the relevant available information • we use, instead, only a single, highly representative piece of the total • an isolated piece of information can lead us to clearly stupid mistakes
  79. 79. Resistance • Be aware • Change current conditions • Take your time • Collect more data and analyze it more carefully • Listen to your gut feeling
  80. 80. Q&A Thank you!
  81. 81. References Psychology-Persuasion-Revised- Edition/dp/006124189X cle/six-principles-influence.htm 19.html tid=797