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PSYCHOLOGY


The Science of Influence LANCE TYSON


As the most successful salespeople know, motivat- ing people to act is at the core of selling. Those who have embraced this premise have become masters of influence. They understand the con- cept of social proof, which Robert Cialdini wrote about in his 1984 bestseller Influence. Never heard of social proof? It is one of the areas of study that sociologists and psychologists continue to tout as a cornerstone of the science of influence.


Whether we realize it or not, we’ve all been affected by the science of influence – especially in the sales


field. Have you ever decided to go out to breakfast and you look to see how many cars are in the parking lot?


20 | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2021 SELLING POWER © 2021 SELLING POWER. CALL 1-800-752-7355 FOR REPRINT PERMISSION.


Maybe one restaurant only has a car or two, while the other restaurant is packed. Which one do you gravitate toward? The one where all the people have gathered. It’s human nature to follow a crowd, to eat at a popular restaurant, to see the popular movie, to check out why so many people go to certain stores. In fact, social proof is so powerful


that you will likely deny logic to be one of the crowd. One fascinating example is the Solomon Asch confor- mity experiment from 1951. Asch was a respected psychologist who wanted to test the limits of social proof – to show that people are willing to reject their own perception so they can fit in. So Asch recruited a group of col- lege students to participate in the experiment – what he called a line judgment task. Each group was shown images like the ones below:


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