Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven… Summary & Review

Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive book cover

Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive” introduces 50 ways that you can persuade and influence others, based on research and studies. 

Yes! Summary

About the Author:
Noah Goldstein is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He earned a Ph.D. in psychology under Robert Cialdini at Arizona State University.

1. Give the Impression of High Demand

What can cause your sales to skyrocket?
Sometimes, it can be simply changing three simple words.

Going from: 

Call now. Operators are waiting


If operators are busy, please try again.

The first sentence gave the feeling that operators were waiting around fiddling their thumbs.
The second one gave the impression of a hot product that people wanted to buy.

2. Align Desired Behavior to Similarities

When you want to influence behavior, you should show how similar people act like you want them to act.

3. Show Positive Behavior, Not Negative One

Never show how people behave badly. 
That doesn’t lead people to want to be good and unique, but it leads them to think that many behave badly and, hence, so can they.

In short: don’t point fingers at people behaving badly, but draw attention to the many who are behaving well.

4. Provide Fewer Choices

Too many options can easily lead to decision paralysis, which in turn leads to no sales (also read: The Paradox of Choice).
The exceptions are customers who already know what they want and those who enjoy the “picking experience”.

5. State the Value of Free Products

If you are giving something for free or as an add-on bonus, you should always state its value.
If you don’t, people will feel like it’s worthless.

6. Place an Expensive Option for Contrast

Placing an expensive product in your product line will help increase the sales of your less expensive ones.

Try to place the product you want to sell the most as the “middle ground” option.

7. Fear ONLY Works With CTA

Fear only sells if people can do something about it and if there is a clear call to action to take.

Otherwise, people will block the negative message.

8. Make Them Feel Your Gift Is “Just For Them”

Waiters giving 1 or more mints at the end of customers’ lunches see little difference in tips.

But if the waiter gives one mint and then turns around and adds one more, tips increase by 23%.
It’s because it feels more special and “just for them”.

9. Used “I”ve Already Done This” Reciprocation

If you say:

I have already done this. Can you also do this?

You get much better results (45%) than if you said this:

If you do this, I will match it and do it too

10. Favors Increase for Giver, Diminish for Receiver

Over time the weight of favors increases in the giver’s mind and decreases in the receiver’s mind.

If you want something in exchange for a favor then, it’s best to ask for it right away.
Cialdini also takes a leaf out of his previous book Influence and says that it’s best to preface your favor by saying:

I know you will do the same in the future

If you need to ask for a favor back far away in the future you can -tactfully please!- help them relive the moment.
For example, you can ask them:

Remember when you had that issue and I helped you out of it? It was quite helpful for your back then, right? 

My Note: 
I need to stress “tactfully” again. Do this wrong and people will resent you for making them feel indebted and trying to manipulate them.

11. Get a Small Commitment First

People are much more likely to comply with your request if they have agreed to a smaller previous request.

There are plenty of examples, including the famous “drive carefully billboard”.

Here is another one for you.
A restaurant decreased their no-show reservations from 30% to 10% by changing “please call if you have to cancel” to:

Will you please call if you have to cancel?

When people answered “yes”, that represented a micro-commitment. 
Commitments work best if they are:

  • Voluntary (you didn’t push them)
  • Active (ie.: they say it and confirm it)
  • Public (there are witnesses)
  • In Writing

For example, you get more commitment if you make people fill their own forms as that makes them active participants and feels like a written confirmation.

12. Label People With The Behavior You Want

If you label people with a trait that you want them to show, they are more likely to live up to that trait.

This is something that Dale Carnegie also says in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

13. Make People Feel They’re Being Consistent

If you want people to change their behavior, show them how the change is consistent with who they are, what they already believe, and what they already do.

Keep in mind not to make people feel like they did a mistake in the past! That would likely push them on the defensive instead.
But tell them that with the information they had back then it was a smart choice. This way, you help them save face and you help them move out of their old habits.

14. People Like You More If They Do You a Favor

People will like you more if they do a favor to you, as compared to if you do a favor to them.

15. Add “Anything Will Help” To Your Requests

Adding “even a penny will help” increased donations both in terms of average donation size and in terms of the percentage of people who donated.

Some other applications:

Can you just give me a little clarity


Just a brief chat would make a huge difference

16. Set Your Sales PriceLow

The lower you start, the more people you get to start bidding. That will add competition fuel to the fire and increase social proof (ie.: “lots of people want the item, then it must be good”).

The exception is when the market is illiquid and there are a few people interested people.

17. Let Others Say Good Things About You

Credentials matter and are crucial. 
But don’t toot your own horn: have someone else say great things about you.

Also, don’t forget to hang credentials on the wall and put them in your signature.

18. Make People Feel You Heard ‘Em Before You Reject ‘Em

Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive” also gets into idea generation, saying that having many people contribute often leads to better results.

For better efficiency, there should be one final person to decide and if he must reject some contributions, he should make the rejected person know that his opinions and ideas were appreciated and considered.

19. Red Team Idea is Bad

Tim Ferris, an author of “The 4-Hour Work Week“, touts the idea of a “red team”, such as to designate a person or team with the sole scope of tearing ideas apart to show their weakness.

But Cialdini says that people usually don’t take the red team seriously because “it’s their job to find faults”. And after they are done with the exercise, they feel like they have “considered everything there was to consider”.

The best solution is a culture where dissension and criticism are welcome. Also read: Principles by Rai Dalio.

20. Teach (& Learn) The Correct Way

People learn by going through the correct way of doing things, not by looking at the wrong way of doing things.

21. Show Strategic Weakness to Gain Trust

People will trust you more when you show your credentials and your great work if you first showed weakness or vulnerability.

Of course, the flaw should be minor and non-essential (also read: Vulnerability is NOT Power).

22. Present Both Sides

This is similar to the above, but it’s so deep that it deserves its own entry.

When you have a positive and a negative, you get the best results by presenting them both and highlighting the positive. 

For example, this one, of course, ad terrible results:

Our restaurant has little space

This one had better results:

Our restaurant is very cozy

But this one has the best results of them all:

There’s little space, but that makes the atmosphere cozy

That means that saying something like:

Our product is more expensive, but it’s the most beautiful on the market

Works better than simply saying “our product is the most beautiful on the market”.

23. Take the Blame to Gain Trust

When you take the blame, even when you had little responsibility, people trust you more going forward because you show more control over your environment.

24. We Like What Feels Similar To Us

We like things and people who are similar to us. From the date of birth to the zodiac sign, to names that sound similar to ours.

Mirroring and repeating people’s use of words and expressions makes us feel more similar and increases trust and liking. 

25. Make Your Product / Information Feel Exclusive

People respond much better when they feel like the information you share is not public and/or is only known by you.

That makes people feel more exclusive and like they can get an edge over everyone else.

26. People Respond Better to Loss Than Gain

Make people feel like they already have something and they will lose it -rather than what they don’t have yet but might gain in the future-.

27. Use “Because” to Make People Feel You Have Good Reasons

People often answer to keywords rather than the full sentence.

When you use the word “because” you make people feel like you have good reasons for asking what you’re asking (the famous experiment of cutting the line to make copies).

28. The Easier You Think of Something, The Better It Feels

If you ask people to think of 10 great traits of a Ferrari and they struggle to think of 10, they will feel like Ferrari is not that great.

If you tell them to think of 3 traits and they come up with them very quickly, they will rate the Ferrari higher.

For the same reason, simple names are better and more compelling than complicated or long ones.
Stocks with simpler names and tickers outperformed the ones with more complicated names.

Sentences that rhyme are also more convincing.

29. Use Comparison to Make Your Product Seem Better

Perceptions are relative.
If you anchor a huge price and then come down to a price that is still above the market value, it will seem much fairer and smaller.

That works even for unrelated items.

A hot-tub salesman increased sales by 500% when he said that customers report having a hot tub is like having an extra room. He then asked prospects to imagine how much a new room would cost.
Then, by comparison, the hot tub would seem like a huge bargain.

30. Give a Head Start

The completion rate is much higher when people feel like they had a head start.

That’s why it’s a good idea to start loyalty programs by pre-filling the first couple of slots and making it seem like the customers are getting a free head start.

31. Give “Aha Moments”

People feel much better about a product if they can feel better about themselves.

Before we said you should choose simple names.
But if you can choose a complicated name and customers will later realize how that name applies, it will give them an “aha moment” that makes them feel good about themselves and, by reflection, about the product.

32. Mirrors Are Drivers for Morality

When people can see themselves, they tend to act more morally and steal less. 
Placing a mirror near a tiller would reduce customers’ theft. A pair of painted eyes also help as it unconsciously reminds people they might be watched.

33. Target Your Message to The Culture

The US and some Western countries respond better to individualistic messages such as “this product will make you great”, while more collectivist cultures respond better to messages such as “this product will make your family/friends happy”.

Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive book cover

Real-Life Applications

  • Don’t Make People Feel Wrong

What a huge concept to make us better influencers and higher-quality individuals: never make people feel like they made a mistake or they get defensive.
Instead, tell them that their decision, based on the information they had, was good and rational.

  • Don’t Negotiate When You’re Sad, Tired, or Distracted

When you are sad you are worse at gauging the magnitude of numbers.
And when you’re sleepy or distracted (such as when you’re multitasking), you’re more gullible and tend to believe more what you read and hear.

Thanks to Ali for this note.

  • Give Coffe When You Got Good Case

If you have a good case to make, you can give people coffee. That makes them more attentive to what you’ve got to say and your good reasoning will stand out.

  • Build Relationships Before Negotiations

Making friends and building good relationships before negotiations have been proven to make negotiations easier and smoother.


  • Manipulation doesn’t work?

The authors say that manipulation won’t work because people will learn and the knowledge will spread.
And your long-term results will suffer.

I wish that were true, but there are plenty of times and situations where manipulation works well.

  • No clustering of principles

50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive” is a wonderful list, but many of these 50 Proven Ways to Be Persuasive could have been clustered for ease of understanding (and ease of checking them later again).

Well, in this “Yes! Summary” I’ve done the clustering work for you :).


I gave it 5 stars because there is a myriad of great techniques.


Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive is a high-quality collection of persuasive and influencing techniques.

It’s all based on research -albeit it doesn’t discuss or delve deeper into the research- and provides plenty of examples of how that research can apply to your life and persuasion efforts.

Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive is one of the best books in its genre.
I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in psychology and persuasion.

Also, read:

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