Why Influence?

# of Tactics?

16 Tactics
53 Tactics

Ethics I
Ethics II


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This is Marwell & Schmitt's Taxonomy of 16 influence tactics. It's a "classic" taxonomy (from 1967) that inspired a lot of subsequent research, writing, and thinking about the topic of influence. It is still used in modern research as a starting point. Other taxonomies have come up with similar categories, enhancing the "classic" status of the Marwell & Schmitt taxonomy. It's a good, basic list! You'll find a lot of overlap between it and most other taxonomies out there, if you look carefully.

Here's a thought question for you--after you read this list, could you break it down into an even more compact list, by combining tactics that appear to be similar? I'll bet you could! Try making a list of four, five, or six clusters or dimensions by condensing Marwell & Schmitt's 16. Would your list be any more or less correct? Any more or less useful? Do you see why I said it's difficult to tell when you have an 'ideal' list?

(By the way, Marwell & Schmitt later broke their list down into clusters and dimensions, too. That's why you see their name on the previous page's list more than once.)


    • I'll reward you if you do it. "I'll throw in a pair of speakers if you buy it today." "Thanks! I'll make certain your manager knows how helpful you were."


    • I'll punish you if you don't do it. "If you don't buy it today, I won't be able to offer you this special incentive price again." "If I can't get it at that price tomorrow, then I'll take my business elsewhere."

Positive Expertise

    • Speaking as an authority on the subject, I can tell you that rewards will occur if you do X, because of the nature of reality. "If you start working out at our gym regularly, you'll find that people are more attracted to you physically."

Negative Expertise

    • Speaking as an authority on the subject, I can tell you that punishments will occur if you do Y, because of the nature of reality. "If you don't buy it today, you may never get another chance--our stock is almost sold out."

Liking, Ingratiation

    • Getting the prospect into a good frame of mind ­ "Gosh you look nice today. I just love that hat you're wearing! Should we order dessert before we look over the contracts?"

Gifting, Pre-giving

    • Giving something as a gift, before requesting compliance. The idea is that the target will feel the need to reciprocate later. "Here's a little something we thought you'd like. Now about those contracts . . ."


    • Calling in past favors. "After all I've done for you! Come on--this time it's me who needs the favor."

Aversive Stimulation

    • Continuous punishment, and the cessation of punishment is contingent on compliance. "I'm going to play my classical music at full volume if you insist on playing your rock music at full volume. When you turn yours down, I'll turn mine down."

Moral Appeal

    • This tactic entails finding moral common ground, and then using the moral commitments of a person to obtain compliance. "You believe that women should get equal pay for equal work, don't you? You don't believe that men are better than women, do you? Then you ought to sign this petition! It's the right thing to do."

Positive Self-feeling

    • You'll feel better if you X. "If you join our club today, you'll feel better about yourself because you'll know that you're improving every day."

Negative Self-feeling

    • You'll feel bad if you Y. "If you don't return it to him and apologize, you'll find it hard to live with yourself."

Positive Altercasting

    • Good people do X. "Smart people tend to sign up for the year in advance, because that's how they can get the best weekly rate."

Negative Altercasting

    • Only a bad person would do Y. "You're not like those bad sports that whine and complain when they lose a game."


    • Do-Me-A-Favor. "I really need this photocopied right away, can you help me out?" (An extremely common influence tactic and in wide use among friends and acquaintances).

Positive Esteem of Others

    • Other people will think more highly of you if you X. "People resepect a man who drives a Mercedes."

Negative Esteem of Others

    • Other people will think worse of you if you Y. "You don't want people thinking that you're a drug-head loser, do you?"

Take me back to the page, "How Many Influence Tactics Are There?" or take me to Levine & Wheeless' 53 Tactics page.

Copyright © 2002 by Kelton Rhoads, PhD
All rights reserved.

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