In the new series “Mind Games” on ABC, two brothers with a questionable past played by Steve Zahn and Christian Slater open an agency in the business of changing other people’s minds almost sub-consciously. They use body language and other simple psychological strategies to influence situations to benefit their clients and also try to do good in the process.
Episode 2 focuses on exploiting asymmetric dominance in decision theory using a tactic called the decoy effect. It’s a persuasion tactic most often used in advertising (decoy marketing) to influence consumer behavior and choice. But, in this storyline, it’s used to ensure the most qualified candidate at a corporation gets the job of CEO as opposed to the best looking candidate which the board thinks will help stock prices.
This episode focuses on the fact that the part of the brain that has the most weight in decision making is out of your control. It’s the primitive part of the brain and will win every time over logic especially with snap decisions.
It’s a bit hard to elegantly explain. In the show there were 2 candidates for a CEO job: one old and experienced, the other young and good looking. The team at Edwards and Associates devised a way to get a decoy candidate into the interview race. This decoy was also old, but not qualified. But with 2 old people, this made the young person seem like an inferior outlier. Our natural tendency is to then choose the most qualified of the old people. The Wikipedia entry on the decoy effect explains the details using a price related example.
Here is a summary of the other tactics and concepts related to body language and asymmetric dominance in the show and what I think about it as a body language and persuasion expert:
- Create a bond with others by focusing on commonalities. In this case one of the characters lied about where they were from to connect with someone else. Lying is never good. Stick to other commonalities to create a positive connection.
- Taller people minimize shorter people. It’s our natural tendency to give more authority to tall people. If you’re trying to look important, make sure you’re the tallest person in the vicinity.
- Guys make decisions based on sexual displays. When men see an attractive lady (maybe she’s even wearing red to boost her sexuality) their testosterone spikes. They’ll revert to more primal settings in their brain and use less logic to make decisions. They’re much more easily convinced during these times. So ladies, yes, you can get lots more of what you want from men when you’re looking sexy!
- Information that rhymes is more persuasive. In this episode they used the line ‘You’ve got to be bold to get the gold’ and repeated it several times, making the decoy candidate believe he could win. It’s very similar to the OJ Simpson trial’s tag phrase ‘If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit’. Maybe you don’t have a rhyming phrase for every situation. But you can use rhythmic speech patterns and tonality. They’re the basis of hypnosis!
- Confidence Priming is more effective than win/lose scenarios. Pumping someone up for a certain decision or event will work better for their motivation than to have them compare the benefits of winning vs losing. So when persuading anyone, build up their confidence and avoid the details of victory and defeat.
Want to know more? Get your copy of the Mastering Magical Persuasion e-book and video. And when you really want to dive deep, hire me to train your company team or association. In no time at all, you’ll be starring in your own episode of Mind Games—and getting lots more of what you want. The good thing is that it won’t be on TV, it will be your life!
And be sure to watch Mind Games. You’ll learn lots. Just click here: