I often think that the true masters of psychology (and certainly psychological persuasion) aren’t the psychologists, therapists or academics. They are the con artists (and not far behind, the magicians, salesmen, marketing gurus and advertisers).
Con routines are frightening in their vicious sense of shrewd exploitation, but equally fascinating in terms of the psychological dynamics.
I was once conned out of $40 on a game on ‘Monty’ in New York, at the time it annoyed the hell out of me, but since has provided lots of food for thought.
Everyone else was a stooge.
I was the mark.
As I pass by, I am fascinated by the hands offering and taking wads of cash from the main guy, playing the cups and ball routine.
People are winning every time, and he’s handing out cash, everyone’s enjoying themselves.
As I watch, I am now unwittingly involved.
Suddenly, no one is betting, yet to me its obvious that the ball is under a certain cup.
The guy doesn’t seem to care about the money anymore – he asks for random guesses.
With nothing to lose – I point out the cup I think its under. He nods yes! Well done! And suddenly – hes offering a handful of money! Wow, this guy really is a good guy, I haven’t even bet! I automatically reach out to take the money – but hold on – he remembers that I haven’t put anything up of my own.
So he declines, and asks me to prove that I had the money to bet.
I take out $40. He takes it, as if suggesting he is just about to offer me the money with his other hand – but then pulls both hands back, including my money.
He lifts the cup – obviously I was wrong, I’m the mark, the sleight of hand escaped me.
Everyone sighs “aw, bad luck!” someone slaps me on the back, all suggesting “there is nothing you can do now”.
Confused, I walk away, going over in my head what just happened, and wondering how I lost $40 (which in hindsight I realise was minimal).
I realised I was conned – but by the time I look back – they have all disappeared. I have met people who have a very similar story to tell of how the same thing happened to them.
The routine was explained on “The Real Hustle” (pictured) with a detailed account of all the subtleties.
Do you have a story to share of how someone tried (successfully or not) to con you? If so – please provide all the details, it would be great to share the story.