• David de Souza

Methods of Persuasion Summary: How to Use Psychology to Influence Human Behavior



If you only take one nugget from this book, let it be this: People often do not seek help in ambiguous situations because of fear of embarrassment. Don't be influenced by social pressure when it comes to helping people. If someone appears that they might need help, don't look to others. People are looking to you.

Want to dig deeper than the core principles? Check out:



Core Principles:


I have summarised 'Methods of Persuasion', distilling the book into 16 core principles:

  1. We each see reality through a different lens. If you can change the lens, you can shift the way people see reality.

  2. Rapport highly influences people and one of the best ways to build rapport is by emphasizing similarities.

  3. The Name-Letter Effect: We prefer people, products and things that have a similar name to us.

  4. Asking someone about their interests will help to identify their similarities but it will also show interest which will also build rapport.

  5. Use words like "we" and "us" to trigger in-group favoritism.

  6. Information presented earlier has a greater impact compared to information that is shown later. 1x2x3x4x5 will be estimated as being less than 5x4x3x2x1.

  7. "First impressions are absolutely critical. People's initial exposure to your message will mold their perception for the remainder of your message. In order to maximize your persuasion, you need to create a strong initial impression so that you convey high expectations for the rest of your message".

  8. Offer a low/moderate/high price option. The high priced option will act as a decoy and help to convert more people from the low to the medium.

  9. Our expectations define how we see the world. Our brain projects what we see based on our expectations. We see/hear/feel what we expect to see/hear/feel.

  10. Communicating high (but plausible) expectations leads people experiencing those events to match the expectations.

  11. People often do not seek help in ambiguous situations because of fear of embarrassment.

  12. Do not be influenced by social pressure when it comes to helping people. If someone appears that they might need help, don't look to others. People are looking to you.

  13. How to trigger heuristic processing (when your argument is weak): Focus on aesthetics of the message and messenger Increase the complexity of the message. Improve the mood/make the person happy. Increase their heartbeat/arousal.

  14. Foot-in-the-Door Technique: When you have a large request, ask the person to do a smaller request first. Once the action becomes part of their identity, they are more inclined to perform the larger request.

  15. Processing Fluency: The ease at which you can recall an example provides a cue to your brain. For example: People who were asked to provide 12 examples of when they were assertive found the task more difficult compared to people who were asked for 6 examples. As a result, the group who were asked to provide fewer examples viewed themselves as significantly more assertive.

  16. Curiosity becomes aroused when you are stopped from doing something.


Let me know how these summaries can be improved? Contact me via Email (david@thisdomain.co) or on Twitter.



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