A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade
by Robert Cialdini

Estimated Reading Time

Summary 50 minutes
Full Book 5:00 hours
You Save 4:10 hours

Pre-Suasion, by Robert Cialdini, describes how the best influencers use a combination of psychological tactics to stack the deck in their favor before making a request. These tactics, which include attention manipulation and priming, make their targets pre-disposed to compliance. In other words, the best influencers use pre-suasion before persuasion.

Pre-Suasion also reviews the “6 weapons of influence” and presents a 7th weapon of persuasion: unity.

In this summary:

Part I: Pre-Suasion: The Frontloading of Attention explains the importance of attention and focus in pre-suasion.

  • Chapter 1: Pre-Suasion: An Introduction.
  • Chapter 2: Privileged Moments. How to create a privileged moment using confirmation bias (also known as positive test strategy), single-chute questions, and consistency.
  • Chapter 3: The Importance of Attention… Is Importance. The focusing illusion; use of favorable evaluation in isolation.
  • Chapter 4: What’s Focal Is Causal. Focus and causality; the romance of leadership.
  • Chapter 5: Commanders of Attention 1: The Attractors. 3 ways to get attention (sex, threats, things that are different); the orienting response; distinctiveness; message alignment.
  • Chapter 6: Commanders of Attention 2: The Magnetizers. 3 ways to hold attention: self (personalization, self-relevant cues), the unfinished (the Zeigarnik effect), the mysterious (6 steps in presenting a mystery).

Part II: Processes: The Role of Association discusses priming, or using positive mental associations to create favorable biases.

  • Chapter 7: The Primacy of Associations: I Link, Therefore I Think. Priming; word association; cognitive ease; metaphors.
  • Chapter 8: Persuasive Geographies: All the Right Places, All the Right Traces. Priming with environmental cues; background priming; priming for internal beliefs.
  • Chapter 9: The Mechanics of Pre-Suasion: Causes, Constraints, and Correctives. The mechanics of priming (automatic mental processes, closely related ideas, manufactured positive associations); counteracting priming effects using awareness; times of susceptibility.

Part III: Best Practices: The Optimization of Pre-Suasion recaps the 6 weapons of persuasion; describes unity as the 7th weapon of influence; and discusses the ethics of manipulation.

  • Chapter 10: Six Main Roads to Change: Broad Boulevards as Smart Shortcuts. The 6 weapons of influence (reciprocation, liking, social proof, authority, scarcity, consistency); 3 core motives of influence (cultivate a positive association, reduce uncertainty, motivate action).
  • Chapter 11: Unity 1: Being Together. Kinship; in-group members; home; shared geographic region.
  • Chapter 12: Unity 2: Acting Together. Synchronization; continual and reciprocal exchange; co-creation; advice.
  • Chapter 13: Ethical Use: A Pre-Pre-Suasive Consideration. The 3 costs of unethical cultures (poor performance, turnover, malfeasance).
  • Chapter 14: Post-Suasion: Aftereffects. 4 tactics to create follow-through (prompt an action, get verbal or written commitments, implementation intentions or if/when-then plans, persistent cues); elastic preferences and beliefs.