Review of Three Powerful Books on Persuasion. Don't Get Taken! Steiner Wide-Awake Books These books could save some readers lots of money, grief, and time. I look at them as books on self-defense and liberation. They teach invaluable lessons about the manipulative techniques of salespersons, motivators, political and religious leaders, cult recruiters, phony psychics and healers, and the many frauds who are trying to pick our pockets while promising to empower us.
Robert Levine's The Power of Persuasion explains how people persuade other people to do or believe just about anything, from buying Tupperware to joining a cult. Levine is a social psychologist who, along with some of his students, went undercover to detail the methods used by sales people, cult recruiters, and mentalists.
Their field research brings to life a number of theories about manipulation. One lesson I learned from Levine is that if a good-looking, sharp-dressing doctor who exudes great self-confidence and drives a fancy car offers me a ride while making direct eye contact, I shouldn't get in. I should turn off the television or stop daydreaming. According to Levine, "it seems that most [persuaders] are reading from the same manual" 3. The most important factor in most persuasion isn't the message, but the person doing the persuading and how he or she presents the message. Research also shows that Americans identify authority not only with titles, but also with clothes and luxury cars Furthermore, if a person is physically attractive, we tend to like that person and the more we like a person the more we tend to trust him or her Research also show that "people are perceived as more credible when they make eye contact and speak with confidence, no matter what they have to say" While the persuaders may have much in common, the same is not true about us, the persuaded.
There is no trait or set of traits by which the persuaded can be identified. Levine reinforces Bob Steiner's message: anybody can get taken, even you. Research has failed to find a common thread even among people who join cults. According to Levine, "studies have uncovered surprisingly little commonality in the type of personality that joins cults: there's no single cult-prone personality type" This fact surprised Levine. When he began his investigation of cults he "shared the common stereotype that most joiners were psychological misfits or religious fanatics" What he found instead was that many cult members are attracted to what appears to be a loving community.
Levine devotes an entire chapter to the Jonestown cult and has this to say about Jim Jones: He was "a supersalesman who exerted most every rule of persuasion in this book" He had authority, honesty remember, perception is reality in the art of persuasion , and likeability. Levine's book is about much more than just cults. He discusses the psychology of persuasion based on the triad of the source , the target , and the context. What characteristics does the source have? What is the mind-set of the target person? What is the psychological context within which the communication occurs?
One common factor in the context is self-deception. Most of us have an illusion of invulnerability the subject of chapter one. We think we're at less risk for being duped than others. We also tend to think that other people who are suckered lack character. But if it is ourselves who are suckered we blame it on the situation. He calls the creation of context "the art form of persuasion professionals. Part of the book is devoted to cultural hot buttons. For example, some cultures encourage individuality and independence, others have collectivist values.
Thus, in some cultures "showing a person alone implies that he has no identity and no friends, that he doesn't belong. In these cultures, where the predominant goal of social behavior is to maintain the appearance of harmony, to scrutinize another person's ideas is to criticized the character of the person voicing it. One way traditional Chinese and Japanese cultures have preserved harmony is by encouraging the belief that there's truth to any argument, even opposing arguments" This has promoted a "tradition of moderation and tolerance in daily life" in those cultures, according to Levine.
The chapter I found most interesting was "The Contrast Principle" ch. It is "remarkably malleable. I could relate Levine's message to my own experience. When I was looking for a digital camera, I compared prices and features of several brands and models. I had a price range in mind based on what my daughter had spent on her digital camera. She does a lot more photography than I do and is more digitally literate so I guess it should not have surprised me that I ended up buying the same make and model that she had. When about two months later I saw the same camera for sale for about two hundred dollars less than what I had paid, the camera didn't seem like such a good deal anymore.
When my daughter upgraded to another model with better features for less than what I had paid for my camera, it became even less attractive.
To drive home his point about anchor points, Levine poses a little quiz. He's either a salesman or a librarian. Which one do you think he is? Because that answer fits their stereotype of a librarian. The ratio of male salesman to male librarians is about to 1. Levine says "there's only a 1 percent chance he'd be a librarian. And while we wouldn't expect one to know the percentage of meek salesmen, we would expect them to realize that such people would be a small minority.
Thus, if you weren't told anything more about Harper than his sex, you should guess that he's most likely a salesman. The personality data provide evidence against this hypothesis, but they don't seem to outweigh the gender data. We often have to make decisions based on incomplete and inadequate data.
This little exercise should teach us that it can be helpful to separate the data in order to evaluate it change the anchor points or frame of reference. Another interesting topic Levine addresses is the law of reciprocity there is no free lunch , which he calls "the moral memory of humankind" We've all received a pack of greeting cards from some charitable organization. No obligation. You can keep the cards, even if you don't buy any.
Or, come on up and get your free microwave. Just let us tell you about our time-share program. The Japanese practice of giri takes this law to the extreme. One question I was hoping Levine would answer is "how can hundreds, thousands, even millions of people be persuaded to believe in delusions.
You would not eat a Big Mac and fries and wash it down with a chocolate shake or giant cola if within minutes you gained pounds. But many people will eat such meals over a or year period and gain pounds. Because it happens gradually. Nobody would smoke a cigarette if lung cancer or emphysema resulted as quickly as, say, the effects of radiation like that at ground zero in Chernobyl. Likewise, nobody would join a cult if the pitch were: "Here. Drink this poisoned Kool-Aid and commit suicide. Can another Hitler arise? Of course. Another Holocaust? Without a doubt. I watched the CBS miniseries " Hitler: The Rise of Evil " and shook my head at the end when I had the thought that one very persuasive psychotic paranoid was responsible for the deaths of nearly 50 million people.
Had Hitler in Mein Kampf called for concentration camps, human experimentation, poison gas ovens, and incineration to exterminate the Jews and homosexuals and Catholics, etc. It took several years of escalating the violence against the Jews to get from traditional, barnyard variety anti-Semitism to the Final Solution. I also wanted Levine to explain why it is so easy to persuade some people to continue believing in a delusion after it's been exposed.
Why is it that, for some people, nothing succeeds like failure? She claimed to get messages from extraterrestrials known as The Guardians.
Like the Heaven's Gate folks, Keech and her followers, known as The Seekers or The Brotherhood of the Seven Rays, were waiting to be picked up by flying saucers just before the earth was to be destroyed by a massive flood on December 21, When it became evident that the Guardians weren't stopping by to pick them up, Keech. She said she'd just received a telepathic message from the Guardians saying that her group of believers had spread so much light with their unflagging faith that God had spared the world from the cataclysm The Seekers didn't abandon her.
They became more devoted after the failed prophecy. Being wrong turned them into true believers. People will go to bizarre lengths to avoid inconsistency between their cherished beliefs and the facts. But I still don't understand why some people would rather change the facts than their beliefs. Furthermore, if this kind of aberrant thinking is common, then it is pointless to produce evidence in the course of trying to persuade some people of the error of their ways. Some people will always be clever enough to come up with an ad hoc hypothesis to save their cherished notions. In addition to explaining various ways to manipulate and control others, Levine offers some advice on how to build up one's defenses against professional manipulators.
For example, he describes one exercise where students go through an experience of meeting a persuasive professional in real time. Later, they analyze the tactics used against them and consider what they might say if they had it to do over again. The exercise strengthens resistance. He also notes that getting direct and unambiguous feedback when we've done something wrong teaches a powerful lesson.
I could go on, but I think I'll stop and just recommend that you read this book if you are at all interested in how to persuade others and reduce your own chances of being manipulated. Maybe you're in sales and want to improve your chances of success. This book will tell you how. It will tell you what works and what doesn't, and it will tell you why. This book could even be your start toward a new career in consumer or retail anthropology. No matter who we are or how smart we think we are, we are vulnerable to the snares of the con man.
It's not because we're greedy or stupid. It's because we are trusting. It behooves us to discover why we trust certain people and not others.
He has published two novels, "Delusion" and "North Of Likely," which comprise a two-part series. His great uncle, on his mother's side--by marriage, not by blood--is in baseball's Hall of Fame. His mother was an ER nurse and community theater actress. His father was a nuclear submarine design engineer. He has published poetry in myriad literary reviews, most recently in, "Eternal Haunted Summer," spring and summer issues.
He has published short erotic stories and an excerpt of his first novel, "Delusion," in, "Gallery Magazine. The hero of, "North of Likely," is a supporting character in, "Delusion. One could say the two part series tells the , word story of Secret Service agent, Bob Taggart, who evolves into the criminal, John Taylor, before realizing his fateful end, following the parameters of the Hero's Journey.
He is also crafting his third crime novel, "The Black Pearl Necklace," starring, James Whitecarol--the junky, dumpster-diving, defective detective who lives in his office in San Francisco's Tenderloin. The novel features a very unusual character who shares narration: a priceless, 18th century necklace strung from uncultured black pearls and round, gem-cut diamonds.
The mysterious, one-of-a-kind, inanimate object lends the sardonic, transcendent, omnicient view of things, in succinct spacer chapters, strung into the novel like the diamonds in between the raw black pearls. She is his mind's eye model for the female protagonist of the same first name in, "The Black Pearl Necklace. Aker: crimewriter34 yahoo.
What's the story behind your latest book? He looks at the way such organizations function as a defence against unbearable guilt and describes the mechanism by which fragmentation of the personality can be reversed so the lost parts of the self can be regained and reintegrated in to the personality. Psychic Retreats is written with the practising psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists in mind.
The emphasis is therefore clinical throughout the book, which concludes with a chapter on the technical problems which arise in the treatment of such severely ill patients. Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions x x Other books in this series. Psychic Retreats John Steiner. Add to basket. Seeing and Being Seen John Steiner. Reclaiming Unlived Life Thomas Ogden.
The Dead Mother Gregorio Kohon. Rediscovering Psychoanalysis Thomas H. This Art of Psychoanalysis Thomas H. Donald Winnicott Today Jan Abram. Impasse and Interpretation Herbert A. Projective Identification Elizabeth Spillius. Belief and Imagination Ronald Britton. The Psychotic Wavelength Richard Lucas. Bion Today Chris Mawson. Table of contents A Theory of Psychic Retreats. Psychic Retreats. The Paranoid-schizoid and Depressive Positions.