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Interactive video lesson plan for: The Psychology of Con Artists, and How to Avoid Them | Maria Konnikova

Activity overview:

Psychologist and writer Maria Konnikova on how to out-smart a con artist. Konnikova's latest book is "The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time" (


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Transcript - While there's really no way to tell if someone is lying, so there's no way to spot deception and say you're not telling the truth, and there's no such thing as the Pinocchio's nose of lying, no one sign that will tell you this person is not to be trusted. But we can learn to recognize some of the persuasive techniques that people might use to try to get us on their side. Unfortunately it starts with getting us to like them. And so once you like someone it's much more difficult to spot these things because you're already subjective. But how do people get you to like them? Well, we like people who are similar to us and we like people who like the things we like. We like people who are familiar to us, oh, I've seen you around. I know who you are. And people who are trying to sell us something, be they con artists or just softer sales people, they know this and so they latch onto characteristics about us that are pretty apparent. They might find out that I'm from the Boston area and say, "oh the Red Sox," and try to see my reaction. Am I an avid Red Sox fan? If I am the conversation will now go in that direction. All of a sudden we're bonding over baseball. This can't be a bad person. And now all of a sudden they're selling me something but now from a very different point of view, from a point of view of a friend of someone who's a buddy, of someone who's really cool rather than the point of view of someone who is a sales person.

So that's something to be on the lookout. Although it's terrible because I'm basically saying hey don't make new friends. But what I mean is if a friendship advances very, very quickly and on very superficial basis and is followed very soon there after by a request then that might be a red flag that the request might be something that you want to think twice about. Then there are ways of framing requests that we know are more likely to be successful. For instance, there's a technique that's called the foot in the door. Get your foot in the door and then you can ask for what you really want. So how do you get the foot in the door? First you ask for something really, really small. So I might ask you for just two minutes of your time. I want your opinion on a purchase I'm making. And I know that I really trust your opinion on cell phones so can you just help me out do you like your phone? What do you like about it? Okay. Wonderful. Thank you so much. We're done.

Tagged under: Maria Konnikova, artist,lying,persuasive,techniques,sales people,sales person,superficial,red flag,requests, ,door face,foot door,human,emotions,time,pressure,exploding offer,job,risk,persuade,business,dignity,lesson,Big Think,BigThink,BigThink.,Education,Educational,Lifelong Learning,EDU

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