The Principle of Authority

by | Sep 1, 2016

By Tom Mann, Principal, Executive Vice President

Doctor and patientFor my last several blogs, I have been discussing The Principles of Influence, as taught by Dr. Robert Cialdini, and how these principles apply to selling to seniors. Thus far, we have covered two of the six — Consistency and Likability. Today, we’ll be covering The Principle of Authority.

Studies show that people are more likely to comply when a request comes from an expert. As you would imagine, doctors rate very high on the scale of influence. How powerful is the principle of Authority? In the early 60’s, Dr. Milgram, a Yale University psychologist, tested the ability of authority figures to instruct otherwise normal, non-violent people to do unthinkable things. In fact, contrary to expectations, a majority of civilian volunteers would obey orders to apply electric shocks to another person until they were unconscious or dead. In Milgram’s experiments, obedience tended to increase with the prestige of the authority figure. Oh, and I should note, that those being shocked were in reality actors and the shocks simulated.

Did you know that at one point Camel cigarettes utilized this principle to hawk their product? They had ads with doctors recommending their brand.

So, remember people, you must only use these principles for the power of good! Of course, willingness to comply can be used for positive change. For example, the surgeon general telling you to quit smoking is a good thing! Your doctor telling you to exercise is a good thing!

At Love & Company, we’re always looking to apply this principle to our clients’ businesses. So, who is your exclusive expert? Your Salesperson? A Doctor? An Engineer? Architect? Accountant? Another resident or member? How can you apply this principle? Uniforms, badges, clipboards – become the expert. Also, add to your credentials by using press releases, videos, association memberships, public speaking, framed licenses, honors . . . Etc., etc . . . You get the point. I’m always very impressed when I go into my doctor’s office, she has something like 600 framed advanced education degrees, so she must be smart. Right?

Next, we’ll be discussing Social Proof.

For more information on how to apply The Principles of Influence to your community, contact Tim Bracken at 240-575-5596.

Attending LeadingAge Ohio? Be sure to attend our session (4E), “Using Marketing to Drive Long-Term Planning” on Thursday, September 8 at 8 a.m. The presentation will be led by Chris Carruthers and Tim Bracken. Visit page 15 of the conference brochure for a full session description.

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