William D. Crano ’64 (Photo: Mathieu Young Photography)
New book: The Rules of Influence: Winning When You’re in the Minority, by William D. Crano ’64 (St. Martin’s Press)
The author: A psychology professor at Claremont Graduate University, Crano is an expert in the field of social influence — particularly the impact minorities have on the beliefs and actions of the majority. He also researches drug prevention and recently was named by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime to serve on a committee that will develop global drug-prevention standards.
The book: The author looks at how the “weak influence the strong [and] how the minority changes the majority” and provides guidance for persuading other people of your opinion when you don’t have the power in a relationship. Crano outlines “rules of influence” — including the need to be persistent, consistent, unanimous, and flexible — that will “help you win when you don’t control the game.”
Opening lines: “Anyone can be influential if they carry a big enough stick. Al Capone was right when he said, ‘You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a gun.’ Al’s observation points to a problem with what we know about persuasion and social influence, which is that much of our understanding is based on studies in which the influencer controls both the smile and the gun. … More exciting are those clashes in which the individual or group without any obvious clout tries and succeeds in changing the beliefs of a more powerful opponent.”
Reviews: “Crano lays out a set of effective rules of engagement for alternative thinkers that involves working from the inside, being persistent, staying on message, being flexible, and other strategies to give the little guy a chance for his voice to be heard,” wrote a critic for Booklist. A reviewer for Kirkus Reviews noted,“The author succeeds in explaining the concepts and studies in a manner accessible even to readers with no prior knowledge of social psychology, and he cites abundant examples of the success of his proposed rules from history and politics.”