‘The Road to Hell is Paved in Good Faith’ -Fredrich Hayek [Road to Serfdom]
I want to introduce different types of manipulation, and how it works. I like to talk in a straight forward manner. We get depressed if we don’t have enough money, finance is a big contributor to mental collapse. Depression from poverty is detrimental because the negative thought spreads. Sitting at the dinner table and looking at the food gives thoughts like I’m eating this because I don’t have money and I have to save, going shopping also gives an annoying thought, and even the dog barking next door sounds bothersome. Especially in the midst of corona pandemic, everyone wants to protect their assets, and I think it is true that we have to protect our assets. Just knowing the types of manipulation helps us to defend ourselves.
I think that because our society is based on capitalism and some people are eager to make money out of other people, we need to be able to defend ourselves, that is why I’m writing this big post.
Why do these selfish people exist?
‘The rich consume little more than the poor, and in spite of their natural selfishness and rapacity…they divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species.‘ -Adam Smith [The Wealth Of Nations]
We are all selfish in nature, and because we are selfish, we want to thrive and therefore we work. Because we work, the society has thrived and improved, and that’s how this society exists now as it is. The primary reason why the local supermarket owner sells you goods is because he/she wants to make money, not because he/she wants to provide you goods.
We live in a free market capitalist country with our natural selfishness. In trade, morality is not taken into account. Trades will be accomplished if conditions are met. Just like prostitutes making more profit in a few hours than cleaners working all day long. Capitalism does not take morality into account in order for the world to thrive, that is why selfishness has survived in this world and still exists.
Capitalism itself is not an evil thing. We know it’s not perfect, but that doesn’t mean there is a better system. It’s because the systems have also gone through something similar to natural selection, its not perfect but it managed to thrive the society. In fact, capitalism has been the most effective system throughout history. In China, 45 million people died of starvation in the Great Lead Forward because the people’s selfishness to thrive were inhibited due to the government owning all land. People didn’t work hard because the land is not theirs anyway, so the lack of food.
Where is Manipulation used?
Manipulation is something that is actually common, we see it all the time on TV, SNS, youtube, etc. Something like ‘1 website is designed through our platform every 1.34 seconds’. Unless we know them, we don’t notice that it is manipulation. Some of us who are in the marketing or sales field know these types of manipulation, some companies teach these in their trainings.
How does it work?
Our brain and body have evolved over time according to natural selection, which means that if something fits better than the other in survival, that something will survive and be passed on to the next generations eventhough it is not necessary for the modern society. An example of it is fight or flight response, a type of instinct where we either get angry and battle or fear and run. Animals with fight or flight instinct had a better survival chance than animals that did not have it. Therefore the animals with fight or flight response survived until now. But our modern society doesn’t require this instinct anymore. We will get sent to jail if we attack random people, we don’t have to hunt to survive, we don’t get threatened by wild animals like we did thousands of years ago.
Manipulation is a technique that uses these instincts of ours to create an impact in our mind, usually in marketing to make people buy their products or services.
Manipulation – Fear
‘Before its too late…’ is a usual marketing sentence in insurance companies
‘One person dies of heart attack every 36 seconds’ is used in heart health clinic advertisement
It’s also used in public campaign advertisements for educational purposes or to stop crimes.
A man drops an egg into a frying pan and says ‘this is your brain on drugs’. Anti-drug advertisement
Once fear takes place, fact becomes a secondary consideration. Our natural instinct is so strong that we cannot get rid of it easily. By triggering fear, they prove the reason to choose their products or services.
Manipulation – Desire
Most people don’t like working hard to reach a goal. People want something that will motivate them, help them reach their goal easily, a shortcut.
‘5 simple methods for a happier life!’
‘3 minute simple workout for shredded abs!’
‘$10k in 6 weeks working 4 hour a week!’
It works perfectly in people who lacks persistence or discipline or people who lack self confidence or is anxious toward their future. It gives them motivation, but without persistence of course, they won’t achieve it.
Especially when it’s about finance, like ‘make $500 a week by selling online’, its likely to be a scam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXJLdCmt8QU
Manipulation – Peer Pressure
‘4 out of 5 dentist chew this gum’
‘According to the double blind study performed by this university…’
‘more than a million customers were satisfied with our product’
ads put pressure on you like if you are the only one that’s not using it. The pressure doesn’t come from the reliability of professionals or group of people, but rather the fear that you might be wrong.
Manipulation – Halo Effect
When you see someone you like using a with a brand, that brand looks good because the positivity of that person halos. We know we are not going to jump like Michael Jordan just because we wear Jordan, but the image still leaves a positive view on the brand in our head.
I’m sure everyone has seen at least one of these ads, and they were very memorable. We still see these ads on TV, SNS, and other medias, but the reason why the marketers still use the same technique is because people still fall into these.
Some of us probably also have a experience of impulse buying. Let’s think about it. Were you happy in that month you bought it?