I love learning about how the brain works and how people think. Advertising, sales, job interviews… almost everything in life requires manipulating information to influence and attract your audience.

During my first semester of college I took a social psychology course which was so cool and taught me to view life through a different perspective. Our professor taught the information with examples so we were always watching video clips to demonstrate the class material. While I currently do not remember 99% of the material, there is one point/example which I will always remember and that started my list, How to Outsmart People. (I highly doubt outsmarting people was the actual point of topic, but that is how I found it useful)

How to Outsmart People

  1. If you give people specific orders, they will follow your directions.
    • I wish I could find the video for the experiment we watched in class, but I can’t so I will just have to explain the point in words. An actor fell down in the middle of a decently crowded street and pretended to have a sprained ankle. Random people would approach him and ask him if he needed help. The actor replied with one of two different responses.
    • Response 1: The actor replied, “Yes thank you! I sprained my ankle and I think there is a drug store over there. Could you see if there is anything to help my ankle.” People went to the drug store and came back with a variety of items from pain killers to crutches. The possibilities were endless because the question was open-ended.
    • Response 2: However when the actor gave a specific order, people did not think for themselves. In this case, the actor replied to the offer for help with, “Yes, thank you! Could you get me an Ace bandage from that drug store so I can wrap my foot.” Then the people would go to the drug store and ask for the Ace bandage. The drug store owner, who was also an actor, would say, “I’m sorry we do not have any Ace bandages.” Because they were only told to get an Ace bandage, the people would return to the injured actor and say, “Sorry, they were out of Ace bandages.” As they were given a specific order, no one thought for himself and asked for an ankle brace, or crutches, or pain killers, or possibly a substitute for an Ace bandage. No, they all returned empty handed, as they could not fulfill the request.
    • I think this is hilarious! I have a motto that if you want something done right, you should do it yourself but now I have add an amendment, If you want something done right, do it yourself (*or give explicit directions on how to do it).

And from Brain Games, this sweet show from National Geographic…


2.  The Middle Decoy

    • Sell more stuff for more money…BRILLIANT. Watch this video.


3.  People don’t like to tell you information, but they love to tell you that you are wrong.

    • So imagine your best friend died (sad I know). Some random person who you have never seen comes up to you and starts asking questions about your friend- What was his favorite color? Did he like sports? Most likely you will be creeped out and not say anything.
    • Now on the other hand, say another random stranger dude came up to you and started saying how YOUR best friend was in fact HIS best friend, and wasn’t it nice that mutual best friend always loved the color pink and long runs into the sunset. Now you know that best friend hated pink and was a couch potato, you would respond, “No way, dude! You are wrong! Best friend hated pink and the closet thing he ever came to running was chasing down the ice cream truck.”
    • People love to tell you that you are wrong.

4.  Creating limits, increases sales.

    • Lucky Charms are on sale for half price. How many boxes do you buy?
      • Hmmm I like Lucky Charms so I’m going to buy 3 boxes.
    • Now Lucky Charms are on sale for half price with a 5 box limit.
      • I kinda want to buy 5 boxes now and get my moneys worth.

5.  Always say your most important thing first. People get bored.

    • nuff said.