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What influences our ability to become persuaded by someone

By David Robson 24 March 2015 Are we all just puppets on a string? Most people would like to assume that they are free agents — their fate lies in their own hands. Without even feeling the tug, we do their bidding — while believing that it was our idea all along. The question is, can we learn to spot those tricks, and how can we use them to our own advantage?

  • Unsurprisingly, that alone has attracted a fair amount of media attention — but it was the next part of the study that was most surprising to Olson, since it shows us just how easily our mind is manipulated;
  • Thinkstock Olson says that magicians will often try to rush their volunteers so they choose the first thing that comes to mind — hopefully the idea that you planted there;
  • View image of This video is no longer available The secret, apparently, is to linger on your chosen card as you riffle through the deck.

As an undergraduate in psychology, he found the new understanding of the mind often chimed with the skills he had learnt with his hobby. One card trick, in particular, captured his imagination as he set about his research.

  1. Whether the strategy could have ever swayed the results of an election in the long term is debatable similarly, the supposed success of subliminal advertising is disputed but it seems likely that other kinds of priming do have some effect on behaviour without you realising it.
  2. There are many ways that can done, from placing something at eye level, to moving something slightly closer to a target.
  3. It is less clear how this might relate to other forms of priming, a subject of long controversy.
  4. Most people would like to assume that they are free agents — their fate lies in their own hands.
  5. Based on the scientific literature, here are four manipulative moves to watch out in your colleagues and friends in everyday life. It involved flicking through a deck in front of an audience member, who is asked to pick a card randomly.

It involved flicking through a deck in front of an audience member, who is asked to pick a card randomly. Unknown to the volunteer, he already worked out which card they would choose, allowing him to reach into his pocket and pluck the exact card they had named — much to the astonishment of the crowd. View image of This video is no longer available The secret, apparently, is to linger on your chosen card as you riffle through the deck.

The hidden tricks of powerful persuasion

Those few extra milliseconds mean that it sticks in the mind, causing the volunteer to pick it when they are pushed for a choice. He already knew he was pretty effective, but the results were truly staggering — Olson managed to direct 103 out of 105 of the participants. Unsurprisingly, that alone has attracted a fair amount of media attention — but it was the next part of the study that was most surprising to Olson, since it shows us just how easily our mind is manipulated.

View image of Touching someone is one trick people use to manipulate Credit: Even more surprisingly, a large proportion went as far as to make up imaginary reasons for their choice. Nor did the specific properties of the cards — the colour or number — seem to make success any less likely.

Despite a strong sense of freedom, our ability to make deliberate decisions may often be an illusion. Consider when you go to a restaurant for a meal. Olson says you are twice as likely to choose from the very top or very bottom of the menu — because those areas first attract your eye.

View image of Playing French music in a supermarket makes you unwittingly buy French wine Thinkstock Credit: Thinkstock Or how about the simple task of choosing wine at the supermarket?

  • View image of Playing French music in a supermarket makes you unwittingly buy French wine Thinkstock Credit;
  • Whether the strategy could have ever swayed the results of an election in the long term is debatable similarly, the supposed success of subliminal advertising is disputed but it seems likely that other kinds of priming do have some effect on behaviour without you realising it;
  • As an undergraduate in psychology, he found the new understanding of the mind often chimed with the skills he had learnt with his hobby;
  • It is less clear how this might relate to other forms of priming, a subject of long controversy;
  • Thinkstock Olson says that magicians will often try to rush their volunteers so they choose the first thing that comes to mind — hopefully the idea that you planted there;
  • View image of This video is no longer available The secret, apparently, is to linger on your chosen card as you riffle through the deck.

Jennifer McKendrick and colleagues at the University of Leicester found that simply playing French or German background music led people to buy wines from those regions. When asked, however, the subjects were completely oblivious to the fact.

  1. View image of Playing French music in a supermarket makes you unwittingly buy French wine Thinkstock Credit. Jennifer McKendrick and colleagues at the University of Leicester found that simply playing French or German background music led people to buy wines from those regions.
  2. It involved flicking through a deck in front of an audience member, who is asked to pick a card randomly. Thinkstock Simply tapping someone on the shoulder, and looking them in the eye, means they are far more open to suggestion.
  3. When asked, however, the subjects were completely oblivious to the fact. The volunteer will look back and think they had been free to make up their mind in their own time.
  4. Those few extra milliseconds mean that it sticks in the mind, causing the volunteer to pick it when they are pushed for a choice. The question is, can we learn to spot those tricks, and how can we use them to our own advantage?
  5. View image of Touching someone is one trick people use to manipulate Credit.

It is less clear how this might relate to other forms of priming, a subject of long controversy. Whether the strategy could have ever swayed the results of an election in the long term is debatable similarly, the supposed success of subliminal advertising is disputed but it seems likely that other kinds of priming do have some effect on behaviour without you realising it.

Based on the scientific literature, here are four manipulative moves to watch out in your colleagues and friends in everyday life: Thinkstock Simply tapping someone on the shoulder, and looking them in the eye, means they are far more open to suggestion.

  • One card trick, in particular, captured his imagination as he set about his research;
  • Based on the scientific literature, here are four manipulative moves to watch out in your colleagues and friends in everyday life;
  • Thinkstock Simply tapping someone on the shoulder, and looking them in the eye, means they are far more open to suggestion;
  • When asked, however, the subjects were completely oblivious to the fact;
  • Jennifer McKendrick and colleagues at the University of Leicester found that simply playing French or German background music led people to buy wines from those regions;
  • It is less clear how this might relate to other forms of priming, a subject of long controversy.

Thinkstock Olson says that magicians will often try to rush their volunteers so they choose the first thing that comes to mind — hopefully the idea that you planted there.

But once they have made their choice, they switch to a more relaxed manner.

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The volunteer will look back and think they had been free to make up their mind in their own time. There are many ways that can done, from placing something at eye level, to moving something slightly closer to a target. For similar reasons, we often end up taking away the first thing offered to us.