Flipnosis Book Summary - Flipnosis Book explained in key points
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Flipnosis summary

Kevin Dutton

The Art of Split-Second Persuasion

4.4 (86 ratings)
17 mins
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    An instinct for persuasion

    There’s something about the Job Centre that brings out the worst in people. Many employees leave after just a few months, worn down by regular threats and acts of violence from angry and frustrated job seekers. Fire extinguishers are known to have been thrown against the protective plexiglass. One customer even pulled a gun.

    Marco, on the other hand, has worked at the Job Centre for over two years and hasn’t once been attacked. He even sits out in the open, dealing with people face to face, completely unprotected. There’s just something about him that persuades even the craziest person to relax in his presence.

    What’s his secret?

    To answer this, we can look to the animal kingdom. Animals are extremely good at persuading their own, and sometimes other species, at an instinctual level. Ever heard a cat’s urgent yet contented purr and been unable to resist giving it a scratch? How about Golden Orb spiders which spin a web the exact color that bees are drawn to?

    These automatic, primal persuasive triggers are called key stimuli, and once known, they can be used to your advantage. Architects have used silhouettes of predator birds to “persuade” real birds not to fly into windows, for example.

    In advertising, there are a lot of synthesized key stimuli – models with exaggerated hips, breasts, abs, or other sexual features persuade people to buy products without a second thought. Sex sells, after all.

    So, how does Marco use a key stimulus to persuade the Job Centre customers to treat him with respect? Simple. He sits on his hands.

    This simple gesture of submission – combined with a touch of empathy and confidence – serves to appease the threat and defuse any conflict. Is someone really going to throw a fire extinguisher at a guy who’s sitting on his hands?

    This is persuasion in its purest and most natural form. Songbirds warble to attract mates. Spiders spin colorful webs to catch food. Marco sits on his hands to pacify angry job seekers.

    Using key stimuli comes easily to animals. They don’t need to plan anything or think about what they’re doing. Humans start out great at this – babies, by necessity, come into the world with an innate ability to persuade others to take care of them. But this is lost as language and consciousness develop.

    But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a few tricks about persuasion.

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    What is Flipnosis about?

    Flipnosis (2010) looks at the role of persuasion in our lives, and the social and biological underpinnings that allow some people to quickly and successfully encourage and convince those around them. By examining the science and looking at real-world master persuaders – from magicians and advertisers to criminals and psychopaths – you too can tap into the art of persuasion.

    Who should read Flipnosis?

    • Would-be social engineers, looking for a few tricks to improve their influence
    • Free-thinkers who want to make sure that their choices are, in fact, their own
    • Anyone who has been sold something they didn’t want, and were left wondering: What just happened?

    About the Author

    Kevin Dutton is a British psychologist and researcher at the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University. He specializes in the study of psychopathy and has also written The Wisdom of Psychopaths.

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