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19 Ridiculously Simple Lessons in Persuasion

Lesson 2 - Authority

The first letter A of the ASSCURL acronym is Authority.

We trust authority figures. It's a shortcut. If a doctor says to drop your draws, you comply. If a policeman says "Show me your license." you comply. Being an authority gets you trusted. If you're a doctor you'll be trusted more than someone who isn't.

Milgram Experiment

The Milgram Experiment was the first to test the Authority effect of persuasion. When an authority figure asks for compliance, people will comply even if the behavior is wrong. In the Milgram Experiment. they asked volunteers to apply a shock to a student when the student got the wrong answer to a question. They also increased the power of the shock for each wrong answer. It turns out that the people receiving the shock were actors. The people applying the shocks were encouraged to continue applying the shocks by an authority figure.

This 11-minute video demonstrating the Milgram Experiment1 is worth watching.

Here are some calls to Authority
  • An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People
  • Wearing a lab coat
  • Police
  • Teacher
  • Boss
  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Lawyer
  • Car Mechanic
  • Repairman
  • Years of practice
  • Professional ....
  • Worked for a Major Company
  • Public speaker
  • Famous person
  • Parent
  • Salespeople
  • Credentials, ex. Dr. Phd. MSW...
  • Quote from NY Times, Wall Street Journal
  • Being skilled at something makes you an authority at it
  • Working in a field for 40 years

    Pilot Co-pilot experiments

    Another demonstration of the Authority effect is the Pilot-Copilot experiment. In this experiment, they test in a flight simulator how well the co-pilot can overcome Authority. It turns out that 25% of the time, where the pilot who is in on the experiment, can get the co-pilot to crash the plane.

    Counters to Authority

    It is a good idea to be prepared in case an authority figure tries to get you to do something you don't want to do.

  • I can't do this anymore
  • I won't do this anymore
  • I have a rule...
  • I'd like to get a second opinion
  • I have a rule to wait 1 day before making big purchases

    1. http://bit.ly/Milgram-Exp

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