Monday, December 16, 2013

Scam Psychology: Intuitive Mind vs. the Rational Mind

scammer is always leading you into getting the wrong impression of him, and thus of his scheme, and thus, this calls for you to think as little as possible. How that works requires explaining how your mind works.

Basically, your mind has roughly 3 parts... Reflexive, Intuitive, and Rational.

The reflexive mind (something that's so ingrained in you, it's a reflex, like move your hand away from something that causes pain, such as hot plate, electric shock, and so on. Thats completely automatic that you don't even have to think about it. It's in your subconsciousness.

Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Intuitive mind handles something that is not completely similar (i.e. handled by reflex), but is similar enough that you are comfortable the recognition. This is "common sense", "going by feeling", "first impression", and so on. This is also sometimes known as "System 1" per Daniel Kahneman's book "Thinking... fast and slow".

The Rational Mind handles the rest, when something requires deeper thought beyond intuition and impression, such as logical and scientific analysis. This is also known as "System 2" per Kahneman book.

Scammers can't do anything about your mind... except how you perceive the scheme, so they will do all they can to make their scheme look familiar, and thus you NOT engage the rational mind, but stay with the intuitive mind. There are many ways to do that, but the the 4 basic techniques are

  • Priming the idea
  • Clear Visual Display
  • Keep you in good mood
  • Repeated experience
If they can use these four techniques on you, and you are not the pensive kind (i.e. you prefer to think things over, instead of doing things on impulse)  they can basically make you forget about "due diligence" and join just because "it sounds good".  

And that "first impression" will be wrong.. because the scheme was designed that way to take advantage of your cognitive biases to give you the wrong impression. 

A presentation designed to convince you of something, such as "join my scam", would have the four elements above: priming, clear visual display, good mood, and repeated experience. 

Priming the idea -- we are all affected by ideas we are exposed to, almost at a reflexive and instinctive level. If we read about old people and their lack of mobility, we will walk slower (really, it's been proven by repeated research). If I want you to think about the data I am about to give you a certain way, I merely have to tell you what you should EXPECT to see, and you will see it. 

If you still don't understand priming, here's an illustration: what do you see in this pretty famous picture? 

If you said "naked couple", that's because you've been primed to see human bodies since your early teens. Are you sure you don't see dolphins? Look again. 

Aha, I have to prime your mind for you to see dolphins, eh? 

Your intuitive mind (system 1) saw the shapes of a naked couple and that's it. You no longer process the details of the picture. You saw exactly what you wanted to see. 

Children who were not exposed to pictures of naked bodies see the dolphins, not the bodies.

Scams are the same way: they present things to you, tap into things that you know about (but probably not in significant detail) that you intuitively feel you know the scheme well enough, so you don't feel the need to engage the rational mind for a detailed analysis. 

The "clear words" and "repeated ideas" are pretty simple... they are meant to put you into "cognitive ease", which in turn is contributing to and is buoyed by good mood. 

Basically, when you feel comfortable, and presented with superficially familiar ideas, you don't think much. Your mind is on cruise control. You are more likely to believe the speaker and trust your impression and intuition about things, rather than think it through.  (Conversely, when you are uncomfortable, irritable, and stressed, you will be far more hesitant to say yes, far more likely to think about every detail, possibility, permutation, and so on. )

Presentations, recruiting seminars, and so on are usually held in nice comfortable settings, (sometimes, on a cruise!) with free water and minor amenities, to make you feel comfortable, and the presenters hammer the same points over and over, by telling you what you want first (priming the idea, remember!) then telling you how to achieve it (join their scheme).  The rest is reinforcement (it's so easy, virtually no risk, huge industry...)  

They are INTENTIONALLY trying to prevent you from thinking things through

That's clearly NOT good for you.
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