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Friday, March 6, 2009

Persuasion: Authority

This is the 5th in a series of 6 posts from a book review of Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive.

Authority: Everyone has experienced the effect of authority on influence. From bosses asking us to stay late to the advice given to us by our lawyers—authority helps us make up our minds quickly. In one experiment, the researchers (Pfeffer, Fong, Cialdini, and Portnoy) asked participants to play the role of senior editor for a book publisher dealing with an experienced author. Those acting as senior editors were asked to consider a sizable book advance for the author. The editors were divided into two groups: One group read positive comments about the author, which were made by the author himself. The second group read the identical comments made by the author’s agent. The result: The editors rated the author’s comments more favorably on every element of comparison, especially likability, when those comments were made by a third party (the agent), rather than by the author himself. Bob Cialdini and his colleagues have written a great book—I suggest reading it!

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