“The brain, is the most complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe”. That quote is from James D. Watson, a Nobel prize winner and a renowned biologist. Our brain is remarkably complex. Its prodigious convolution makes me more perplexed every time I tried to learn it.
Alongside its complexity, one thing that is fascinating about our brain is how vulnerable it is to manipulation. I have made a wide array of posts about this subject, especially under “Mind” category. Nevertheless, I think that this topic about brain’s vulnerability needs a proper post. So here it is the top psychological tricks that people can exploit out of you :
COPY MACHINE STUDY
Foremost, we start of something that is so simple yet excessively powerful which is the word “because”. In a study by Ellen Langer, she sought a library copying machine that was queued by multiple people with the intention of cutting the line. However, there are 3 choices of action when she was looking at the person that she about to cut his/her line.
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” She made her request without any reason or justification.
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” This time she made a request with real and defined reason.
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies? Now she made a request with a fake and absurd reason.
What do you think the percentages of the outcomes which she is granted to cut his/her line and use the photocopier machine? Astoundingly, action 1 yield 60% of people let she skip the line. While action 3 yield a staggering 93% of people let she skip the line. The gap between action 3 (absurd and fake reason) and action 2 (defined and real reason) is only 1%. That makes the percentage for action 3 is 94%.
FOOT IN THE DOOR
Subsequently, the second trick that can be used is foot in the door technique. Essentially, FITD works by asking a small favor first, after the first minor favor is granted, start to asking a bigger favor. If we use this trick gradually, we could get more yeses even though it’s a bigger request.
This is because we prone to feel involved after interacts with someone. Another reason is because as a human, we like to prove that we are a type of person who really wants to help, therefore we want to be consistent even though the requests are gradually bigger than the last.
For example, a salesman that you met in a shopping mall may ask you for your phone number (small favor) so he could contact you. After he gets your phone number, he maybe will contact you and ask you to visit their website and fill out a survey (medium favor). At some point, you will feel more involved and finally, the salesman will ask you to buy their product (big favor).
DOOR IN THE FACE
This method is counter-intuitive with foot in the door technique that we previously discussed. This technique starts with asking an unrealistic and big favor that the person will most likely decline. Then start to ask a realistic favor that you really intend to ask.
The logical reason for this phenomenon is because of the power of guilt. After rejecting the first request we will feel guilty, therefore the guilty feeling becomes the number one driver/motivator to comply with the request with a purpose which is to reduce the guilt. Also, the second request will seem way more reasonable than the first one, hence he/she will grant your second request.
To recapitulate this fascinating topic about mind control tricks, there are 2 main ways that you could execute to manipulate someone. Door in the face and Foot in the door. Both are using a “decay” request so that will helps the real intention of request to be compiled. These are the illustration to help visualize the technique :
While you could choose one of 2 technique, you can also use “because” to enhance the probability just like what we discussed earlier. So with combining both of those techniques, we could have the ultimate ways to control someone’s mind to agree with our request.
A little disclaimer before I end this post. Please use these techniques ethically. The main reason I want to make this post is so we could recognize if someone is using it on us. So we could be less influenced.
REFERENCES AND SUPPORTING ARTICLES
James Clear. (2018, June 14). Why We Act Irrationally: A Harvard Psychologist Reveals the One Word That Drives Our Senseless Habits. Retrieved from https://jamesclear.com/copy-machine-study
James D. Watson Quote. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.azquotes.com/quote/1102486
James Watson – Biographical. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1962/watson-bio.html
Patel, N. (2014, October 13). Foot-In-The-Door Technique: How To Get People To Seamlessly Take Action. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2014/10/13/foot-in-the-door-technique-how-to-get-people-to-take-seamlessly-take-action/
Waude, A. (2017, February 06). The Door-in-the-Face Technique: Persuading People To Agree To Requests. Retrieved from https://www.psychologistworld.com/behavior/compliance/strategies/door-in-the-face-technique