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Robert E. Cialdini’s Influence: Reciprocity and Hook Point

April 29, 2016

I’m sure most aspiring PUAs are well aware of Robert B Cialdini’s classic book Influence. I’m wading through it right now and I must say it’s a very interesting text buttressed with lots of research and fun anecdotes (although most social psychology experiments are junk and cannot be replicated). So far so good and now that I’m halfway through, it looks like a book I can recommend. However, there’s one rather important caveat: If you’re a cunt, this book will make you more of a cunt, ultimately to the detriment of your game.


Before we get into that, let’s make an example of the first of his six weapons of influence: reciprocation. Cialdini explains it thus: “The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us”

Cialdini cites research suggesting reciprocity is a universal human trait evolved because it creates high social trust and thus unlocks the benefits of cooperation and division of labour. Societies with high social trust outperform those without – as seen in an obvious comparison between Northern Europe and the Middle East. Cialdini’s best example is an experiment performed by Professor Dennis Regan of Cornell University *. The experimental task was ostensibly about two subjects rating paintings on their artistic merits. The real deal was that one subject was real and the other – “Joe” – was a stooge. Cialdini continues:

“For our purposes, the experiment took place under two different conditions. In some cases…. during a short rest period, Joe left the room for a couple of minutes and returned with two bottles of Coca-Cola, one for the subject and one for himself, saying, “I asked him [the experimenter] if I could get myself a Coke, and he said it was okay, so I bought one for you, too.” In other cases, Joe did not provide the subject with a favour; he simply returned from the two-minute break empty-handed. In all other respects, however, Joe behaved identically.”

After the art appreciation ended Joe asked the subject for a favour – to buy some raffle tickets for a new car at 25c (the Coke was a dime). Subjects who’d received his favour of a Coke reciprocated by buying twice as many tickets as those who hadn’t. Interestingly, while the “no Coke” control group scaled their ticket sales according to how likeable they rated Joe in a post-experiment debriefing, the “received Coke” group bought the same number of tickets independent of his likeability. Cialdini concludes the obligation of reciprocity was triggered and completely overruled likeability.

Cialdini then explains how the reciprocity rule applies to daygame. Sorry, I mean Hare Krishnas offering flowers in airports and refusing to take the gift back. He explains his observations that many travelers will try hard to avoid the Krishnas precisely to avoid feeling indebted, and that once the Krishnas successfully thrust the flower into your hand they will not allow you to return it. They know they’ve triggered the rule and got you indebted.

This is something Gavin De Becker in “The Gift of Fear” calls loansharking. A predator will aggressively thrust an unwelcome gift or favour onto a stranger precisely in order to trigger feelings of indebtedness and thus the obligation of reciprocation. The stranger is now faced with an internal struggle (Do I reciprocate against my better judgement, or risk the cognitive dissonance of refusing the gift and thus risking the identity of being an “ingrate”) and also a frame control battle (“No, I don’t want it” / “It’s our gift to you” / “Yes, but I didn’t ask for it” / “That’s okay, please keep it” / “Take it back” / “No. Please consider a donation”)

The typical stranger just isn’t mentally prepared for that kind of internal struggle and frame control battle – they are just trying to catch a flight. In contrast the Hare Krishna / mugger is well-practiced, mentally prepared, and carries a self-serving ideology to justify their loan-sharking ** It’s not an even battle. I’d be very surprised if you haven’t spotted the parallels to game. Let’s start with a neutral comparison and then trend darker.

Mystery Method does not engage in immediate reciprocation because it’s an indirect style of game. So in the classic MM set the player will make an offhand observation to a group, perhaps an opinion opener. If that gets a response he may drop in a neg against the girl he wants. I quite like MM but it doesn’t work in the daygame scenarios I favour. What’s important for this discussion, though, is that no favour is given. It isn’t until stage A2 (Female-To-Male attraction) that the girl IOIs the player, and thus he will reciprocate with A3 (Male-To-Female attraction) and IOI and/or qualify the girl. This is rather clever in how it flips the script at a meta-level. It just doesn’t work in street game so the London style changes the opening.

Street game requires an early favour to stop the girl: the compliment-tease. A player’s ability to kill momentum and reach hook point comes from pouring in some early value via the act of stopping, the insertion of good vibe into her day, and then stacking forwards with a mythology. By the time you’ve finished those early seconds you’ve done the girl a rather pleasant (but un-requested) favour. She feels indebted and the reciprocation urge is triggered. Usually this will be expressed by her smiling and politely receiving your advance until she decides Yes/Maybe/No.

In the happy-clappy world of unicorns and rainbows this is a win-win scenario because girls like to be approached. Human courtship does not allow girls to overtly initiate seduction so they can only dress nice, put themselves in the mix, and then hope the right man approaches. Even if you’re not that right man, you’ve reminded her she’s sexually relevant and given her a pleasant encounter. Win-win.

The problem is how tempting it is for an aspiring daygamer to misuse the reciprocity rule, to drain girls of the will to live. They’ll plow on despite increasingly strong IODs and constantly hit the girl with “one more thing before you go”. If they are RSD-trained they’ll follow her all the way down the street with a non-stop pestering. So we have now slipped from the win-win of reciprocity to the win-lose of loansharking.


Good daygame will implement all the powerful lessons of persuasion but without the black-hearted exploitation seen by the scammers and Ted Cruz types of this world. Perhaps one of these days I’ll explain how all six of Cialdini’s weapons of influence are hard-boiled into the London Daygame Model. The purpose of game is not to instigate a frame-control battle with an unprepared girl and then to hammer her down until you draw out an unwilling “Yes”. That’s the road to flaky numbers, text-hell, and dates-to-nowhere. If you get very good at it you’ll get some lays that the girls bitterly regret once free of your influence.

If that last sentence got you thinking “fine by me, bring it on” you have some inner game work to do.

As both Lord of the Rings and Star Wars amply demonstrate, the Dark Side is seductive because it’s easier. It’s a set of hacks and tricks that let you plunder the world for a while. For game, the problem is that it rots your soul and pushes you deeper into the win-lose interactions that kill your vibe long term. When your vibe suffers your results will crater and you’ll get longer periods of daygame revulsion.

I always tell students: “Game in a way that protects your vibe over the long term”

Cialdini is just describing the dark side rather than recommending it. He ends every chapter with advice on how to resist such attempts to influence you. Enjoy his book because it really is a fascinating look into the world of professional persuasion but don’t get too carried away with the skills of scammers, fund-raisers, Hare Krishnas, TV evangelists or any other huckster persuaders. Try to extract their tactical wisdom but leave the whole win-lose frame behind or it’ll tank your vibe.

If you think this post was persuasive, you should see my book.

* I dread to think where this position has be relocated under the current regressive Leftist stranglehold on US universities. Probably an affirmative action hire for an immigrant doing Anti-Male Studies.
** If you’ve ever said “Fuck off gypsy cunt I hope you die” to an aggressive gypsy beggar you’ll see spectacular levels of entitlement and ego defence from them. Trust me, I’ve tested this.

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Title Robert E. Cialdini’s Influence: Reciprocity and Hook Point
Author krauserpua
Date April 29, 2016 12:18 PM UTC (7 years ago)
Blog Krauser PUA
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