The hidden tricks of persuasion practiced on us
Do we always control our minds? BBC journalist David Robson reveals that it is easy to plant ideas in people’s minds without even realizing it.
Are we always just dolls tied with strings? Most people tend to believe that they are free to make their own choices and that they decide their own destiny, but they seem to be wrong.
Often, we are like helpless puppets, move according to the will and influence of another person or people, and then carry out their will without realizing it, and we believe that we implement our ideas.
Jay Olson of McGill University in Canada conducted a brilliant experiment recently that revealed the ease with which we are manipulated with the easiest persuasion.
“What we discover little by little in psychology is that many of the decisions we make are influenced by things we do not realize,” Olson says.
The question remains, can we learn to recognize these scams, and how can we use them to our advantage?
Olson has spent his life studying subtle ways to deceive people, and it all starts with magic.
“I started magic tricks when I was five years old, and I became a container when I was seven,” he says.
As a holder of an associate degree in psychology, Olson concluded that a new understanding of the mind corresponds to the skills learned through his hobbies.
A deck of cards or number cards in particular caught his imagination when he began his research.
This trick is based on asking an audience member to choose a card randomly from among the cards that he distributes on a table in front of everyone.
Without the knowledge of the volunteer, he would have decided and predetermined which card this volunteer would choose, and then allowed him to put his hand in his pocket and pull out that exact card that he mentioned, in front of the astonishment of the attendees.
The secret, as it seems, is to keep the card you have chosen while the cards are dealt on the table. In our conversation with him, Olson did not reveal how he did this, but others said that turning the card very lightly made it stick in the eyes of the follower.
Those split seconds meant that the card was stuck in the volunteer’s mind, which made him choose it when asked.
As a scientist, Olson’s first task was to formally test his level of success, knowing his effect was effective, but the results were truly amazing, as he was able to control the direction of selecting 103 out of 105 participants.
It is not surprising that this alone garnered great attention from the media, but the next part of the study was more surprising, as it showed us the infinite ease with which our minds can be manipulated.
For example, when he asked the volunteers later, he was stunned to learn that 92 percent of them had no idea that they had been deceived and were convinced that they were in complete control of their decisions, but what was even more strange, was that a large proportion of them showed Various reasons to justify their choices.
Olson says: “One of the volunteers said: I chose the paper that bears the number 10 from among the papers that bear the drawing of hearts, because 10 is a large number, and I was thinking about the cards on which I drew hearts before the experiment began,” although Olson is in fact Who made the decision?
Moreover, Olson found that personal nature has little to no effect on how a given person’s decisions or mind can be manipulated.
All human beings are equal in their ability to be deceived, and there was no role for the number or color on the card in determining the choice.
If you can’t believe what he says, consider going to a restaurant for a meal. Olson says there’s a good chance you’ll pick the meal you want either from the top or the bottom of the list because those areas are the first thing that catches your eye.
But if someone asks why you chose salmon, for example, you will tell them that you have an open appetite for salmon. You will not tell him that the name of the meal was at the top of the list and therefore it was the first name that your eyes fell upon, in other words, we resort to creating an imagined narration to explain the reason for our decisions.
Jennifer McKendrick and her colleagues at the University of Leicester concluded that the supermarket shoppers’ listening to German or French music is a reason for them to choose wine made in one of these two countries without another, but when these shoppers were asked why they chose, the justifications they gave were completely different from the truth.
It is not entirely clear how this hidden persuasion might be related to other forms of mental preparation. In the 2000 elections in the United States, for example, supporters of candidate Al Gore claimed that Republicans had unintentionally exploited the word “rats” in an advertisement in support of their Democratic candidate (the last three letters of the word Democrats only appeared in part of the ad, but they were It fills the screen, and these three letters mean the word mice.)
Supporters of Al Gore believed that the distorted message about their candidate would distance him from voters and lead to his loss.
Drew Westin of Emory University concluded that the ad with that word had already hurt Al Gore’s campaign and led to a drop in his support.
There is evidence that offering someone a hot drink makes you seem a warmer person, or that inhaling a foul smell makes you feel disgusted and pushes you to judge people more harshly.
How do you know manipulation?
This type of knowledge can be exploited by some to coerce others, so it is useful to know how others are trying to submit to their will without you being aware of it.
Based on scientific studies, here are four methods of manipulation that you should warn of friends and colleagues every day:
1- The touch may affect strongly
If you patted someone on your shoulder and looked directly into your eyes, this might mean that you are more open to accepting suggestions. Olson used this method in his tricks, and it was also effective in everyday practices like persuading people to borrow from banks or financial institutions.
2- Speed of speech is important
Olson says that talismans or magicians try to push the volunteers to speed up their decision-making so that they can choose the first thing that comes to their minds that will be the same idea that Al Hawi instilled in the volunteer’s mind.
Once they lead the volunteer to make the decision they want, they return to behaving in a way that is relaxed and in no hurry. As for the volunteer, when he recovers what happened, he believes that he was free to make his decision that he thought about carefully.
3- Beware of the field of vision
Olson made the card he chose more prominently in front of the volunteer to cling to his mind without feeling it and there are several ways to do this, including placing something at the visual level or moving something lightly near the target, and for similar reasons, you find us always choosing the first thing presented to us.
4- Certain questions suggest specific ideas
Certain questions may prompt you to make a specific choice. For example, “Why do you think this would be a good idea?” Or “What do you think the positives would be?” It sounds obvious, but letting people convince themselves will mean that they will be confident in their decisions in the long run, as if the idea originally stemmed from them.
We may all be puppets driven by invisible strings, but if we realize who is driving those strings, we may be able to avoid falling into his trap.
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