… a core concept in Communication Skills and Atlas 109

Concept description

Gary Orren identifies liking (and association) as the second most important in the ethos (characteristics of messenger) cluster of persuasion principles, and liking is the fifth of Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion science.

Orren and Cialdini note that we are more likely to be influenced by people we know and like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called viral marketing. People were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them.

Cialdini says there are three important factors in determining who we like:

  1. people who are similar to us
  2. people who pay us compliments
  3. people who cooperate with us

and provides examples of how to use these factors in persuasion.

Orren says we like people who are positive, respectful, appreciative and empathetic. He links likeability and empathy in the question:

  • Are you liked? That is, do you like others?

Orren provides examples of applying the liking/association principle in framing by connecting a person, product or idea to something we feel positive about. He says:

  • Either you frame your issue, or you get framed.

In applying the principle to public speaking, he stresses the importance of distinguishing genuine praise and complements from mere flattery. He suggests that speakers consider two questions:

  • What genuinely admirable qualities does my audience have?
  • Is there a genuine similarity between me and my audience?

Orren also notes that, contrary to the common understanding, assertiveness and likeability and are not two ends of the same dimension, but rather two dimensions (see Assertiveness and Likeability).


Vanessa Van Edwards, 5 Habits of Exceptionally Charismatic People, 6-minute YouTube video at, accessed 3 February 2016.

John Fallon, The Principle of Liking, one-minute YouTube video at, accessed 23 January 2016.

Edward McBeth, Secrets of likeability and power! at, accessed 23 January 2016.

Bridget Beirne, How to Increase Your “Likability” to Benefit Persuasive Speech Topics, at, accessed 23 January 2016.

Active Presence, Likeability – Methods of Influence for Persuasive Presentations, 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 Practices of Persuasion and is included in the synthetic course outline Atlas109 Leadership and Communication Skills.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 10 October 2016.

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