The Psychology of Persuasion Needs Knowledge

Persuasion surrounds us everywhere. Hungry? Restaurants will invite you to dine in their place. Interested in a movie? There will be plenty of ads to suggest which ones you should see. People always influence us, and it is easy to overlook this fact.

Persuasion is simply part of social life. The idea of either symbolically or rationally make us think in certain ways, or accept new ideas and be compelled to take certain actions is actually what Psychology is.

Of the many ways in which persuasion can affect us, here are some that the Psychology of Persuasion can tell us about how to influence other people:

o Create a need. This is a well-known method of persuading; you should create a need or add some appeal to one that’s already there. This kind of persuasion appeals to some deep-seated needs. They include love, security, self-respect, or self-actualization.

o Appeal to social needs. This is another way in which persuasion can work effectively. What comes under this rubric is the idea of popularity or even fame. One way in which this kind of persuasion takes place is in those television ads where a famous person is endorsing a product. The idea behind this is that if you use the same product, you are going to be like that celebrity in some way. This kind of advertising is quite an effective use of persuasion.

o Applying loaded words or images. Many an advertiser will rely on the use of certain positive terms to be associated with the products they sell.

The Psychology of Persuasion has, then, to do with inculcating certain values and beliefs so that the targeted people change their actions by changing their ways of thinking. These strategies are mentioned in the paragraph above. In its literal sense, psychology is the study of the soul, and the soul in this sense is the actual individual. This way Psychology is involved in issues concerning pleasure or pain, and these issues can have a great influence on your values and can influence the ways in which you might use new skills. Persuasion is, therefore, a kind of leading of people along lines that you can both appreciate.

Thus, this way can take people to new experiences that coincide with their expectations. And if the expectations are such that they change the way a person thinks, persuasion will have covered both points – namely, that of the persuader and that of the persuaded. This can lead to customers buying more products and salespeople racking up more sales.

The Psychology of Persuasion is a powerful tool which is applied by politicians, business leaders, and even ministers of various religions. The application of this methods of influencing people is both practical and quite reasonable. Even those who are not experts in psychology can see this.

And, of course, this kind of persuasiveness can be utilized in our everyday lives as well. We can easily adapt certain types of reactions when we are being persuaded in different ways. The reactions thus brought about can even predict certain future behaviors concerning the adaptation of certain ideas and actions. The problem is that individuals intent on deceiving us can also utilize these techniques. Once you are cognizant of this, you can actually determine whether you have been influenced for better or worse.

Advertising and Black Magic – Manipulative Methods For Influencing the Unconscious

Article: “The Morphological Approach for Unconscious Consumer Motivation Research, by Dirk Ziems, Journal of Advertising Research, June 2004

Abstract: Advertisers are encouraged to use the knowledge of Gestalt Theory of Psychology in order to research more effective ways of advertising their products and services. By using advertising campaigns that cater to unconscious processes of the psyche, consumers will be highly motivated to purchase certain products.

On the surface, to suggest that advertisers and marketing researchers are actually practicing “black magic” would appear to be the height of histrionics and puritanical paranoia. Yet, when one examines modern advertising practices of exploiting the unconscious drives, and compares that to ancient and modern forms of Black Magic, then such a conclusion becomes inescapable. First, however, let us examine the modern technique of “Morphological Market Research,” as explained in Dirk Ziems’ article in the Journal of Advertising Research, June 2004.

Ziems’ article explains how the Morphological approach to market research takes into account later developments of Gestalt Theory of psychoanalysis. Advertising that takes into account the unconscious drives identified by Freud — the Self-Preservation Instinct, the Sex Instinct, the Herd Instinct — will be far more effective. While consumers may consciously make decisions based upon practical considerations, often more deeper, unconscious, motivations lie beneath these. As Ziems writes: ‘Products and brands do not just serve the functional purpose for which they appear to be made. They regulate and negotiate — usually unconsciously — a more fundamental and more fundamentally motivating context…. As the mentioned examples, cars, furs, and paper towels demonstrate, products always combine utility values with symbolic values. The utility values are often used for a rationalization of purchase and use, while the symbolic values express deeper, psychological motives. Successful products and brands manage to address both sides and offer ways of mediating between them.”

A man buying a fur for his wife, for example, may be motivated unconsciously to demonstrate his male potency as a hunter-gatherer-provider-figure for his wife. A man or woman buying a car might be motivated by unconscious escapist fantasies surrounding the concept of freedom. Symbolically, the absorbing quality of Paper towels transforms them into a magical symbol of being able to reverse everyday troubles and nuisances. Victoria’s Secret successfully negotiated the Victorian sexual repression of the West by the very pun of its name, Victoria’s Secret — in other words, a hidden or repressed sexuality that can be worn underneath outer clothing.

True to the Gestalt Theory of Psychoanalysis, Ziems argues that more successful marketing campaigns should focus on one particular “gestalt” (overall aesthetic impression): “Undoubtedly, marketing strategies should limit themselves to one key message (the concept of single-minded proposition). Consequently, they should convey one ‘core feeling,’ I.e., ‘emotional value’ …”

At any rate, Ziems concludes that a detailed knowledge of the unconscious processes is the key to successful marketing: “Knowledge about psychological images and psychological fundamental structures broadens the horizon of motivational market research immensely and enables marketers to create better and more appropriately targeted advertisements.”

The largest system of Ceremonial Magic in the West was made public early in the 20th Century by the publishing of the secret rituals of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In the introduction to the system it is stated: “The Golden Dawn is a ‘system’ of discovering, dialoguing, and even negotiating with the collective unconscious and is not a religion, philosophy, or even a cult.”[1] This form of “dialoguing” with the initiate would also awaken the complexes of the “personal unconscious” as well as to link the initiate with the archetypes of the “collective unconscious.” As W.E. Butler, of the Society of Inner Light, well understood: “Magic, with its roots in the immemorial past, does just this, it speaks to the subconscious mind of man through the archaic images of its symbols and rituals, and thereby produces those ‘changes in consciousness’ which the magician seeks.”[2]

The magician used these rites, symbolism and ceremonies to awaken the contents of the subconscious mind in order that the darker regions of the psyche could be reintegrated, and thereby transform the initiate and enable him to transcend the ego. This laudable endeavor prefigures and parallels psychoanalysis. Modern advertising, however, attempts to exploit the workings of the unconscious mind for egoistic and selfish purposes — to make a profit by exploiting man’s hidden psyche in a way he little understands or suspects. One can only conclude, therefore, that advertising and merchandising are a vile form of Black Magic which has been targeting Americans for over a century now.

By Corey Wicks


[1] Israel Regardie. The Golden Dawn: A Complete Course in Practical Ceremonial Magic. (St. Paul: MN: Llewellyn, 1994, pps. Xviii).

[2] W.E. Butler. Magic and the Magician. (London: Aquarian Press, 1991, pps. 21-22).