Tapping our powers of persuasion. Most psychologists will read this “Questionnaire” with Robert Cialdini, PhD.
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 relatively unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than it really is.
Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their own ineptitude and evaluate their own ability accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: highly skilled individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others. Dunning and Kruger have postulated that the effect is the result of internal illusion in the unskilled, and external misperception in the skilled: "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. The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science. Illustration: Jonathon Rosen "A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change.
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.