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Tapping our powers of persuasion. Most psychologists will read this “Questionnaire” with Robert Cialdini, PhD.

Tapping our powers of persuasion

That may or may not be true, but according to Cialdini, that statement is powerfully persuasive because we tend to go along with our peers. Cialdini, who retired last year from a teaching and research position at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz., is a renowned expert in the science of swaying. In his seminal book on the topic, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” (Quill, 1984), he went undercover to learn the tricks mastered by used-car dealers and Fortune 500 executives alike, bringing persuasion research to psychology’s forefront.

Cialdini distilled his findings into six “weapons of influence,” each grounded in how we perceive ourselves or others: Dunning–Kruger effect. The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate.

Dunning–Kruger effect

This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude.[1] Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University conclude, "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others".[2] The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science. Illustration: Jonathon Rosen "A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change.

The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science

Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point. " So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger (PDF), in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes. You Are Not So Smart.