The best books on getting what you want without being evil

John S. Seiter Author Of Persuasion: Social Influence and Compliance Gaining
By John S. Seiter

Who am I?

As an undergraduate in college, I worked selling men’s clothing. There was a rack of suits that, for whatever reason, would not sell, so my boss phoned a coworker and told her to cut the price of the suits by 50 percent. Misunderstanding him, she doubled the price instead. By the time our boss returned from vacation, nearly all those suits had been sold! It made no sense to me…until I read Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence. From there, I not only sold plenty of suits, I earned a Ph.D. at the University of Southern California, and eventually was named a Distinguished Professor at Utah State University.

I wrote...

Persuasion: Social Influence and Compliance Gaining

By Robert H. Gass, John S. Seiter,

Book cover of Persuasion: Social Influence and Compliance Gaining

What is my book about?

The newest edition of this field-leading book provides a highly readable, often entertaining, yet astute, presentation of major approaches to persuasion. Using real-life examples, often involving the authors’ own persuasive mishaps, the book encourages readers to develop and apply conclusions about persuasion in real-world settings. Along the way, readers are also introduced to major theories of persuasion as they apply to the practice of social influence in an array of contexts (e.g., advertising, marketing, politics, interpersonal relationships, social media, groups) and across a variety of topics (e.g., credibility, personality, deception, motivational appeals, visual persuasion). Finally, the book not only emphasizes the goal of effective persuasion, but also the importance of being ethical in one’s attempts to influence others.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Why did I love this book?

This book, more than any other, inspired me to study the fascinating topic of persuasion. It not only helped me understand and defend myself against some of sneakiest tactics used by persuasion tricksters, it guided my thinking about what it means to be an ethical influencer. It is also chock full of “real life” examples, which makes it highly readable.

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The foundational and wildly popular go-to resource for influence and persuasion-a renowned international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold-now revised adding: new research, new insights, new examples, and online applications.

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini-New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion-explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don't have…

Thinking, Fast and Slow

By Daniel Kahneman,

Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Why did I love this book?

If the study of human irrationality interests you as much as it does me, you’ll love this book! By reading it, you will learn a vast array of principles for explaining how and why people are influenced. The book is a perfect companion to my favorite theory of persuasion—the elaboration likelihood model—which helps us understand that decision-making is not always well thought out, but rather based on a multitude of cognitive shortcuts. 

By Daniel Kahneman,

Why should I read it?

36 authors picked Thinking, Fast and Slow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal international bestseller - 2 million copies sold - that will change the way you make decisions

'A lifetime's worth of wisdom' Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
'There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Thinking, Fast and Slow' Financial Times

Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast,…

Book cover of Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches

Why did I love this book?

What do I consider the most important theory of persuasion? The elaboration likelihood model provides a detailed, yet elegant, framework for understanding two primary “routes” through which people are influenced. This academic book not only helped me synthesize a huge body of previous theory and research, it still provides a practical blueprint for constructing my own persuasive messages. 

By Richard E. Petty, John T. Cacioppo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Attitudes and Persuasion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides a needed survey of a truly remarkable number of different theoretical approaches to the related phenomena of attitude and belief change. It focuses on variable perspective theory which is far more deserving of attention than the present level of research activity.

Book cover of How to Win Friends and Influence People

Why did I love this book?

This book has been around longer than I have, which makes it borderline ancient. And yet, it is not—and probably never will be—outdated. The advice is so sage, so useful, and so well-written that I still recommend this book to students who want to develop essential communication skills. These skills, when appropriately applied, will make you a more effective persuader and, in my view, a better person too!

By Dale Carnegie,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked How to Win Friends and Influence People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Millions of people around the world have - and continue to - improve their lives based on the teachings of Dale Carnegie. In How to Win Friends and Influence People Carnegie offers practical advice and techniques, in his exuberant and conversational style, for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding.

His advice has stood the test of time and will teach you how to:
- make friends quickly and easily
- increase your popularity
- win people to your way of thinking
- enable you to win new clients and customers
- become a…

Book cover of Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Why did I love this book?

This book might not make you a more effective persuader, but it provides a teeth-clenching case study about biases affecting decision-making when the stakes are at their highest. Why would anyone risk their life to summit Mount Everest? Reading this book suggests that overconfidence bias and the sunk cost effect are likely to blame. 

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Into Thin Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The epic account of the storm on the summit of Mt. Everest that claimed five lives and left countless more—including Krakauer's—in guilt-ridden disarray. 

"A harrowing tale of the perils of high-altitude climbing, a story of bad luck and worse judgment and of heartbreaking heroism." —PEOPLE

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. 

By writing Into Thin Air, Krakauer may have hoped to exorcise some of his own demons…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in persuasion, decision making, and Mount Everest?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about persuasion, decision making, and Mount Everest.

Persuasion Explore 21 books about persuasion
Decision Making Explore 71 books about decision making
Mount Everest Explore 15 books about Mount Everest

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