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Social engineering relies heavily on the six principles of influence established in Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion:

•  Reciprocity – People tend to return a favor, hence the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing.

•  Commitment and consistency – If people commit to an idea or goal (orally or in writing), they are more likely to honor that commitment because it’s now congruent with their self-image. Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already committed, people will continue to honor the agreement.

•  Social proof – People will do things that they see others doing.

•  Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they’re asked by those figures to perform objectionable acts.

•  Liking – People are easily persuaded by others that they like.

•  Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, by saying offers are available for a "limited time only," retailers encourage sales.

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