Weapons of Influence #3: Social Proof (Ep. 193)

The time has come to jump back into Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. This time, we’re talking about the wisdom of the crowd.

Like both of the mental tricks we’ve covered so far in this series, following the rule of social proof is usually a good idea. But like all good things, it can backfire when you least expect it — both as a perfectly innocent coincidence and as a result of the ever persistent salespeople of the world.

Anyway, thousands of other people are going to be listening to this episode, so I shouldn’t have to convince you. It’s just got to be good, right?

Things mentioned in this episode

This week’s episode is sponsored by:

  • Brilliant – Accelerate your learning in math, science, and computer science. Start learning for free at Brilliant.org/CollegeInfoGeek – and if you’re among the first 200 people to sign up, you’ll also get 20% off your subscription.

Other things we mentioned in this episode:

Want more cool stuff? You can find all sorts of great tools at my Resources page.


  • 0:01:12 – What is social proof and how does it affect us?
  • 0:08:26 – The two factors that make social proof powerful
  • 0:19:35 – Some practical examples of social proof
  • 0:26:13 – Sponsor: Brilliant (Learning problem-solving skills)
  • 0:28:40 – The story of a flying saucer cult
  • 0:36:11 – Pluralistic ignorance and the bystander effect
  • 0:46:28 – Exploiting people’s perspectives through social proof
  • 1:03:36 – Recap and conclusion

If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! It’s easy, you’ll get new episodes automatically, and it also helps the show gain exposure 🙂 You can also leave a review!

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Weapons of Influence #3: Social Proof

Martin Boehme is a web developer, language nerd, and Nintendo fanboy. Talk to him in English, Spanish, French, or very basic Japanese on Twitter.

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