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Need a holiday read?

Laws of Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini


Much of the thinking in this book can be connected to real life experiences and is useful in understanding why people behave the way they do. This thinking can of course be applied to our work in community engagement.

We recommend you read the entire book, however two key takeaways from this book that we use in our work every day at Conversation Caravan are detailed below.

Commitment and Consistency
• This works by using people’s desire to act and be consistent with what they believe about themselves and what they have done, written or said (both privately and publicly).
• Small commitments can be used to influence the person’s image of themselves which can then allow for bigger requests that are consistent with the new self-image.
• The more public the decision, the more we are reluctant to not follow through.
• The more effort that goes into a commitment, the greater its influence is on the person making that commitment. It is also valued more highly then when obtained with minimum effort.

Application in community engagement: Useful in projects requiring a behaviour change.
Conversation Caravan used it recently with the Alfred Research Alliance – publicly asking participants to commit to a task to foster collaboration.

Social Proof
• One of the ways we use to determine what is correct or appropriate is by observing what others are doing. The more people are doing it, the more it must be right. – If others are doing it, so must I.
• Observing many people do something (whether live or in media) can actually be used to alleviate fears, motivate people into action, etc. – If others can do it, so can I.
• Social proofing works best when we are observing people who are like us (similar to liking) – If my friends do it, so should I.

Application in community engagement: Useful in encouraging participation at the start of a consultation program.
We used this with the City of Melbourne, where we took short videos (Vox Pops) showing public responses to our questions. Seeing others who are similar to us participate and have a say, is as good as a personal invite.

Pop down to your local library and pick up a hard copy, purchase it from your favourite retailer or surprisingly, you can read it online here via the Baku State University Library.

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