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Please take me back to the test.

People are more likely to be persuaded by many weak arguments, rather than a few good arguments, when they are:

a) in a rush
b) not particularly interested in the topic
c) moderately concerned about the topic
d) both a & b


If you're attempting to sell a customer an item from your company's lineup of three models (the "economy," the "midrange," and the "luxury" model), research has demonstrated you will obtain higher sales figures by:

a) starting at the bottom and moving up the line;
b) starting at the top and moving down the line;
c) starting at the middle and then allowing customers to "own the decision" by moving up or down the line themselves.


Years of tracking political elections have revealed that the single most reliable predictor of who will win an election is the candidate who:

a) is the most physically attractive;
b) produces the greatest number of negative or "attack" ads against his opponent;
c) has the most active and committed volunteer base;
d) spends the most time focusing on the issues.


Research has shown the general relationship between self-esteem and persuadability to be:

a) people with low self-esteem are the most persuadable;
b) people with average self-esteem are the most persuadable;
c) people with high self-esteem are the most persuadable.


Imagine you are the (unlucky) campaign manager of a political candidate who has recently lost the public's trust. Now imagine that the candidate wants to rebuild his reputation through profiling himself as a tough crime-fighter. Of the following choices, which represents the best way for your candidate to start his next ad?

a) "My opponent has not gone far enough in fighting crime . . ."
b) "Many have supported my ability and willingness to fight crime . . ."
c) "Although my opponent has a good record of fighting crime, . . ."


Imagine you are a financial advisor, and you believe that a young client of yours is invested too conservatively. In order to persuade her to invest in riskier, high-return investments, you should concentrate on describing:

a) how others like her have made similar mistakes (appeal to consensus);
b) what she stands to gain if she invests in riskier options (appeal to greed);
c) what she stands to lose if she does not invest in riskier options (appeal to loss).


Research has demonstrated that jurors are most persuaded by:

a) an expert witness who uses easy-to-understand terms;
b) an expert witness who speaks in incomprehensible language;
c) a witness who speaks with conviction.

If you have a new piece of information, when should you mention that it
is new?

a) before you present the information
b) in the middle of the presentation of the information
c) after the presentation of the information
d) you should not mention that it is new information.


Imagine you are presenting your case, and that you are coming to the part
of your presentation that contains good, strong arguments for your
position. How quickly should you speak?

a) you should speak very rapidly
b) you should speak somewhat rapidly
c) you should speak at a moderate rate

d) you should slow down


Which of the following excuses has been found to be the most effective way to get out of a traffic ticket in court?

a) Admission of guilt, followed by an apology, such as "I did change lanes without turning on my signal, and I apologize for that." (97% of the drivers using this approach were asked to pay the whole fine.)
b) Apology with a denial of intent: "I'm sorry I changed lanes without turning on my signal--I didn't intend to break the law, it's just that I was changing lanes quickly to avoid another motorist." (While only 30% of drivers using this type of argument are asked to pay the whole fine, very few people rely on this approach.)
c) Pointing out that the infraction was the result of the driving environment or another motorist: "Another driver abruptly cut me off and I had to move out of his way quickly. I didn't have time to put on my signal." (Over 80% of drivers who used this excuse were asked to pay the whole fine.)
d) Citing lack of knowledge combined with giving consensus information: "I didn't realize that signals had to be used even when no other cars are following closely. Virtually nobody uses signals when changing lanes in light traffic." (Over 90% of the drivers using this approach were asked to pay the full fine.)

How did you do?

  • 8-10 right: You're an influence genius! There's nothing I can teach you, so don't spend another second here. Go write that book on persuasion, and send me a copy of it when you're finished.
  • 6-8 right: An impressive performance. You'll enjoy reading this website as supplementary material to your large knowledge base.
  • 4-6 right: You are good at persuading people, but you need to read this website to refine your technique.
  • 2-4 right: You could use some improvement. Read the Academic Approach portion before your next influence attempt, and sign up for one of my influence classes at University of Southern California.
  • 0-3 right: I have some real estate that I'd like to sell you . . .

Are you an "influence genius"? If so, great! If not, don't be too hard on yourself. It's taken thousands of psychological researchers many decades to discover the answers to questions like those above. If you want to improve your score, many of the issues raised here are discussed under the Academic Approach portion of this web site.

Copyright © 1997 by Kelton Rhoads, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.

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