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.


  1. Nothing clever about swearing at a Gypsy, I quite like them as they’ve had to struggle against persecution for hundreds of years yet still have a fairly upbeat pleasant demeanour about them. It seems in some regards you still have the mainstreams (faulty) beliefs ingrained into your thinking.

    On the main body of your post, I like the fact you are trying to push PUAs out of a grubby manipulative mindset into something more healthy and fulfilling. Don’t think it will work, but well done for trying anyway. [Gypsies are hard-wired to rob normal people. Fuck them. K.]

    • They’re persecuted for a reason. Anyone who has ever said they like gypsies has never had to live near them. Fuck off.

      • I think the “fuck off” bit was a little unnecessary, but yes I live in a leafy part of north London which would be unaffordable for all but the most successful gypsy front paving vendor, so you may have a point here. Perhaps I have some romantic delusions about gypsies likely supplied by literature .. in fact the moniker if you notice is the name the gypsy pirates gave to Edmund in Count of Monte Cristo!

    • I can tell you have spent very little time around gypsies.

    • This is a serious question for my own knowledge since you seem to have more experience dealing with them that I do … but … do they violently rob people or just scam them on the street? If its the latter Id suggest most of our fraternity of PUA brothers are just as bad!

  2. You’ve been reading Cernovich/Scott Adams recently? [I’ve been reading Mike for years, and Scott for past few months. They didn’t invent social psychology, though. I learned all this stuff at college when I was 17. K.]

    • Heh
      Not suggesting you learned all of this from them – Cialdini got mentioned on the podcast they did together and the book plug at the end is in a style they both use

      Been reading both you and mike for a few years now, generally don’t see much overlap between you

  3. That’s why I feel gutter game is the dark side. The girls most likely will regret it.

    Game done properly is a beautiful sight to behold. Win win (high self esteem guy approaching a beautiful girl and girl feeling it and being moved.)

  4. Old school MM/RSD style game is terrible for your self-esteem. You only have to look at Mystery to see how screwed up he is as a person. He’s a member in a FB group i’m in and all he does is bitch and moan about things that an ordinary chode would literally shrug his shoulders at.

    Case in point, I’ve fucked about 8 girls now due to the social-proof i’ve acquired from knowing how to dance well. None of the girls really cared who I was and were simply attracted to the false image they built up of me by watching me dance. Even though we had sex, it didn’t stop the nagging feeling that neither of them really knew who I really was outside all of that shininess. This is no different to the social circle rubbish where you rock up to a bar with 10 girls on your arms. The same bullshit applies.

    It’s the reason why the comfort stage of the Daygame model is so important. So many guys get this wrong and focus purely on what to say next and fail to realise that the biggest value you have at your disposal is you. It leads to less flaky numbers and girls coming out on dates who actually like you. No false pretences or bullshit.

    This also refers to women and makeup as well. The purpose of the comfort phase is to essentially demonstrate that you like them for them and not their beauty which is mostly fake anyway.

    People want to know and connect with the real you. Giving away fake value has no value. I ironically discovered this with my email marketing campaigns when I stopped giving away content for free. My open rates soared the minute I swapped that out with giving away personal information. It created instant connection and rapport, which caused them to trust and buy from me.

    • “Old school MM/RSD style game is terrible for your self-esteem. You only have to look at Mystery to see how screwed up he is as a person. He’s a member in a FB group i’m in and all he does is bitch and moan about things that an ordinary chode would literally shrug his shoulders at.”

      Correlation doesn’t equal causation in this case. Mystery has a bad mental-illness, I went on one of his bootcamps and have spoken to him, there’s an odd emptiness about him, he was never well. His lifestyle probably exacerbated this but certainly didn’t cause it. Also, remember that Mystery and those guys were Game V.1. There were tons of mistakes made, but they were the real pioneers, so props to them for that.

  5. It’s funny as I’m just now reading “Influence” once again. I like to reread this book as well as How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie every couple months. Few similar thoughts crossed my mind as this time I was looking for daygame advice. It’s very easy to learn, use and abuse “Click, whirr!” responses and I’ve been in many situations where I knew for sure that the girl will regret giving me her number. I had few thousands of those talks and she was defenseless against my “skills” of forcing a number out of her. That doesn’t make a good lead. While tricks and tools are useful for destroying obstacles along your way, they shouldn’t be used to carve a new one. Advanced daygamer should know when to back off.

    One more thing to add: some hot chicks are in fact skilled like Hare Krishnas as they’re constantly battling off needy guys trying to pick them up. It doesn’t happen often during the day but sometimes it does. And once you set your foot into a club whole dynamic change (and not in your favor). [The biggest weakness with the Influence Weapons of Compliance is that they don’t survive a bubble burst well (i.e. “cooling off”) because then it’s easier for the girl to realise she’s been had. Also, actually fucking for a girl is so hard-wired with gut-feel that the Weapons don’t pass her instinctive smell test and lead to unbeatable LMR. Not every time of course but the would-be Dark Arts seducer will think he’s very clever “influencing” numbers and even dates but isn’t so clever when they all say No in the end. K.]

    • Would you agree if you’re aiming for YHT these dark arts are necessary. We are persuading girls to be attracted to us who would not normally be. If you’re getting LMR and girls leaving you straight after sex it means you got game… Of course you got some inner game to work on, but I think this hard core influence is a period every seducer has to go through. [If the girl knows what she’s getting and that’s what you give her, no problem. Informed consent. Charisma IS value. The birdsong IS value. We aren’t selling a product. The act of the “sale” is part of the product. K.]

  6. Can’t beat good old fashioned charm

  7. I did street charity when I was younger. They teach you incredible amounts of game, most of which comes down to pressuring the sale, assuming the sale, yes ladders, eye contact, leading, fractionation… It’s all the same as game no doubt. They difference from game, is that they want the sale there and then.. Teach you not to take no for an answer or let them check out the website then decide. What’s worse is that when a chugger makes a sale is 2 years of what ever monthly donation you chose gets paid out from the charity to the organisation to you and the managers. In fact if you don’t keep donating for 2 years (they make it incredibly hard to cancel) the charity LOOSES money. I got very good at this but always had guilt about doing it and never felt satisfied or happy with my job, I have only recently found out why thanks to you. Cheers man, and P.S don’t ever donate to chiggers, do it online or give to homeless yourself

  8. When I discovered these biases/tendencies I was hooked.

    Cialdni’s book covers six (consistency, scarcity, social proof, liking, reciprocation, authority).

    Charlie Munger (Warren Buffet’s business partner) progressively added 19 more, bringing the count to 25.

    I’ve summarized Cialdini & Munger here:

    The interesting thing about each of the 25 factors is that they’re “scalable” (I got this word from Krauser’s Mastery), so they’re actually much more widely applicable than they seem at first. They apply to yourself, to other people, to organizations.

    Peter Bevelin’s book Seeking Wisdom combines Cialdini & Munger with a bunch of other sources (including Kahneman and Tversky) to bring the count to 28. He has more thorough analyses of biases in memory (we forget a lot of things), how reward/punishment works (we like steady rewards), etc. all of which are useful in game.

    Regarding the topic of this blog post, reciprocation, Seneca had the quote “think it more important who accepts your favor than what he has accepted.” So this suggests using reciprocity to foster cooperation with good people who share your values. In terms of pick-up, I guess reciprocation would do little to change your underlying value (which determines how things will go), but can be used to make things smoother, when coupled with qualification, IOIs, etc. [Good points. This stuff is all the bread and butter of social psychology. Most of it is in the A-level textbook I studied at college. I wrote a post on how to use Cialdini on yourself. Will publish soon. It’s in the queue. K.]

  9. I read the Cialdini after Tom Torero went over it in his Girlfriend Sequence. He goes over the different persuasion tools and why it should be win win. Btw have you read How To Win Friends and Influence People? [Yep, read it in 2001. Excellent book. But you have to change a lot of it once you’re trying to get laid. I’m not in the business of winning female friends. K.]

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