Six ways to make them say yes.

Rather than a listing of a new security threat, I wanted to give an in depth talk and social engineering and how to get your target to say yes. Based on Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, this article has listed six solid techniques.

The first principle is reciprocity. This is the idea of I scratch your back, you scratch mine. To use this principle, you must initiate giving something to someone in order to get something in return. By doing this you gain a psychological power over them by them ‘owing you one.’ An example would be on a job interview, you prove to them that you are a value to the company. The reciprocation is that they will give you a job. The downside to this is that it’s dependent on the target’s personality, if they expect you to do something for them or are selfish and accept your offer with no intention of reciprocation, this principle will not work. The key is finding what they want and giving it to them.

The second principle is scarcity. This idea is that if you make a resource appear scarce, it gives it more value making them want it. An example would be saying that you’re selling something and there are only 5 items left and you won’t be restocking them. You may have only started with 5 items but they are unaware of that and they may jump on the track and get it so they don’t miss out. This principle can be used in tandem with reciprocity in order to give value to what you’re offering. One downside would be if you make something out to be more scarce than it is and they call your bluff, it could backfire right in your face. But I mean De Beers has been doing this with diamonds for years.

The next principle is authority. Authority is the idea that people will trust you if they think you are in a position of authority. This was proven in the Milgram experiments where good people would be told to effectively kill people and they would do it. Authority can come from tonality, appearance, any non-verbal communication really.

Consistency is the next principle. This one is a little abstract but the gist is that if you say that you’ll do something and then do it, you’re extremely likely to do it again with more conviction.

The fifth principle is consensus. Basically, if you view that many other people like something, then you will like it too, even if you weren’t going to like it initially. This is why you see 4/5 doctor’s recommend this toothpaste. Even though you don’t know the doctor’s at all, you are more likely to buy that toothpaste because a consensus of people like it. This also moves into people constantly looking for approval. The weakness to this is if the target thinks about the decision long enough, or likes to go against the grain, consensus principle will be ineffective.

The sixth and final principle is liking. We like people who are similar to us, people who pay us compliments, and people with similar goals as us. That’s it, try to make the person view that your goals are inevitably the same as theirs.

Follow the six principles, reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, consensus, and liking the next time you’re trying to get someone to say yes to you. If you’re interested in social engineering I would highly recommend checking out Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.

– Bryon Wilkins


Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini