Program addresses persuasiveness

IUS Horizon

James Kauffman, professor of communication, and Vijay Karishna, professor of advertising, presented a lecture on Tuesday, March 17, on how to persuade others to say yes to you.

The lecture was part of a series offered by the IUS Library called, “A Little Knowledge…”

Kauffman and Karishna’s lecture was based off of research by Robert Cialdini. Most of the presentation was based on Cialdini’s book called “Influence: Science and Practice.”

“Cialdini’s research is well-known. Although he is a psychologist, people are familiar with him in interpersonal communications,” Kauffman said. “We were more interested in the persuasion basis of Cialdini’s research.”

Kauffman and Karishna presented six strategies to convince a person to say yes. The six tactics were reciprocation, liking, commitment and consistency, authority, consensus and scarcity.

They call these the compliance tactics.

Kauffman said reciprocation works on the idea that you would do a favor for someone and they will hopefully return the favor one day.

Kauffman gave examples of where many people feel compelled to reciprocate.

He said it’s like when you receive a free bookmark or money in the mail, even though you did nothing at all.

Some people may feel they need to do something in

Liking was another tactic Kauffman said was a way to get people to comply.

He said the way a person could use this tactic was by praising the person before asking them to do a favor.

He said a good example was the fictional character, Eddie Haskell, from “Leave It to Beaver.” Haskell would say to Mrs. Beaver, “How are you today, Mrs. Beaver? You look nice today.” 

Kauffman warned Cialdini has found praising someone before asking for a favor can backfire if not presented in the right way.

Kauffman said what may inhibit us asking others for favors are their commitment and consistency; which is the third compliance tactic in Cialdini’s research.

Kauffman said when two people get married it’s done in front of big audiences, so it’s a commitment that’s hard to back out of.

He said many will feel an obligation or social pressure to work out the marriage instead of back out.

Karishna said the fourth tactic of compliance was authority.

“If the expert says something,” Karishna said, “it must be true.”

He also said they try to present their weaker argument first.

Advertisements for new medicines use the authority influence, he said.

“The authority figures will usually be the one with the white coat on,” Karishna said.

He said the white coat was just another way for them to look authoritative.

Staff Writer