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The Psychology of Sex #6: How to Get Someone to Agree with You

November 6, 2009

I’ve decided to take a break from recommending other blogs for now (on a weekly basis, at least). Helpful hint to other bloggers out there: Take the time to recommend blogs you like from time to time. It helps turn this distant, virtual world into something much more like a real community.

Instead, I’d like to start a weekly series as a subcategory to the Guy Talk section of this blog called The Psychology of Sex. This isn’t about how to get mentally prepared in bed. This is about applying behavioral psychology and economics to meeting and attracting people who you want to meet and attract.

I’ve actually already talked this several times:

#1: How to Hold Your Beer

#2: How to Accept a Compliment

#3: How to Tell Someone Your Phone Number

#4: How to Express–or Gauge–Interest After the First Date

#5: How to Make Someone Like You More

Today I’d like to talk about how to get someone to agree with you.

I’m reading Malcolm Gladwell’s fascinating book The Tipping Point. A couple days ago I read about a study that Gladwell discusses in detail regarding an experiment involving a group of people who were told that they test subjects for a telemarketing strategy.

The subjects were seated in little cubicles so they couldn’t see each other. In the cubicles, individuals found one of three instructions:

  1. just listen
  2. listen and nod your head up and down
  3. listen and shake your head side to side

The pitch they listened to on their headphones was a person proposing that college tuitions should be raised. After listening, the subjects were asked if they had been convinced by the telemarketer’s proposal–they wrote down the number that they thought tuitions should be.

JameyPerhaps you’ve guessed the results. The people who were told to nod while listening–basically forcing their body to do something that’s usually synonymous with agreement regardless of whether or not they actually agreed to what they were listening to–agreed that tuitions should be raised. The people who were told to shake their heads disagreed with the tuition hike and wanted lower tuitions, and the neutral group was okay with things staying the same.

These findings, although obvious as you read this, are pretty remarkable. They mean that our body’s subconscious actions impact the way we think. Our bodies tell our minds what to think.

How can you use this information? If you want someone to agree with you, get them to nod without realizing. The easiest way to do this is nod yourself. Just like yawning, nodding is contagious–if you start nodding while you talk, odds are the listener will too. Or, as crazy as this sounds, stand in front of something moving up and down. Like a plate-glass elevator. Better yet, bar owners, install neon lights on the walls that light upwards one by one and then downwards one by one. Put everyone in the bar in an agreeable mood.

Let me know if you get agreeable results by using this tactic.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dionne permalink
    November 6, 2009 9:20 am

    Great blog! Love the new photo!

  2. Joe S permalink
    November 6, 2009 11:34 am

    This is pretty well known to those of us who have graduated from the Dale Carnegie class.
    Most people who read Dale Carnegie or take courses from a Dale Carnegie institute find them to be valuable.

    The chapter titles of his signature book – “How to Win Friends and Influence People” – are below. One of them is essentially this thought – “Start with questions the other person will answer yes to”. Saying yes isn’t far off from nodding your head, in day-to-day life most people do both. It should be noted that he wrote this book in 1936 – its continued popularity is a testament to how true his wisdom is.

  3. November 6, 2009 11:39 am

    I’d heard of that book, but I didn’t recognize the name Dale Carnegie.

    That’s a great way to get people to nod. However, I have a somewhat contradictory theory about the power of giving someone the option to opt out–it’s more relevant at the end of conversation, not during, but it’s interesting to me that you might want to get someone to say yes and say no–strategically–at different times in the conversation. Although, that also seems a bit manipulative, but I guess the whole idea of the psychology of sex is a little manipulative. As long as we aren’t using people and everybody walks away happier.


  1. The Psychology of Sex #7: How to Get Someone to Say Yes « Jamey Stegmaier's Blog

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