20 Best Books on Persuasion and Influence ๐Ÿค #2023 #psychology #negotiation #sales

20 best books on persuasion

Imagine having a superpower โ€” the ability to influence people’s thoughts, sway them to your point of view, and inspire them to take action. (In a positive way, of course!) ๐Ÿฆธ

This is not a fantasy, it’s the power of persuasion. ๐Ÿค Persuasion is a skill that is crucial for success in many areas of life, from business and marketing to leadership and personal relationships.

But the best part? Persuasion is a skill that can be learned. It’s not a secret gift reserved for a lucky few. It’s an ability that we can develop. By learning from the right minds, we can learn how to communicate more effectively and get more of what we want in life. Plus, learning persuasion also teaches us how to resist unwanted influence, like manipulation and propaganda. ๐Ÿ“ฃ

Here’s how we’ve carefully chosen this list of best books on persuasion:

  • ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ผ Expert Recommendations and Reader Reviews. The most highly rated and respected books, picked from 10+ hours of extensive research. (Check some of our references at the bottom.)
  • ๐Ÿ› ๏ธ Actionable Techniques and Strategies. Practical strategies and hacks that you can apply in your real life, whether at work or home.
  • ๐Ÿ”ฌ Science-Based and Credible. From top experts, researchers, professors, and business leaders.

Contents

  1. Best for Marketing and Entrepreneurs
  2. 1. Influence by Robert Cialdini
  3. 2. Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini
  4. 3. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
  5. 4. Contagious by Jonah Berger
  6. 5. Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller
  7. Best for Negotiation and Sales
  8. 6. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
  9. 7. Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher
  10. 8. To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink
  11. 9. Way of the Wolf by Jordan Belfort
  12. 10. Trump: The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump
  13. Best for Leadership and Communication
  14. 11. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  15. 12. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  16. 13. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  17. 14. Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler
  18. 15. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
  19. Best on the Psychology of Decision Making
  20. 16. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  21. 17. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
  22. 18. Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
  23. 19. Propaganda by Edward Bernays
  24. 20. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Best for Marketing and Entrepreneurs

1. Influence by Robert Cialdini

What is it about? 10-second summary:Influence is about six principles of persuasion useful for sales, marketing and negotiation. Professor Robert Cialdini says certain triggers can influence human decisions almost automatically. The six principles are: reciprocity, consistency, social proof, liking, authority and scarcity.

Top quote in the book: “Our best evidence of what people truly feel and believe comes less from their words than from their deeds.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“Many said the book is well-researched and a must read for anyone in sales and marketing.“
Criticism:
“Some felt the writing can be repetitive, and the six principles could be explained in a short article.“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿ‘ฅ Social Proof. People often look to others to decide what they should do. This is why celebrity endorsements and positive reviews are so powerful in selling.
  2. ๐Ÿ•ฐ Commitment and Consistency. People strongly desire to appear consistent with their past behavior and beliefs. Get someone to agree to a small request or task, and they’ll be more likely to agree to larger, related requests in the future.
  3. ๐Ÿ”ฅ Scarcity. People perceive things as more valuable when they’re harder to get. Emphasizing limited availability creates a feeling of urgency, persuading people to buy a product.

My personal opinion? Influence is probably the greatest marketing book of all time. Once you really understand the 6 principles, you’ll never see the world the same way again. It may feel like seeing the Matrix for the first time. And Cialdini’s next book coming up is just as good…

2. Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini

What is it about? 10-second summary:Pre-Suasion shows a new side of influence. It's about everything that happens BEFORE you ask someone to say yes to your proposal. Professor Robert Cialdini has distilled hundreds of scientific studies to prove that how you FRAME a message from the beginning is crucial to its success.

Top quote in the book: “What we present first changes the way people experience what we present to them next.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“Many readers found science-based insights they could apply to marketing and sales.“
Criticism:
“Some said the science on subliminal priming mentioned in the book is doubtful.“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿ”‘ The Priming Effect. Small changes (or “cues) to our environment, can make us more receptive to a certain message.
  2. ๐ŸŽฏ Attention = Importance. When our attention is directed toward something, we automatically begin to perceive it as more important. This strategy is often used by politicians or media organizations.
  3. ๐Ÿ”— The Unity Principle. We are more persuaded by those who are like us or are part of our ‘ingroup.’ Emphasize commonalities to enhance your persuasive power.

3. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath

What’s it about?

Made to Stick unravels the mystery why some ideas and messages captivate us and “stick” in our minds long after we’ve heard them. If we want to craft powerful communication or marketing, Chip and Dan Heath say we should follow the 6 key principles of their “SUCCESs” model: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotional resonance, and telling compelling Stories.

Best quote:

“The most basic way to get someoneโ€™s attention is this: Break a pattern.”

Is it worth reading?

โญ๏ธ 4.6 on Amazonโญ๏ธ 4.0 on Goodreads
๐Ÿ‘ Positive reviews say: Many readers found the book’s ideas immediately useful and loved the concrete, real world examples.๐Ÿ‘Ž Criticism: Some felt the ideas could have been explained in way fewer pages and much less repetition.

Key takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿ’ก Simplify to the Core. This is about finding the most essential part of your message, and stripping out unnecessary details that dilute its power. My favourite is Walmart’s slogan “We sell for less.”
  2. ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ Break a Pattern. Say something unexpected or surprising to capture and retain attention. Basically every movie is interesting because something unexpected happens. Think about that.
  3. ๐Ÿ“œ Use Concrete Language. Make your ideas clear and specific to paint a vivid picture in the listener’s mind. Like Jesus’s parables talk about shepherds, sheep, mustard seeds, etc.

4. Contagious by Jonah Berger

What is it about? 10-second summary:Contagious shows how we can make our content or products more viral and shareable. Jonah Berger simplified years of his social psychology research into 6 essential principles: social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value and stories.

Top quote in the book: “Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“Many readers loved the fascinating examples and stories used to illustrate the ideas.“
Criticism:
“Some felt the book was little more than common sense and tended to be repetitive.“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ Social Currency. We share things that make us look good or help us compare favorably to others.
  2. ๐Ÿค” Triggers. Ideas that are top of mind spread. Like a catchy jingle that comes up every time you think of a certain word.
  3. ๐ŸŽ‰ Emotion. Emotion is a big driver in our decision to share. High arousal emotions like excitement or anger get us to pass things on.

5. Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

What’s it about?

Building a StoryBrand teaches a unique approach to marketing based on storytelling, so we can create a brand message that truly engages our customers. Donald Miller says that your business should be framed not as the hero of the story, but as a guide. Your job is to help your customerโ€”the true heroโ€”overcome an important problem in their own story.

Best quote:

“The most basic way to get someoneโ€™s attention is this: Break a pattern.”

Is it worth reading?

โญ๏ธ 4.7 on Amazonโญ๏ธ 4.3 on Goodreads
๐Ÿ‘ Positive reviews say: Many readers loved that complex marketing concepts were simplified into an actionable storytelling framework.๐Ÿ‘Ž Criticism: Some said the book at times felt like a sales pitch for StoryBrand workshops.

Key takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿ… Customer as Hero. In the story of your brand, your company is not the hero. The customer is the hero. You exist to help them succeed in overcoming a problem.
  2. ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ Be the Guide. Position your brand as the mentor in the customer’s journey, providing the necessary wisdom, tools, and confidence to conquer their challenges.
  3. ๐Ÿšง Clarify their Problem. Clearly identify the challenges faced by your customer. This creates urgency and amplifies the need for your solution.

Best for Negotiation and Sales

6. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

What is it about? 10-second summary:Never Split the Difference shows how to win negotiations and communicate more influentially. Chris Voss perfected his techniques over 25 years at the FBI, negotiating with kidnappers and terrorists. He says we should work with emotions not just reason, demonstrate empathy, use open-ended questions and educate ourselves about cognitive biases.

Top quote in the book: “To get real leverage, you have to persuade them that they have something concrete to lose if the deal falls through.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“- Very practical negotiation tactics - Surprising psychology insights - Applicable to everyday life beyond just business“
Criticism:
“- Promotes manipulation - Can learn more efficiently from the author's Youtube channel“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐ŸŽฏ Start With ‘No.’ Don’t be scared to hear the word ‘no’ in a negotiation. Being able to say ‘no’ helps the other person feel in control and at ease, so it’s often a great way to start a discussion that is open and productive.
  2. ๐Ÿ‘ฅ Mirroring. Repeating the last few words your counterpart said can make them feel heard, and encourages them to keep speaking and revealing more information. For example, if they say, “We’re looking for a deal that’s beneficial for both of us,” you might respond with, “Beneficial for both of us?”
  3. ๐Ÿ˜Š Labeling. Verbally acknowledging the emotions of your counterpart can de-escalate tension and lead to better understanding. For example, if they seem frustrated, you might say, “It seems like you’re feeling frustrated about this situation.”

My personal opinion here: This book is really hard to beat, as a business book that is both wildly entertaining (from the author’s FBI career), but also immediately practical. Like you can start using the tips in your next conversation, he literally tells us the exact words to say.

7. Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher

What is it about? 10-second summary:Getting to Yes is the most important book on negotiation, according to many professionals. It comes from leaders of The Harvard Negotiation Project, who wanted to help people negotiate agreements with less time and friction. The four steps of the method are: people, interests, options and criteria.

Top quote in the book: “If you want someone to listen and understand your reasoning, give your interests and reasoning first and your conclusions or proposals later.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“Many say it is THE book to read on negotiation, required reading for many students in law or business.“
Criticism:
“The writing can be sometimes dry and technical, in other words kind of boring.“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿ‘‚ Interests Over Positions. The best negotiators know how to listen between the lines. Instead of fixating on the demands (or “position”) the other side is taking, look deeper to uncover their real interests.
  2. ๐Ÿฅง Expand the Pie. It’s not always about dividing the pie, sometimes you can make the pie bigger. Brainstorming can lead to alternative agreements that fulfill everyone’s needs even better.
  3. ๐Ÿ“ Find Fair Standards. You can resolve conflicts by pointing to objective measures and pre-existing examples. This means referring to accepted standards, norms, or precedents to decide what’s fair.

8. To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink

What is it about? 10-second summary:To Sell Is Human is about "non-sales selling" or, how to persuade others. Daniel Pink argues that sales skills are more essential than ever because "moving others" has become a part of most careers and businesses. His advice centers on the new ABCs: Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity.

Top quote in the book: “To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resourcesโ€”not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“A collection of useful tips, generally based on interesting psychology studies.“
Criticism:
“The author dismisses traditional selling strategies, but was never in sales himself.“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿ‘” Non-Sales Selling. Everyone, no matter their job, has to persuade or “move” others in some way. It’s not just for traditional sales roles, but for anyone who wants to get their ideas across.
  2. ๐ŸŽถ Get In Tune. The best sellers really listen to their buyers. They understand their viewpoint and needs. This way, they can offer something truly valuable.
  3. ๐ŸŒŠ Stay Afloat. A salesperson has to cross an “ocean of rejection”. Stay positive and resilient, and always be ready to learn from the ‘no’s and bounce back.

9. Way of the Wolf by Jordan Belfort

What’s it about?

The Way of the Wolf is a window into the world of sales at the highest levels, written by Jordan Belfort, the “Wolf of Wall Street” himself! His techniques are not just about selling, they’re about understanding people’s needs, projecting more confidence, and communicating with the right emotional tone.

Best quote:

“You see, people donโ€™t buy on logic; they buy on emotion, and then justify their decision with logic.”

Is it worth reading?

โญ๏ธ 4.7 on Amazonโญ๏ธ 4.0 on Goodreads
๐Ÿ‘ Positive reviews say: – Excellent tips for professional salespeople and everyday communication – Straightforward to read and understand๐Ÿ‘Ž Criticism: – Writing tone was overly ‘salesy’ – Author likes to use hyperbole and exaggeration

Key takeaways:

  1. ๐ŸŽฌ Own the First 5 Seconds. People make snap judgments, so make your first impression count. Be goal-oriented, radiate positive energy, and quickly establish yourself as an expert in your field.
  2. ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ Transfer Certainty. Selling is about transferring your certainty about a product or service into the mind of your prospect. This is done by building up your conviction and communicating it effectively.
  3. ๐ŸŒซ๏ธ Address Uncertainty. To overcome objections, make the prospect is certain about three things: the product, you as the salesperson, and your company. They must see each of these as a 10 on a scale of certainty

10. Trump: The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump

What is it about? 10-second summary:Trump: The Art of the Deal is a memoir from Donald Trump that gives us an inside look at his earlier real estate career, building his empire that includes skyscrapers and casinos. Whether you love or hate Trump, you'll learn a lot about business, publicity and negotiation.

Top quote in the book: “Good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“Many valuable insights into the art of deal-making โ€” A candid look at Trump's beliefs and life โ€” Lessons on cultivating a risk-taking attitude and persistence“
Criticism:
“Some disliked Trump's bragging and strong personality โ€” Perceived some business tactics as dishonest โ€” A strong reliance on 'gut instincts' which is difficult to learn“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿš€ Think Big. Trump encourages readers to set lofty goals and strive for them without apprehension, believing that big ambitions often lead to big successes.
  2. ๐Ÿ”ฎ Trust Your Gut. Trump promotes the idea of trusting one’s instincts when making business decisions, believing that our body’s intuition can be a reliable guide in uncertain situations.
  3. ๐Ÿ’ช Use Leverage. Trump emphasizes tipping deals in your favour using any possible advantages, resources or information. (For example, consider negotiating a better deal on a car by leveraging the dealer’s need to meet sales quotas at the end of the month.)

A book about Trump is bound to spark some emotions, both positive and negative. All I can say is that before his whole political career, he was a famous business figure. And he knows a thing or two about making deals.

Best for Leadership and Communication

11. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

What is it about? 10-second summary:How to Win Friends and Influence People is a guide to getting along with others. Dale Carnegie says people are "creatures of emotion" that desperately desire a feeling of importance. We can provide that feeling with our sincere enthusiasm, consideration, interest and appreciation.

Top quote in the book: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“Many people felt the book made them a better person and more empathetic leader.“
Criticism:
“Some felt the advice was common sense, or that it promotes manipulation over authentic connection.“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿ˜Š Show Genuine Interest. People are more likely to engage with you if they feel you are truly interested in them, so always express sincere curiosity about others.
  2. ๐ŸŽ Give Honest Appreciation. Genuine and honest compliments can break barriers and foster a positive relationship, so don’t shy away from praising others sincerely.
  3. ๐ŸŽฃ Appeal to Nobler Motives. When persuading others, tap into their higher values or desires, which can often be more effective than just appealing to basic wants or needs.

This is an old book, a classic, but a must-read if you’re even a little interested in books on business and self-help. Basically, it teaches how to get along with people by not offending their pride. It’s a crucial skill for anyone to learn, and the earlier the better!

12. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

What is it about? 10-second summary:Start With Why says that great companies, organizations, and leaders are those who first understand their 'Why' - their purpose, cause, or reason for existing. Simon Sinek shows how leading companies like Apple inspire extraordinary loyalty with a strong focus on 'Why' they do what they do, not 'What' they sell, or 'How' they do things.

Top quote in the book: “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“Brilliant core concept โ€” Inspirational message about clear leadership โ€” Valuable insights into the success of Apple, Walmart, Southwest Airlines, etc.“
Criticism:
“Repetitive writing โ€” Overuse of certain examples (primarily Apple) โ€” Lack of small business examples“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐ŸŽฏ Discover Your Why. Identify and understand your purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do. Ask: Why do we get up in the morning, besides money?
  2. ๐ŸŒณ The Golden Circle. Start with ‘Why’ (your purpose), then ‘How’ (your process), and finally ‘What’ (your product) to create inspiring organizations and work.
  3. ๐Ÿš€ Inspire With Common Values. Don’t ‘manipulate’ your employees and customers with incentives and sales. Instead, promote your ‘why’ to inspire people to become part of the common mission.

13. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

What is it about? 10-second summary:Steve Jobs is the official biography of the co-founder of Apple and Pixar. He had an intense passion to create revolutionary products like the iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTunes, and Macintosh computers. His personality was an unusual mix of Zen hippie and brash business visionary.

Top quote in the book: “In the annals of innovation, new ideas are only part of the equation. Execution is just as important.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“People generally felt the book was well-written and shared many engaging stories from a fascinating life.“
Criticism:
“Most of the negative comments were actually about Steve Jobs' personality, saying he was often a jerk.“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐ŸŒŸ Reality Distortion Field. Steve Jobs’ uncompromising belief in his vision, often against all odds and critics, often allowed him to achieve things that seemed impossible.
  2. ๐ŸŽญ Good Showmanship. Jobs understood the power of a great presentation and turned product launches into much-anticipated events. That’s why people often camped outside of Apple stores to get the latest iPhones.
  3. ๐ŸŽง Customer Experience Obsession. Jobs’ intense focus on perfection led to breakthroughs in user experience. This included seamless integration of hardware, software, and servicesโ€”such as the iPod music player syncing with iTunes software on the Mac.

14. Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler

What’s it about?

Crucial Conversations provides essential tools for effectively handling difficult conversations, those where people are emotionally charged about conflicting opinions. By reading it, you’ll learn how to express your thoughts honestly and respectfully, understand others’ perspectives, and foster positive outcomes even within major disagreements.

Best quote:

“People who are skilled at dialogue do their best to make it safe for everyone to add their meaning to the shared poolโ€”even ideas that at first glance appear controversial, wrong, or at odds with their own beliefs.”

Is it worth reading?

โญ๏ธ 4.7 on Amazonโญ๏ธ 4.1 on Goodreads
๐Ÿ‘ Positive reviews say: Practical and actionable advice โ€” potentially life-changing to some people โ€” Great tips for resolving tension and conflict, whether at work or home๐Ÿ‘Ž Criticism: Repetitive examples โ€” Poorly organized writing โ€” Some felt the advice was common sense

Key takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿ™ Respect Safety. Respect the psychological safety of others in the conversation to maintain open dialogue and keep the conversation productive.
  2. ๐Ÿ’ก Shared Pool of Meaning. Encourage getting all relevant information out in the open to help you make better decisions collectively.
  3. ๐Ÿ”„ Embrace ‘And.’ Avoid “either/or” thinking. Explore the possibilities of combining seemingly conflicting options.

15. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

What’s it about?

The 48 Laws of Power is a guide to understanding and navigating social dynamics for personal and professional gain. By examining historical examples, Robert Greene lays out 48 laws to amass, maintain, and understand power. It’s a compelling read for those interested in strategic thinking, influence, history, and politics.

Best quote:

“Do not leave your reputation to chance or gossip; it is your life’s artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of an artist.”

Is it worth reading?

โญ๏ธ 4.7 on Amazonโญ๏ธ 4.2 on Goodreads
๐Ÿ‘ Positive reviews say: Highly educational content โ€” Rich in historical anecdotes โ€” Realistic view of human behavior๐Ÿ‘Ž Criticism: Perceived as promoting immoral behavior โ€” Potentially negative societal impact

Key takeaways:

  1. ๐ŸŽญ Never Outshine the Master. Always make those above you feel superior to maintain your position. Sometimes it pays off to give your boss the credit!
  2. ๐Ÿ’ก Always Say Less than Necessary. Talking less and listening more keeps you in control and preserves mystery. This can be especially practical in business negotiations, where you don’t want the other side knowing your true limits.
  3. ๐Ÿ’ญ Conceal Your Intentions. Keep your plans secret to prevent others from sabotaging your progress. This one is pretty self-explanatory, I guess…

Best on the Psychology of Decision Making

16. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

What is it about? 10-second summary:Thinking, Fast and Slow explains how people make decisions using two mental systems: "fast" thinking is instinctive and emotional, while "slow" thinking is deliberate and logical. Daniel Kahneman helps us understand our when our mind fall into common biases and irrational shortcuts, so we can make better decisions in the future.

Top quote in the book: “A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“Essential wisdom for understanding how we think and make decision โ€”ย Written by a Nobel Prize winner“
Criticism:
“Some felt the book is too long and tedious to finish reading โ€” Certain examples given were dry and academic“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿง  Two Thinking Systems. Understand that our mind operates in two systems โ€“ fast (intuition) and slow (rational) โ€“ and how they influence our decision-making.
  2. ๐Ÿ”Ž The Anchoring Bias. Be aware that initial information (the anchor) can heavily influence our decisions, even when unrelated. For example, when negotiating a price, the first number mentioned often “anchors” the rest of the discussion, even if it’s unreasonably low or high.
  3. ๐Ÿ”„ The Availability Heuristic. Recognize that we often overestimate the likelihood of events that are easily recalled. (A major downside of watching the newsโ€”our minds are filled with memorable anecdotal stories, which often do not match the reality of the world. We end up overestimating the risks of everything.)

17. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

What is it about? 10-second summary:Predictably Irrational explores the hidden forces that shape human behavior, revealing that we are not as rational as we think when making decisions. Itโ€™s a must-read if you want to better understand human nature and consumer behavior for marketing, or if you're looking to upgrade your own decision-making skills.

Top quote in the book: “Even the most analytical thinkers are predictably irrational; the really smart ones acknowledge and address their irrationalities.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“Entertaining and informative โ€” Comprehensive overview of behavioral economics โ€” Clear, understandable language“
Criticism:
“Authorโ€™s conclusions often go beyond the scientific research data โ€” Relies too much on experiments involving a narrow group (college students) โ€” Male-centric tone“

Key takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿ’ก Beware Relative Comparisons. Our perception of value is heavily influenced by comparisons and contrasts; be mindful to compare prices and value objectively, not just against what’s immediately available.
  2. ๐Ÿ“ˆ The Power of Free. People often overvalue ‘free’ items, even when it’s not the best deal; evaluate options thoroughly, considering actual worth and not just the allure of ‘free’.
  3. ๐Ÿ”„ Endowment Effect. We overvalue things we own and can struggle to let go; try to view decisions from an outsider’s perspective to avoid this bias.

18. Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

What’s it about?

Nudge explains how our decisions can be subtly shaped by the way choices are presented to us. Written by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, it introduces the concept of ‘nudge theory’ within behavioral economics and encourages policymakers to design environments that lead people to make better decisions about health, wealth, and happiness.

Best quote:

“By knowing how people think, we can make it easier for them to choose what is best for them, their families and society.”

Is it worth reading?

โญ๏ธ 4.4 on Amazonโญ๏ธ 3.8 on Goodreads
๐Ÿ‘ Positive reviews say: Engaging and humorous stories โ€” Helps us recognize nudges in real life โ€” Insights into the design of public policies๐Ÿ‘Ž Criticism: Overly theoretical rather than practical โ€” No discussion about the politics and ethics of who gets to ‘nudge’ us

Key takeaways:

  1. ๐ŸŽฏ Choice Architecture. How choices are presented to us can significantly influence our decisions. For example, students are more likely to eat healthy food in a school cafeteria if it’s placed at eye-level, while sugary snacks are harder to see or reach.
  2. ๐Ÿ“ Default Options. People tend to stick with the default choice, so setting beneficial options as defaults can help improve decision-making. One illustration: some countries make becoming an organ donor the default option when registering for a driver’s license, but you’re still free to opt-out.
  3. ๐Ÿ’ก Libertarian Paternalism. It’s possible to guide people towards better choices without limiting their freedom to choose. This is the difference between a warning sign at the beach, cautioning people to be careful swimming, versus a strict law against it.

19. Propaganda by Edward Bernays

What is it about? 10-second summary:Propaganda is an eye-opening look at how public opinion can be manipulated through media, for political power and profit. Edward Bernays says that in politics, an "invisible government" of thought leaders shape public discussion. And in business, companies use "public relations" techniques to control their reputation.

Top quote in the book: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“Many said Propaganda should be read by everyone, to understand how society really works.“
Criticism:
“Some found the book less interesting than expected, because almost all the examples are about business publicity.“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿ›๏ธ The Invisible Government. Propaganda makes life in a democratic society more organized and practical. (Bernays defined “propaganda” differently than we do today, more as “public relations.”)
  2. ๐Ÿค Win the Leader. Effective and influential propaganda campaigns make use of already existing social groups. They try to persuade the leader of a group to back their message. (Just like today we have influencer marketing or sports athletes being sponsored by major companies.)
  3. ๐Ÿง  Utilize Existing Mental ‘Clichรฉs.‘ People carry around existing ideas about how the world is, oversimplified stereotypes called ‘clichรฉs.’ Understanding these allows a propagandist to provoke a coordinated mass reaction.

Now, this last choice will seem unexpected, but the fact is: HABITS are the cornerstone of our lives. So to understand human decision-making, then you must understand how people form habits…

20. Atomic Habits by James Clear

What is it about? 10-second summary:Atomic Habits is a guide to building good habits and breaking bad ones. James Clear says all our habits follow a 4-Step Habit Loop which includes: cue, craving, response and reward. He explains practical techniques to "hack" each step so we can achieve lasting personal change.

Top quote in the book: “Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if youโ€™re willing to stick with them for years.

Is it worth reading? Reviews summary:
Positive reviews say:
“People found the book comprehensive, actionable, and focused on specific tips that really work.“
Criticism:
“Some were disappointed that it didn't contain more new and original ideas.“

Key Takeaways:

  1. ๐Ÿ”„ The Compound Effect. Small, consistent actions accumulate into significant results over time. Just like the power of compound interest in investing.
  2. ๐ŸŽฏ Goals vs. Systems. Instead of only focusing on goals, prioritize processes of continuous improvement. Sustainable success comes from daily habitual actions, not big one-time achievements.
  3. ๐Ÿ›Ž๏ธ Control Environmental Cues. Strategically place obvious cues, reminders or triggers around you to reinforce good habits. For example, putting your running shoes beside your bed can serve as an obvious cue to go jogging in the morning.
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