Influence: Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion – #4 Liking


“The principle of Liking highlights the power of relationships in our decision-making process. We are naturally inclined to be influenced by those we feel connected to and trust.”

Robert Cialdini,

Did you ever wonder why certain people, products, and ideas effortlessly grab your attention and sway your decisions? 

Robert Cialdini explores how Liking shapes our behavior in the fantastic book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

Liking is one of six powerful psychological forces of persuasion — together with Reciprocity, Social Proof, Commitment and Consistency, Authority, and Scarcity.

Stick around to get some of the best examples of how Liking can be used as a powerful psychological force of persuasion.

We’ll start with a definition.

Understanding the principle of Liking

“We most prefer to say yes to the requests of someone we know and like.”

Robert Cialdini, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”

Cialdini defines the principle of Liking as the natural tendency to be influenced by those we know, like, and trust. 

Liking is a social phenomenon deeply ingrained in our psyche. 

It’s nearly impossible not to favor people similar to you, those who pay you compliments, and those you feel related or connected to. 

In other words, Liking influences interactions and outcomes in your life. 

And understanding the principle of Liking is vital to navigating the intricate web of social influence and persuasive powers. 

3 examples of Liking in action:

1. Similarity

One of the most influential aspects of Liking lies in our attraction to those who are similar to us. 

We like to cheer for people we can identify with. 

And we tend to gravitate toward individuals who share our interests, values, backgrounds, and ideology—even clothes, birthdays, hometowns, and favorite sports teams. 

Anything major or minor you share can narrow the gap. 

2. Repetition

Just Do It.

Because You’re Worth It.

Think Different.

Repetition is the reason why you effortlessly remember the companies behind the three slogans above, even if they are products you don’t use or prefer. 

Repeating the same message or logo sounds like brainwashing. And you could argue that it is brainwashing. 

Marketers use repetition as a tool to enter (and stay in) the minds of consumers and forge Liking. 

Here’s how it works. 

When you repeatedly see or hear the same brand, product, or message, you will increasingly accept them as safe and trustworthy. In marketing, this process is called the “mere exposure effect.” 

The frequency increases recall and transforms into a feeling of Liking over time. You might even hum a jingle from time to time.

3. Familiar faces

Using a familiar face is a fast pass to create Liking. 

Attractive, familiar faces are even better. 

Studies show that attractive people are generally more well-liked and often described as skilled, friendly, honest, and intelligent. 

Marketers, charities, and politicians spend millions on celebrity endorsements featuring beautiful, successful people we all know.  

When you associate a product with a likable and famous personality, the likability will rub off on whatever is being sold. Whether it’s a charity donation, a political view, or a new pair of shoes doesn’t matter. 

It’s hard to devalue just how much celebrities, authorities, and public figures influence public opinion.

Applying the power of Liking: How it helps you

Understanding and utilizing the principle of Liking holds various upsides for you:

  • Stronger relationships: When genuinely interested in others and seeking commonalities, you can cultivate profound and meaningful relationships.
  • Bigger influence: If you employ the principle of Liking, you can persuade others more effectively and inspire positive actions.
  • Positive self-perception: To experience the warmth of Liking from others boosts your self-esteem and confidence, which leads to a more positive self-perception.

The dark side of Liking: How it can trick you

As powerful as the principle of Liking is, some people and organizations exploit it to manipulate and deceive:

  • Groupthink: In social groups, Liking can lead us to conform blindly to a radical group’s opinions and rules, regardless of the consequences. Cults and religions come to mind. 
  • Exploitative marketing: Some marketers use Liking to create a false sense of connection, making consumers feel obliged to buy products they don’t need or want.
  • Deceptive persuasion: Shady individuals may use Liking to win trust and manipulate others into making decisions they later regret.

Conclusion: Navigating the realm of Liking

Liking can lead us to seek information that aligns with our pre-existing beliefs and dismiss or downplay evidence that contradicts them. 

As such, Liking can subtly weave the threads of confirmation bias into our thinking processes. 

Not surprisingly, we prefer to interact and listen to people we like. So, when we have a positive affinity for brands or people, we become more receptive to their ideas and opinions. 

As a result, Liking a person or a particular viewpoint can cloud our judgment, reinforcing our existing beliefs and narrowing our perspective. 

That’s why it’s crucial to be on your guard and look for evidence or facts if you find yourself persuaded by a message that “feels right,” mostly because of the messenger.  

As such, the principle of Liking is a double-edged sword. 

Liking can create new connections and meaningful relationships when used with genuine intentions. 

On the other hand, some individuals and organizations will exploit Liking for personal gain and try to manipulate your thinking and behavior.

By Kristian Magnus

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