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The Power of Persuasion: How We're Bought and Sold
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The Power of Persuasion: How We're Bought and Sold

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  271 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
"An engaging, highly readable survey of the sophisticated methods of persuasion we encounter in various situations. From television to telemarketing and from self-deception to suicide cults, Levine takes a hard look at all the ways we attempt to persuade each other--and how and why they work (or don't). . . . The next time you wonder what possessed you to pay $50 for a med ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Wiley (first published 2003)
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Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, my-firsttime, kindle
If I give this book an excellent review, your quite a bit more likely to read the book. Just the fact that I'm writing this review increases the chance that you will read this book over just finding it at the library or in the bookstore. What sold me on this book? The blurb on the jacket. This book brings to light the fact that we are bought and sold with practically everything in life and every decision. This book was really interesting to take a step back and look how we are affected by everyt ...more
Aaron Gertler
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Low four. Best as an introduction to the topic. Quotes all the studies that everyone quotes, with no special insight. More interesting are the sections where the author attends home sales parties, sells cars, or otherwise gets personal with his material. In that sense, you could see this as Influence, part II -- but you should definitely start with Influence, which is shorter and easier to read.
Vivian Sophia
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Ways of "convincing" people

People will buy from people who seem expert, honest, likable.
Seeming is the key word. An actor who plays a doctor, or someone who uses jargon. Decisive, swift talkers. Statistics.
They may pretend to understand what's going on by leading one on (like a psychic) and being vague
Trust (of honesty) may be gained by testimonials and endorsements. Also "education"
People who present "both sides" are seen as more trustworthy.
Bringing up a flaw before the opposition does
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I picked this book up due to a recommendation from a friend that had been told to read it by another friend. She hasn’t read it yet but it sounded interesting and I went into it knowing nothing beyond the title of the book.
Honestly, I almost put this book down right away, it’s interesting but a lot of the stuff talked about in the beginning of the book is stuff I’ve learned prior to reading it.  I would say go into this book open minded though because I got further into the book and became ho
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The psychology of persuasion emanates from three directions: the characteristics of the source, the mind-set of the target person, and the psychological context within which the communication takes place.” Thus begins this revelatory and sobering treatise on the ways humans fool themselves and others. A professor and practicing psychologist for 40+ years, Levine signed up to experience firsthand the persuasive techniques of people like car dealers, door-to-door salesmen (Cutco knives), and cult ...more
Khôi Nguyễn
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is another must read book for anyone interested in critical thinking, any sales person or advertising executive.

There’s no surprise that the power of persuasion can be used to manipulate people but to the extents as mentioned in the book by cult leaders are terrifying.

I’m thrilled by the build up of this book to the very end and found it compelling by the final message about this subject.

After reading this book, your perspective would never be the same.
Erik Rostad
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good book that teaches you how marketers, salespeople, and even cult leaders use specific tactics of persuasion. The hope is that by identifying these tactics, you'll be less susceptible to falling for them. As Richard Feynman said, "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool." This book puts you in a better position to not be fooled.
Peter House
The Power of Persuasion is a fun, easy read. The author covers ground ranging from sales techniques of MLM brands and car salesmen, of which he actually went out and did for a time, to cults. The author shares a number of interesting anecdotes which helps the book feel less academic. The Stanford Prison Experiment even shows up.

Arnab Padhi
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Pretty basic. So you can give a try if you have never read a book on consumer behavior or behavioral economics.
Most of the concepts and ideas are can be found in many other books.
Isn't the best book on persuasion or human irrationality.
Fahad Bin Khalid
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quite interesting!
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Worth reading parts, skimming parts, and compiling some checklists. Definitely read the step by step guide to selling cars (and telling lies). I didn't know much about Jonestown or Moonies, so the cult analysis was informative.

I'd give the book 4 starts but for the misleading bits that require me to spend unproductive effort.

The author includes a lot of analogous that read as facts. Comparing his theory to biology is persuasive, but misleading. Ironically, the author is not a fan of misleading p
Michael Reyes
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you found yourself watching an infomercial about a thingamajig and found yourself thinking, "Hmmm... I don't need it, but I want it!" or have you been approached by a street vendor hawking their wares but instead of buying something, you just gave them your loose change? We all have been persuaded to do one thing or another at some point in our lives, whether it was something we really wanted to do or something that we were reluctant to do but did it anyway... But did you know that there's ...more
Marian Deegan
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As one who works in advertising, is ever attempting to hone critical thinking skills, and has been *repeatedly* snagged by those vexing email cons, I found this book compulsively readable.

Levine is a social psychologist who takes us through our own illusion of invulnerability to marketing ploys of all kinds, and then lays bare an array of manipulative techniques used by advertisers, salespeople, and cults. It is a fascinating read, on par with Gavin De Becker's Gift of Fear and Mitnik's Art of
Feb 28, 2012 rated it liked it
It was good and stands on its own but I found Robert Cialdini's "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" more interesting and useful (and Cialdini's work is cited frequently by Levine)

The pull to Levine's book was that he and his students had hands on experiance by working as car/Tupperware/Cutco salesmen and integrating with cults and other movements, which he did, but it was reported more as results of the inquiry than an engaging story of his experiances in those institutions, which left me
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've been trying to find good info on cults and how they attract others and this is one of the best I've read that really breaks it down. It also tells you why you hate car salesmen. It gives you the specific steps involved which can influence you. Read this with Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength and you'll really know how to get out of some situations that you may regret later.
Apr 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Absolutely loved it. Only thing keeping me from giving this a 5/5 rating is that it was mostly academic in nature. So if that's what you're looking for, then this is a good stop. But my overall favorite books have more an emotional appeal, too.

I find this kind of psychology fascinating, and he highlights several very interesting facts and studies. He knows his material well, but the book is easily readable for non-psych students like me. (By contrast as I thumbed through other similar-looking bo
Dave Burns
Mar 05, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
I went straight to the last two chapters, ch 9 on Jonestown was fascinating. Ch 10 on the art of mental self defense was a bit disappointing. Levine makes a big point that many people feel invulnerable to advertising and other forms of persuasion, but that this is often self-deception. When we feel most comfortable we are most vulnerable.
Tim Calkins
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a terrific look at how people persuade others. If you have ever wondered exactly what was going on when the salesperson at a car dealership ran off to talk to his manager, well, this book clues you in. This is a wonderful (and somewhat scary) book.
Dave Peticolas
How do professional persuaders (salespeople, politicians, cult leaders, etc.) practice the tools of their trade? What aspects of human psychology make us vulnerable to such techniques, and how can we resist them?
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
Excellent book on the ways we are manipulated through advertising, marketing, and charismatic figures. Written with wit and self-effacing humor. Highly recommended for all consumers.

Read for a CSUEB graduation requirement class (Human Development).
Aug 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Much like Cialdini's Influence, this book does a good job of itemizing all the ways in which we're being gentled nudged or violently corralled into one form of behavior or another. A little more personal and easy to read than Influence, but probably not as exhaustive.
Avisek Barla
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It answered a lot of questions that I had. Advertising, persuasion and manipulation! amazing
Apr 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: PR people, sales and marketing types
Shelves: persuasion
Fascinating study of tried and true persuasion techniques from used car salesman to Jonestown.

Enduring insight: demonstrate three elements to win trust - authority, experience and likeability
Aug 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
An insightful book into the whole area of sales. Relevant.
Jul 03, 2012 marked it as to-read
Interesting book, there were numerous examples and comparisons given
Apr 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
i realized how influence-able we are after reading this book

gos, ban all the ads!!
Feb 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ted by: Eric Yorkston, Marketing Professor
A witty look at marketing tactics; includes info on Jim Jones and Guyana.
Max Mahan
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you have any interest in bargaining, psychology, or how you get swindled into buying things - definitely a great book to look at.
Brad Lauster
Jan 03, 2016 marked it as to-read
Recommended by Will MacAskill on Tim Ferriss' podcast
rated it liked it
Jul 27, 2010
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