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An accessible, well-researched inquiry into how minds get changed.

A social psychologist considers why and how we make decisions.

In his previous book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (1984), Cialdini (Emeritus, Psychology and Marketing/Arizona State Univ.) aimed to help consumers “resist influence attempts employed in an undue or unwelcome way.” A bestseller, that book led to requests from people “ravenously interested in learning how to harness persuasion” in business or their personal lives, which inspired this illuminating, easy-to-digest follow-up. Although aimed at persuaders, the book also gives insight to consumers about the forces that shape decision-making. Drawing on studies in psychology, business, and the social sciences, which comprise the majority of his 90-page bibliography, Cialdini makes two central arguments: persuaders must trigger in their audience associations favorable to change, and “the factor most likely to determine a person’s choice in a situation is not the one that counsels most wisely” but rather “one that has been elevated in attention…at the time of the decision.” The book is filled with anecdotes and punctuated by cartoons (“Doonesbury” and “Dilbert” make appearances), advertisements, and, occasionally, graphs. Although some findings seem common-sensical—to get consumers to buy French wine, play French background music before they decide—others surprised even the author. If we want people “to feel warmly toward us, we can hand them a hot drink,” for example; and because the concept of weight “is linked metaphorically to the concept of seriousness,” manufacturers making e-readers as light as possible may “lessen the seeming value of the presented material” and “the perceived intellectual depth of its author.” Late in the book, Cialdini confronts the ethics of his entire enterprise: is he, in fact, “doing more harm than good” by imparting means of tricking consumers? Unethical business practices eventually undermine an organization by creating a corrosive “culture of dishonesty," he asserts; but he concedes that his “argument against duplicity” may not convince profit-hungry business leaders.

An accessible, well-researched inquiry into how minds get changed.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-0979-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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