Have You Ever Been Asked to Work as a Hired Gun?


In one of your video lectures you talk about how PR firms use the psychology of persuasion to craft messages that exploit cognitive biases, and you gave a great example of how you might advise a government agency to handle a PR situation if all you cared about was persuasion. Have you ever been approached or contracted to craft an influence strategy for a company or organization?
- Jorge

Not me personally. There are plenty of PR and media professionals who are happy to offer their services. Larger consulting firms have professionals on staff who are well versed in the relevant psychological literature, though how well this information is being used is open to speculation. Advertising firms, for example, will regularly commission white paper reports on the latest research on the psychology of persuasion and influence, but how this information is actually used in shaping their campaign strategies isn't obvious from the outside.

I wouldn't accept a job like this. I'm not a person who thinks that all forms of unconscious psychological persuasion are necessarily unethical, but I would rather spend my time making this information as widely available as possible, so that ordinary people have some tools for thinking critically about influence and persuasion, and what they can do to protect themselves from the worst kinds of manipulation.