Sunday, December 28, 2008

Influence & Persuasion

Watched an interesting documentary last night:  Foolproof Equations for a Perfect Life.  The title was a fib, but it was a good overview of some brain research into decision-making.  (The weakest segment was the last 'act' which spent too long looking at TopGun pilots, for too little information payoff.)

One section discussed ways we are influenced or "primed" by circumstances.  This works because of the ways our brains are wired to collect information.  An article about the research discussed in the documentary is available here.

Another discussed the benefit (if any) of making conscious our pros & cons when considering different choices.

There was also some discussion of the role of emotions in decision-making.  An article about this research is here.  I've come across this research by Antonio Damasio, author of The Feeling of What Happens, Descartes' Error, and Looking for Spinoza

Which reminded me of other books/tv shows on influence:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.  Run, don't walk, to your library or book store to secure your copy.  He lists 7 common forms of persuasion.

The Guerrilla Marketing Revolution by Jay Conrad Levinson & Paul R. J. Hanley.  I found this interesting, but a little repugnant in places.  The authors try to downplay the manipulative aspect of the priming they recommend, but still... it could be used that way.  That said, I did find some interesting ideas in this book.  Consistency of behaviour, and highly ethical behaviour were strongly promoted.  The section about beauty and layout was particularly interesting, given my background in design.

Also another documentary by Dr John Marsden, of Body Hits fame:  Exposed, Persuaders.  I missed this documentary when it was on a couple of weeks back, so if anyone happened to record it, I would be glad to get access...  

Brains & brain research are a bit of a hobby of mine.  As is anything about the well-springs of human behaviour.