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20161231 Pre-Suasion




The main idea of this book is to extend scientific information provided in previous book “Influence”, by adding the new dimension to the process of persuasion: timing. This new dimension changes process of influence from static to dynamic, looking at it from point of view of time dependent conditions both surrounding individuals and established internally in his/her mind. These include creation of “privileged moments” when individuals is highly susceptible to persuasion, taking control over individual’s narrow beam of attention, invoking associations supportive for ideas of persuasion, using human tendency to seek confirmation from others, and acting in sync with representative group to smooth down path to persuasion.



  1. PRE-SUASION: An Introduction

The chapter starts with author’s reminiscence of attending multiple sales seminars to learn technics used by successful salespeople to convince people to buy their staff. The main take out from this experience was author’s understanding that these skills are quite effective and learnable. As example author provided the narrative about successful use of persuasion upon himself when he was convinced to teach MBA class even if it impeded with his previous plans. As it is typical for a good teacher, author provided a nice synopsis of this book.

  1. Privileged Moments

This chapter explicates the concept of privileged moments, identifiable points in time when an individual is particularly receptive to a communicator’s message. The chapter also presents and supports a fundamental thesis: the factor most likely to determine a person’s choice in a situation is often not the one that offers the most accurate or useful counsel; instead, it is the one that has been elevated in attention (and thereby in privilege) at the moment of decision.

  1. The Importance of Attention… Is Importance

This chapter explores and documents one central reason that channeled attention leads to pre-suasion: the human tendency to assign undue levels of importance to an idea as soon as one’s attention is turned to it. The chapter looks at the effects of channeled attention in three different arenas: effective online marketing efforts, positive consumer product reviews, and successful wartime propaganda campaigns.

  1. What’s Focal Is Causal

This chapter adds a second reason for why channeled attention leads to pre-suasion. In the same way that attentional focus leads to perceptions of importance, it also leads to perceptions of causality. If people see themselves giving special attention to some factor, they become more likely to think of it as a cause. The influence-related upshots of the “what’s focal is presumed causal” effect are examined in domains such as lottery number choices and false confessions in police interrogations.

  1. Commanders of Attention 1: The Attractors

If elevated attention provides pre-suasive leverage, are there any features of information that automatically invite such attention and therefore don’t even require a communicator’s special efforts? This chapter examines several of these naturally occurring commanders of attention: the sexual, the threatening, and the different.

  1. Commanders of Attention 2: The Magnetizers

Besides the advantages of drawing attention to a particular stimulus, there is considerable benefit to holding it there. The communicator who can fasten an audience’s focus onto the favorable elements of an argument raises the chance that the argument will go unchallenged by opposing points of view, which get locked out of the attentional environment as a consequence. This chapter covers certain kinds of information that combine initial pulling power with staying power: the self-relevant, the unfinished, and the mysterious.



  1. The Primacy of Associations: I Link, Therefore I Think

Once attention has been channeled to a selected concept, what is it about the concept that leads to a shift in responding? All mental activity is composed of patterns of associations; and influence attempts, including pre-suasive ones, will be successful only to the extent that the associations they trigger are favorable to change. This chapter shows how both language and imagery can be used to produce desirable outcomes such as greater job performance, more positive personnel evaluations, and, in one especially noteworthy instance, the release of prisoners kidnapped by the Afghan Taliban.

  1. Persuasive Geographies: All the Right Places, All the Right Traces

There is geography of influence. Just as words and images can prompt certain associations favorable to change, so can places. Thus, it becomes possible to send us in desired directions by locating to physical and psychological environments prefit with cues associated with our relevant goals. It’s also possible for influencers to achieve their goals by shifting others to environments with supportive cues. For instance, young women do better on science, math, and leadership tasks if assigned to rooms with cues (photos, for example) of women known to have mastered the tasks.

  1. The Mechanics of Pre-Suasion: Causes, Constraints, and Corrective

A communicator pre-suades by focusing recipients initially on concepts that are aligned associatively with the information yet to be delivered, but by what mechanism? The answer involves an underappreciated characteristic of mental activity: its elements don’t just fire when ready they fire when readied. This chapter examines this mechanism’s operation in such varied phenomena as how advertising imagery works, how infants can be pre-suaded toward helpfulness, and how opiate drug addicts can be pre-suaded into performing an important therapeutic activity that none would consent to otherwise.


Part 3


  1. Six Main Roads to Change: Broad Boulevards as Smart Shortcuts

On which specific concepts should an audience’s attention be focused for the greatest pre-suasive effect? Attention should be channeled to one or another of the universal principles of influence treated in my earlier book, Influence: reciprocity, liking, authority, social proof, scarcity, and consistency. There is good reason for their prevalence and success, for these are the principles that typically steer people in the fight direction when they are deciding what to do.

  1. Unity 1: Being Together

This chapter reveals an additional (seventh) universal principle of influence: unity. There is a certain type of unity-of identity-that best characterizes a “We” relationship and that, if pre-suasively raised to consciousness, leads to more acceptance, cooperation, liking, help, trust, and, consequently, assent. The chapter describes the first of two main ways to build “We” relationships: by presenting cues of genetic commonality associated with family and place.

  1. Unity 2: Acting Together

Besides the unitizing effect of being together in the same genealogy or geography, “We” relationships can result from acting together synchronously or collaboratively. When people act in unitary ways, they become unitized; and when such activity is arranged pre-suasively, it produces mutual liking and support. This chapter provides illustrations in the forms of greater helping among strangers, cooperation among teammates, self-sacrifice among four-year-olds, friendship among schoolchildren, love among college students, and loyalty between consumers and brands.

  1. Ethical Use: A Pre-Pre-Suasive Consideration

Those using a pre-suasive approach must decide what to present immediately before their message. But they also have to make an even earlier decision: whether, on ethical grounds, to employ such an approach. Often, communicators from commercial organizations place profit above ethics in their appeals. Thus, there is reason to worry that the pre-suasive practices described in this book will be used unethically. However, this chapter argues against unethical use, offering data from studies indicating that such tactics undermine organizational profits in three potent ways.

  1. Post-Suasion: Aftereffects

Pre-suaders want to do more than create temporary changes via momentary shifts in attention; they want to make those changes durable. Accordingly, this chapter provides the behavioral science evidence for two kinds of procedures that increase the likelihood that changes generated initially will take root and last well beyond pre-suasive moments.


It’s a very good, very professional, and well supported by data analysis of the art of persuasion. The one general problem with it is that human beings are learning creatures and the very fact of discovering and formalizing tools of persuasion makes them less and less effective when more and more people learn about them and develop countermeasures. So for the practitioner of art of persuasion it is a good methodological toolset until its specific tools become common knowledge. On the defensive side of persuasion game it is not less valuable providing access to this knowledge while its methods are still very potent. It is somewhat similar to eternal straggle between viruses and antibodies with scientific psychological research being kind of vaccination against being manipulated by other people. On these terms this book is a great set of multifarious vaccine protecting against a number of widely circulating viruses.




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