“There are only a few pieces left …” “Don’t miss this rare opportunity …” “Here’s what you’ll miss out on if you don’t call within the next 15 minutes …”
If you’ve ever watched a shopping channel or late-night TV infomercials, you know the tactic of exploiting scarcity, and it’s a tried and true approach. According to Cialdini, ”The feeling of being in competition for scarce resources has powerfully motivating properties … [and] the joy is not in experiencing a scarce commodity but in possessing it.”
The principle here is creating the impression that we are losing something: “The idea of potential loss plays a large role in human decision making. In fact, people seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.”
To exert influence using this technique, emphasize what someone will be missing by not buying your product or hearing you out. It has been demonstrated to be a stronger strategy than emphasizing the benefits alone. To protect yourself from this principle, sense if you’re feeling rushed into making a decision about something and take a step back to assess whether your newfound position is really in line with what you want.
Not all of these techniques will be effective at all times; they are context-dependent and require careful consideration and planning within your specific setting, but being armed with the knowledge of the principles needed to exert influence can not only help you become more influential but recognize when you are being influenced as well.
Cialdini, R. B. (1987). Influence:The psychology of persuasion (Vol. 3). Port Harcourt: A. Michel.
Written By Mariana Bockarova Originally Appeared In Psychology Today