… a core concept in Communication Skills and Atlas 109

Concept description

Gary Orren identifies scarcity as one of the logos (logical argument) persuasion principles, and scarcity is the second of Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion science.

Orren notes that opportunities seem more valuable when their availability is limited, and that this principle applies to information and ideas, not just commodities.  Therefore:

  • Couch your persuasion argument in terms of what an audience stands to lose, not just in terms of the anticipated benefits (since loss appears to be a more motivating concept than gain).
  • Information that is scarce, new, or exclusive should be stated early in a persuasion message (establishing a strong reason for people to listen).

This leads to the questions:

  • Can I tell my audience something that is scarce, new, or exclusive?
  • Can I help my audience avoid a loss?

Cialdini notes that perceived scarcity will generate demand and, like Orren, suggests that products or services should be described not just in terms of their benefits, but what is unique about them, and what people stand to lose if they do not choose them.


Bridget Beirne, Why the Principle of Scarcity Can Inspire Persuasive Speech Audiences, at, accessed 23 January 2016.

John Fallon, Principle of Scarcity, one-minute YouTube video at, accessed 23 January 2016


Gary Orren, PowerPoint presentation in 2005 to the Mortgage Bankers Association, Persuasion: The Science and Art of Effective Communication, accessed 17 January 2016 and “Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion.” Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin, Secrets from the Science of Persuasion, published on YouTube 26 November 2012, at, accessed 17 January 2016.

Normed topic and synthetic course with which the concept is primarily associated

This concept is primarily associated with the core normed topic Principles of Persuasion and is included in the synthetic course outline Atlas109 Leadership and Communication Skills.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 24 January 2016.

Image: Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin, Secrets from the Science of Persuasion, published on YouTube 26 November 2012, at, accessed 17 January 2016.