Mangoo's Reviews > Flipnosis: The Art of Split-Second Persuasion

Flipnosis by Kevin Dutton
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Apr 27, 2011

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Read in April, 2011

An enjoyable, if a bit unfocused and not optimally organized, review of recent and classic findings on persuasion techniques, particularly on those inducing instantaneous change in one's view and feelings.
The text is filled with anecdotes and stories about persuasion masters who could solve situations and change one's mind by subtle inputs. Dutton's text is thus yet another one on the topic, which is rather establised now yet preserves all its unnerving and disillusioning charm. Personally, most of the interest in this field is the knowledge that the human brain is entwined into a dense web of intrinsic behaviors and schemata which normally can bypass rational logic and this underlie all our actions. This may lead directly to issues on free will of Schopenauerian taste. Key stimuli activate fixed action patterns beyond the grasp and the comprehension of the victim.
Dutton presents the stuff in ascending order of power, and arrives at a concise formula (SPICE = simplicity, perceived self-interest, incongruity, confidence, empathy) that links all most effective persuasion techniques. Not what you say, but HOW you say it is (most) important. What is interesting is then the presentation of psycopaths as natural-born persuaders, and the ideas on the limits of persuasions (the mirror man, cognitive dissonance, change in behavior biases) as supported by recent fMRI and clinical studies.
Gnoseologically, I believe one cannot make it without being at least aware of the brain's pressure points, and how context, peer and environment pressure, modality of approach, sentiments and emotions affects our instantaneous view of the world. This applies in general, but Dutton's book, while updated and well supported by studies, lacks some focus (e.g., some basic ideas such as framing, anchoring, and so on are introduced along without sufficient emphasis, as compared to e.g. Taleb's texts).
Still, an interesting read.
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