Robert Cialdini Explores the Neuroscience of Influence

Question: What influence does neuroscience have on your work?

Cialdini:    I am taking a special interest in neuroscience, the neuroscience of influence and persuasion.  So, for example, there’s one classic study in social psychology called the [Ashe] Study in which people go around a table and choose between three lines, which is the one they think is the longest.  And the researchers have rigged the data so that the first five people who are all confederates of the experimenter say the wrong line, and then they get to the sixth person and they find a very high percentage of those six people that that sixth person will go along with the crowd instead of believing their own eyes.  It’s a clear difference, perceptually.  They replicated that study.  Since then, a new study has been done to replicate that procedure with people who are hooked up to brain imaging devices, and what these researchers found was that when people came upon the situation where they were out of sync with their fellows there in the room, two things happened in their brain.  One is the area associated with puzzlement lit up, and so did the area associated with physical pain.  Being out of step with the group was physically painful for those individuals.  Now, here’s the brilliant thing about the study.  They also did it with being out of step with five computers.  With the computer set, you got puzzlement lighting up in your brain but no pain.  That’s why it’s so difficult for us to be out of step with the crowd, with our group, with our subculture, because it’s painful to be… the social consequences of being out of step are painful to us.  There are no social consequences of being out of step with computers, but there are social consequences of being out of step with your friends, and it registers as pain.  I thought that was a very important insight from that brain imaging study.

Robert Cialdini on how your brain tricks you.

Car culture and suburban sprawl create rifts in society, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

Pixabay
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less