Lessons from Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive

By | October 14, 2008

This is a book about social psychology applied to marketing, sales and general persuasion. It is an interesting read of what is essentially hundred of social studies and test complied into a laymen format with applicable real life examples.

I have complied my summary after reading the book. Do note that this is not in the order for the 50 chapters in the book. I have even grouped them under headings not found in the book for my own use.

How to encourage a response

1)The herding instinct

  • By saying many people are doing it
  • By referencing people similar to the target audience
  • Increasing social approval of an action
  • Seeing a mirror or a set of eyes encourages self reflection and a stronger sense of sticking with the social norm

2) Reducing the options

  • When customers are not clear about requirements
  • People choose the middle product as a compromise
  • Present at least 2 products
  • Present the more expensive one first

3) Fear

  • The more clearly people see behavioral means for ridding themselves of fear, the less they will need to resort to denial

4) Providing a memory aid at the decision making stage which you message is trying to affect

The reciprocity Principle
1) An ounce of personalize extra effort is worth a pound of persuasion
2) Three Major factors make a gift or favor more persuasive and more likely to be reciprocated

  • Significance
  • Unexpected
  • Personalized

3) Initiate the reciprocity without expecting anything back
4) Favors change in value over time

  • Recipients placed a lower value
  • Doers place a higher value

How to get commitment
1) Get a small commitment before asking for successively bigger ones
2) Asking “Even a bit will help” increases the possibility of an action
3) People perform to expectations when labeled
4) Asking a simple question of volunteering
5) To increase the possibility of following through – Commitment should be voluntary, active and publicly declared to others
6) Active commitments- Written are more likely to be fulfilled

How to change people’s mind

  1. when presenting ideas that might be inconsistent with previous behavior,
  2. free them of their previous behavior by saying it was the correct decision at that time given the evidence and information
  3. Use the word “Because”
  4. Adding this in your conversation with a good following reasons increases willingness of the other person to help you
  5. Get the other party to say because to you because it reinforces their beliefs about you

How to get a positive perception

  1. asking someone who does not like you for a favor might help change their perception of you for the better
  2. See the virtue of others instead of their flaws
  3. get someone/something to introduce you and blow your trumpet
  4. promoting your weakness puts you in a better position of trust to sell your strength
  5. Promoting a weakness and then a related strength enhances the preference of your product
  6. Taking responsibility for your mistakes shows that you control over future events and the fix ready


  1. Bring up similarities between you and the other person to increase the chances of that person agreeing to a request
  2. People like names that are similar sounding to their own
  3. Parroting a person’s word will make them feel more at ease and confident that you have understood them
  4. Names should be pronounceable and easy to remember
  5. Product Slogans that rhyme
  6. Asking for too many reasons of why a product is good might induce a negative perception because of the difficulty of coming up with the number of require reasons

Scarcity principle

  1. The more scarce, the more people are likely to horde it
  2. People – who knows or have it
  3. Things – Limited quantities

Perceptual Contrast

  1. The amount of information that a preceding message has affects the positive influence on the next message. The less information, the more influence the second message is.
  2. People will be more likely to complete task and programs if there is an indication that there is already some progress towards completion instead of no progress.
  3. in a competitive market, a lower starting price is better as it generates more attention and buy in from early bidders

Loss aversion principle

  1. Instead of pointing out what they stand to gain if they do A, point out what they stand to lose if they don’t do A


  1. Unexpected Descriptive, Ambiguous names create a sense of fascination and attraction with it compared with common and common descriptive names

Interpersonal Dynamics

  1. Team > one person’s thinking. Encourage input but make your own decisions
  2. a true devil advocate will increase confidence in the final position
  3. It is easier to reach an agreement with someone when there is background information on each other


  1. learning from examples of past mistakes is more effective than just learning good practices
  2. Cultural differences affect the strength of messages
  3. Bundling will devalue the bundle product
  4. Instead of using the word free, state the value of the product
  5. “Receive $250 security program at no cost to you”


  1. Emotional affect decision making.
  2. Avoid decision making when you are feeling down
  3. Take time out before making a decision
  4. Being distracted or tired makes you more susceptible to untrue persuasion
  5. Caffeine consumptions make you more easily persuaded with good arguments. Bad arguments have no effect.
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