Persuasive giving

Editor's note: This story was originally published in the ASU Foundation's Impact Magazine. Read the full version here.

Professor Emeritus of Marketing and Psychology Robert Cialdini recalls a trip to the Netherlands 15 years ago to speak at a government policy conference and being introduced as a behavioral economist. He told the organizer he wasn’t an economist, but a professor in the psychology and marketing departments at ASU. His host said, “I know. But I couldn’t have gotten you approved by my superior with those labels.”

That’s all changed, Cialdini says. “All kinds of government units, all kinds of institutions within our society are taking into account what behavioral science has afforded them as a way to increase the outcomes of their persuasion campaigns.”

Cialdini, a best-selling author, in-demand speaker, and creator and supporter, along with his wife, Bobette Gorden, of the Robert B. Cialdini Behavioral Research Lab that bears his name.

“We wanted to support an environment where faculty members and students in the ASU marketing department could make important contributions to knowledge,” Cialdini says, “where students could learn the best practices for conducting experiments and test the ideas they found most fascinating.”

Cialdini and Gorden also donated to the Leap Forward Fund, an initiative in the ASU Department of Psychology. “I wanted to do something for the psychology department to allow it to move forward in a way that it couldn’t without an additional source of funding,” he says, “to burnish their already strong reputation by taking chances on big projects.” Those projects include a success center for undergraduates, and an educational program addressing problematic alcohol use among college students.



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