Dale Carnegie was the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills. He was the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), a massive bestseller that remains popular today.

The thesis explained in the book are really well synthesized in the Wikipedia page.

Don't criticize, condemn, or complain. Give honest and sincere appreciation. Smile. Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. Talk in terms of the other person's interest. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

The strategies don't talk about telling the truth, presenting rational arguments, and citing the sources.

Cognitive Psychology explains the reasons behind this:

  • Confirmation bias
  • Backfire Effect
  • self-serving bias
  • Rationalization
  • Cognitive dissonance

All of these terms suggest that changing people's ideas requires an effort in a direction that is not rational.


  • Why is it hard to change other's people beliefs?
  • Is it true that marketing strategies are more effective than rational argument in changing other's beliefs?

Refer also to:

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. My original question remains: Why would one (without using some marketing technique) follow from the other (people's idea's cannot be changed easily)? Seems like a very bad logical argument to me. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Mar 13 '14 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by saying: Why would one follow from the other? $\endgroup$ – Revious Mar 13 '14 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ How do you motivate that only 'some marketing technique' could change people's ideas? To examplify, why does this question make more sense than "Is it possible to state that is hard to help people to 'improve' themselves without using a donkey tied to a chain which performs tricks for them?" $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Mar 13 '14 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris: I will try to improve the question, but I'm not a psychologist. I've read Dale Carnegie - How to win friends and influence people. And the concept that cognitive psychology seems to suggest is the ineffectiveness of the truth.. maybe I've understood how to modify the question. $\endgroup$ – Revious Mar 13 '14 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, citing the source is preferable to simply linking to it. That may reflect conventions that haven't yet adjusted to the internet era though. Interesting that <10% would be acceptable in your country...In mine, any sufficiently distinct content that is copied directly without citation is plagiarized, technically. I think the word has a harsher connotation than it should though (I know you weren't trying to take credit for the copied content). Thanks for the edit. $\endgroup$ – Nick Stauner Mar 14 '14 at 9:57


The question is like a tautology - ALL effective ways of changing people's beliefs would automatically be valid marketing techniques, pretty much by definition. Marketing is not a subset of all possible techniques, it's a discipline on using all those for the specific purpose of marketing goods/services.

Rational argument is also a classic marketing technique, in areas where you have a clear rational advantage over your competitors, you want to nudge customers to situations and environments where they would not be 'thinking emotionally', hear your rational argument clearly, and thus choose the way you want them to.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for you answer! My real question could be something like: is it sad that trying to help people is not effective unless you use "effective ways of changing people's beliefs"? This is not making the way easy for those who want to exploit people? Is it meaning that people are stupid or better say ignorant? But I fear I cannot ask it in this way... $\endgroup$ – Revious Mar 14 '14 at 13:08

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