After discussing 3 factors of influence in the previous article from the book Influence, The Psychology Of Persuasion written by Robert B. Cialdini, the remaining 3 principles of influence are Principle of Liking, Authority and Scarcity are discussed in this article. If you haven’t read previous article, click here

Principle of Liking

Joe Girard, in his lifetime sold 13,000 Chevrolet cars and is recognized as the “greatest car salesman” by the Guinness Book of Worlds Records. He firmly believed that apart from best product, price and customer service factors, the secret of selling is that the buyer must ‘like’ the salesman. To increase ‘liking’ factor and maintain trust, he regularly sent hand written greeting cards to all his prospects, customers and employees on their birthdays, anniversaries and on festivals wishing everything from New Year to Christmas.

But how can a salesman or any professional increase his/her ‘liking’ factor? The answer is by physical attractiveness, imitating similarity, giving compliments, by contact and association.

Physical attractiveness creates ‘liking’ by virtue of Halo Effect. A Halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of a person dominates other characteristics of the person and the way that person is perceived by others. Researchers demonstrate that we automatically assign a good looking person as more intelligent, honest, smart and talented and they are more persuasive. That’s why more physically attractive salesperson are hired by organisations and are told to be well groomed and well-dressed so that halo of physical attractive can be exploited.

The second factor for increasing ‘liking’ is by subtly imitating similarity of prospect customer’s area of interest, background, personality traits or life style. Researchers demonstrate that we like people who are similar to us and share the common behavior and interests, so a shrewd salesperson can easily create a veneer of similarity by copying his customer’s behavior. The third factor in increasing ‘liking’ is by giving compliments. And who does not like receiving compliments? Admit it, we all love to hear compliments. It is the expression of praise and sincere form of flattery and even when we know that sometimes the compliments received are exaggerated, we tend to believe it.

The other factors which can increase the ‘liking’ factor is by using techniques of finding contacts and increasing association with positive things. We like and believe in things which are familiar to us and the more contacts the salesman and the customer share in common, it increases confidence and co-operation between customer and salesperson. In case of products, linking the product with positive association like glamour, value, prestige,credibility, esteem etc., enhances confidence and increases ‘liking’. Celebrity association is the most common form of association where advertisers try to bask in the glory of celebrity stardom and brand value. These may not be exhaustive factors to increase ‘liking’ but are proven ways backed up by research which can exert pressure unconsciously and produce superficial ‘liking’.

Principle of Authority

A professional will flaunt all the degrees on his business card, a doctor exhibits all the medical degrees and medals on his office wall, a business establishment recounts years of experience in sector etc. to show their superiority and supremacy in their respective area of expertise. The principle of Authority is based on our faith and reverence to knowledge of the professional and obedience to the wisdom of the experts.

The sense of Authority can be produced by titles, clothes or any sort of trappings which creates a high authority status by which people tend to comply with the authority. Titles like doctor, judges, lawyer, engineer etc., combined with years of experience titles like Ph.D, CEO, Director, Partner etc. are symbols of person’s intelligence, knowledge and wisdom which creates a legitimate degree of authority and people are willing to believe and comply with instructions of such authority figures.

Clothes like white uniform of doctor, brown uniform of police or well-tailored suit of CEO, is attire and symbol of authority status in our culture and has powerful impact of how people perceive the individual. Such attires can produce automatic and mindless compliance from the subjects. Apart from titles and clothes, trappings like expensive clothes, cars, jewelry etc. carry an aura of status and position which can distort the decision making of the people and people tend to assign high deference and authority to such trappings, sometimes even without any reasonable justification.

Principle of Scarcity

Have you impulsively purchased any product which is scarce, available in limited number and by the fear that it will run out of stock? Do you also feel excited for flash sales, limited offer countdown, limited edition schemes? Are you more interested to watch or read things what has been censored or banned?

We have a deep rooted behavioral instinct which makes us feel that scarce goods are more valuable than the things available in abundant, even if such scarcity is mostly imaginary. Such liking to ‘scarce’ things, emerges from our aversion to loss and ‘social proof’ principle which we discussed in earlier article. We, are loss averse creatures, which means we are more likely to put all efforts to avoid losing something than to put efforts to gain something of equivalent value. ‘Scarce’ things also works on social proof principle, as we feel that if things are scarce, other people must be willing to buy it and supply is limited.

It is also proven that when our freedom to have something is limited, we experience an increased desire to access it. Our reaction to censored information is such that we feel greater desire to access that information and even we develop a more favorable attitude toward it than what we earlier had when the information was not even banned.


Our primitive way of making choice and the blitz of modern life requires us to act on some shortcuts to make decisions and we cannot devote much time and energy every time to analyze the situation and take rational actions. Exploiting such mind weaknesses by these 6 principles, any person who wants to influence and persuade us, can trick us by employing these principles. It all depends on understanding of these principles, how we defend ourselves from erroneous choices or persuade others by using these principles.

Before saying Adieu

The question of morality and ethical use of such principles is not in scope of this article, but one thing is sure that by remembering and applying these principles, you will bring profound changes in your behavior and it will act as driving force for your success.

Stay tuned for next book review, till then stay home, safe and curious.

Happy Reading!

Amit Malani

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