This is part of a series of information/stories delivered from the INCREDIBLE book,  “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini.     If you work or live a life where you have to get people to do thing, Influence studies and explains the 6 most powerful forces to persuade people.  No other book has been recommended to me more, by people smarter than both of us.

In short, they are:

1) Reciprocation

2) Social proof

3) Commitment & Consistency

4) Liking: People prefer to say ” yes” to those they know

5) Authority

6) Scarcity

And they will be a game changer for you and your business.

Today we elaborate on Scarcity and wrap up.


Very often in making a decision about someone or something, we don’t use all the relevant available information; we use, instead, only a single, highly representative piece of the total. And an isolated piece of information, even though it normally counsels us correctly, can lead us to clearly stupid mistakes—mistakes that, when exploited by clever others, leave us looking silly or worse.

We are unchallenged in the ability to take into account a multitude of relevant facts and, consequently, to make good decisions. Indeed, it is this information- processing advantage over other species that has helped make us the dominant form of life on the planet. Still, we have our capacity limitations, too; and, for the sake of efficiency, we must sometimes retreat from the time-consuming, sophisticated, fully informed brand of decision making to a more automatic, primitive, single-feature type of responding.

We have been exploring several of the most popular of the single pieces of information that we use to prompt our compliance decisions. They are the most popular prompts precisely because they are the most reliable ones, those that normally point us toward the correct choice. That is why we employ the factors of reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity so often and so automatically in making our compliance decisions. Each, by itself, provides a highly reliable cue as to when we will be better off saying yes than no.

We are likely to use these lone cues when we don’t have the inclination, time, energy, or cognitive resources to undertake a complete analysis of the situation. Where we are rushed, stressed, uncertain, indifferent, distracted, or fatigued, we tend to focus on less of the information available to us. When making decisions under these  circumstances, we often revert to the rather primitive but necessary single-piece-of-good-evidence approach.

When those single features are truly reliable, there is nothing inherently wrong with the shortcut approach of narrowed attention and automatic response to a particular piece of information. The problem comes when something causes the normally trustworthy cues to counsel us poorly, to lead us to erroneous actions and wrongheaded decisions. As we have seen, one such cause is the trickery of certain compliance practitioners who seek to profit from the rather mindless and mechanical nature of shortcut response. If, as seems true, the frequency of shortcut response is increasing with the pace and form of modern life, we can be sure that the frequency of this trickery is destined to increase as well.

What can we do about the expected intensified attack on our system of shortcuts? More than evasive action, I would urge forceful counter-assault. There is an important qualification, however. Compliance professionals who play fairly by the rules of shortcut response are not to be considered the enemy; on the contrary, they are our allies in an

efficient and adaptive process of exchange. The proper targets for counter-aggression are only those individuals who falsify, counterfeit, or misrepresent the evidence that naturally cues our shortcut responses.