A quick way to manipulate people

Illustration for article titled A quick way to manipulate people

What's the best way to get people to do what you want them to do? Make them believe that they're the kind of person who would do what you want to do.

If you've ever shouldered your way past a clipboard person on the sidewalk, you may want to beware one particular tactic. If I had a clipboard, I would use it. And why shouldn't I? It's effective. In a study done in 1980, it was a way to get follow-through on an promise from a measly 4% to upwards of 90%. What made such a robust difference? The preservation of self-image.

Steven Sherman, a psychologist, gave people a call. He told people he wanted them to show up and work for a pledge drive to raise money for cancer research. Since no one likes cancer, many people said they'd show up to work at a certain time. About 4% of those who agreed actually did.


He made another round of calls. This time, he asked people simply if they were the type of person who would donate their time if they were asked to. Nearly all the people who said yes showed up.

We've all had people trap us in awkward moments and semi-extort behavior from us. This experiment wasn't quite the same thing. The people had time between the phone call and the start time of the event. They didn't have to face anyone and make up an excuse — they could have just not come. The first group managed it just fine. But the first group had specific parameters and could come up with specific objections to them. The second group, the manipulated group, told themselves that they were the type of person who would go, and to sustain that view of themselves, they had to go.

So if you're trying to manipulate someone into doing your bidding, just convince them that they are the type of compassionate/responsible/wild/rebellious/perceptive person who would do just that. Then give them an opportunity to prove it.

Top Image: Takkk

[Via You Are Not So Smart]


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Lifehacker often holds an "Evil" week describing less than scrupulous tricks (often so you can avoid having them used on you); This article would definitely fall right in there.