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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Analyze and Disarm
Hundreds of persuaders barrage us daily, trying to change our decisions or hook our loyalty (such as book reviewers who seek to steer our buying). Some persuaders act straightforwardly and honestly, while others seek to manipulate, deceive, or steal from you. How do we identify them, disarm them, even learn from them? Kevin Dutton has spent years studying how people...
Published on December 26, 2010 by Kevin L. Nenstiel

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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cognitive distraction
SPICE stands for: simplicity, perceived self-interest, incongruity, confidence, and empathy. These are the pillars of persuasion - says Kevin DUTTON Ph.D. From someone who has studied persuasion for so long, one would expect a grand and persuasive performance.

There is lots of useful information in this work on how we change our minds, what factors influence...
Published on March 12, 2011 by Sceptique500


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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cognitive distraction, March 12, 2011
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This review is from: Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds (Hardcover)
SPICE stands for: simplicity, perceived self-interest, incongruity, confidence, and empathy. These are the pillars of persuasion - says Kevin DUTTON Ph.D. From someone who has studied persuasion for so long, one would expect a grand and persuasive performance.

There is lots of useful information in this work on how we change our minds, what factors influence us, and how our brain might operate. I found for instance the last chapter particularly illuminating. Emotion comes first - with a belief - and reasoning is the acid with which we test the validity of the belief. Unless we can "reason away" from belief - we are stuck (pg. 233). Of course the social environment plays a fundamental role, and so many inborn traits.

Simplicity, however, is not the author's strong suit. He has an inordinate fondness for metaphors, at times inapt, many inept - one might suspect some kind of attention disorder, which inhibits him from completing a phrase, or using plain words. His language tends toward obfuscation whenever approaching the gist of the argument. Just an example: "It comprises, in zoological terms, the modern-day equivalent of a key stimulus of influence." (pg. 163). A penny for clarification. Descriptions of experiments are at times shoddy, incomplete, or confusing: one has to go over the material several times in order to understand it - or conclude that the description is imperfect.

Maybe he is pursuing incongruity: he loves biological metaphors applied to consciousness: "persuasion virus", "cancer of the will", "genome of influence" - somehow he wants to get the message across that emotions have an unchanging biological basis - without making the case openly. Unless he happens to be lost in "airspace of perception" - that is. Given the central role of the brain in buttressing his case, one might have wished a brief and coherent description of the brain's functions. It all comes in bits and pieces scattered throughout the book.

His link of emotions to evolution is beyond the pale. Our knowledge of hominid evolution is far too scanty to allow inferences as to the role of evolution in behavioural traits. Dr DUTTON shows here masterly confidence is his own insights: "We have a powerful, inbuilt bias that predisposes us to think in a certain way: namely, that we do the things we do because we're the kinds of people who do those things! It's an evolutionary rule of thumb. A timesaving device programmed into our brains over millions and millions of years by natural selection." (pg. 106) I rest my case.

Does Dr. DUTTON generate empathy? This question I'll leave to other readers.
__________
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not the science of social influence, June 15, 2011
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A reader (Pittsburgh, PA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds (Hardcover)
The book is nothing more than disjointed anecdote strung together in a tedious fashion. If you have read the literature the author references, you will realize that often he is in error and/or he glosses over and misses important points. The author bills himself as a leading researcher in the field of the science of influence but yet he has never conducted research in this area nor has he contributed to the scientific literature on influence. And it shows in his miscommunication of basic findings and misleading story-telling.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Recommended, March 30, 2011
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This review is from: Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds (Hardcover)
I really wanted to like this book, but found it tedious, disorganized and overwritten. What could have been said in three or four paragraphs went on for page after page after page. In the end, it just didn't seem particularly relevant. The book suggests you'll learn something about the art of persuasion by reading, but that's not the case. Long stories about bugs and eye contact. Save your money.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Bag of Pop Psychology, July 20, 2012
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This review is from: Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds (Hardcover)
A lot of the "persuasion" this book refers to depends on your being able to deflate someone with a witty rejoinder - "Yes Madam, I am drunk. But tomorrow I'll be sober and you'll still be dumb." Or the persuasion referred to depends on diffusing a situation by making common cause with someone - "I stole a souvenir fork too. But I think the hostess saw us. I suggest we return the forks to the table."

But for most of us, if we can come up with any such rejoinder at all, it will be an esprit de l'escalier - a comeback we think of too late when we're already out the door and down the staircase. We can't be trained to think of these rejoinders. Delivering one on target is often a matter of pure luck. Besides, this isn't the kind of persuasion I had in mind when I got this book. I was hoping to find ways of changing a person's mind on issues important to me, or of influencing people away from what I perceive to be their damaging fixations.

The book does eventually address this deeper aspect of persuasion. There are some insights here, particularly in the middle of the book where Dutton considers the type of influence that molds dedicated cult members and the type of influence that primes a person to become the victim of psychopaths or other very mercenary characters. However, there are a couple of things that detract from Dutton's presentation even in these more serious sections.

For one thing, he offers up a potpourri of brain studies and experiments that show which parts of the brain are involved in different thinking processes. The presumption is that if we can change people's neural pathways, we might be able to change their minds. Most of the brain studies cited are flimsy one-off researches on a limited set of volunteers. The book is really like one long "Psychology Today" series of updates for the casual lay reader. Such studies are often contradicted by the very next such study. I was especially put out with this kind of research after having read Ray Tallis' book "Aping Mankind," Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity which intelligently challenges the presumptions of such hit-or-miss studies.

Then what might be valuable insights here tend to be overridden, or overwritten, by Dutton's forced attempts at snappy writing. Dutton (an Englishman who uses a fair smattering of Brit colloquialisms) often indulges in barrages of mixed metaphors. "In the courtroom, rape often constitutes a crucible of persuasion jujitsu in which opposing lawyers lock horns not so much over the minds of the jury as over their hearts."

What's more, he often both anthropomorphizes the brain and simultaneously compares it to a computer. "Your brain's so busy running it's fear program - it completely overrides its lie detection "module." When you think things through using the standards that the more serious writer Ray Tallis uses, you can see how both types of metaphors are very misleading.

Overall, these pages tend to be just too much pop psychology. The insights offered don't form any consistent approach that a reader can put into practice. After all the mixed metaphor and parlor game type novelties involving modes of perception - what's left are the good old stand-by techniques of influence. Be friendly; make an appeal to self-interest; look people straight in the eye; dress well; and sound self-assured. But we already knew that.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Analyze and Disarm, December 26, 2010
This review is from: Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds (Hardcover)
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Hundreds of persuaders barrage us daily, trying to change our decisions or hook our loyalty (such as book reviewers who seek to steer our buying). Some persuaders act straightforwardly and honestly, while others seek to manipulate, deceive, or steal from you. How do we identify them, disarm them, even learn from them? Kevin Dutton has spent years studying how people change others' minds. The answers he finds may surprise you.

Dutton combines new discoveries in cognitive psychology and neurobiology with funny, playful anecdotes, to explain how our brains perceive common stimuli, showing that we're wired for occasional deception. We communicate even when we don't realize; we receive signals from others that have little basis in reason. Surprisingly, the people who most easily persuade us are psychopaths, those who least have our interests at heart, though they seldom mean us harm.

I question how useful Dutton's discoveries are for crafting persuasion. The intricate steps he describes contradict his "split second" promise. But in terms of analyzing and disarming influence, careful reading to comprehend psychological tactics could defend us against those who would treat us like resources. If this book can help people recognize when others want to persuade or even deceive us, I would call it nothing short of a miracle.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Very Hard Read to Get Information You Can Get Elsewhere, January 16, 2013
This review is from: Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds (Hardcover)
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I love books on the psychology of why we make the decisions we do, but I was ready to stop reading this book after the introduction.

When I read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials) I couldn't put it down. I would have read it straight through if my wife hadn't made me stop to eat. A few years ago I let an employee of mine borrow it and told him to pass it on when he was done, and I still have random people thank me for passing the book along.

Dutton's writing is all over the place, and it's littered with needlessly wordy metaphors. Just turn to any page and you'll find yourself reading a two page story or a joke. It's almost as if he wanted to write a novel instead of an informative book on persuasion, but his story telling skills just weren't up to snuff. He overuses imagery, uses repetitive verbiage, is constantly making quips or being sarcastic, and fills pages with bad dialog that should have just been summarized.

Ex.
"Do you think of yourself as a lucky person, Kev?"
I'm confused.
"What do you mean?"
He smiles.
"Thought so.
I swallow.
"What?"
Silence. For about ten seconds.

<Skip Ahead>

"So what would you do?" I say.
Pathetic
"The business."
No Hesitation
"The business?" I repeat.
I'm on the ropes here.
"And what if she's not interested?"
"There's always later."
"Later? What do you mean?"
"I think you know what I mean."
Silence. Another ten seconds.

After a few pages of that you just kind of give up.

I truly believe that he was attempting to make the book interesting by adding some dramatic flair and humor, but you don't need to do that with this sort of information. Certainly not to the extent that he does.

I'm not going to lie and pretend that I finished this book. Over and over I found myself throwing my hands in the air trying to read it straight through. Eventually I tried to just skim the chapters to find some sort of treasure burred under the dirt, but the book is so disorganized that I couldn't even do that really. I certainly recognized some things that I already knew from other books. So, I'm not going to say that reading this will get you absolutely nothing, but there are a ridiculous amount of great books out there on this subject that you could read instead.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rehashed information, December 11, 2012
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I found the first chapter (the part about the frogs) interesting enough to buy the book. When I got it home and read the rest I was very disappointed. 90% of this book is unoriginal view points on information sourced from the work of Robert Cialdini among others.

Anyone who is well read in the area of persuasion will instantly recognize Cialdini's work reflected in this text.

Don't waste your time with this book. If you haven't read it already, grab a copy of Cialdini's Influence: Science and Practice (isbn 0205609996)

Hope this was helpful, if so hit the helpful button. Thank you!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars over-written and too-often misleading, March 16, 2011
This review is from: Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds (Hardcover)
Other reviewers have taken issue with the poor presentation of central examples and the need to re-read the text to see what he is saying: in other words, the author is often really not a good explainer or a good expositor. But I can't say that I wished that he had said MORE: I found the book annoyingly overwritten, and evasive in an odd way: he makes all those bold claims, but really doesn't even (try to) get down to the business of ARGUING for them until deep into the middle of the book. The book could and should have been shorter, clearer, and better organized.

For me, an additional distraction came from the author's frequent invocations of evolutionary psychology--whose theses are NOT verified, verifiable, or really even evidence-based--ES has been sharply (and I think tellingly) critized as a purveyor of 'Just So' stories rather than as anything remotely like SCIENCE-- and from his sloppy and inaccurate attribution of the continuation of ancient habits and practices of mind to our 'DNA.' Since, as the author well knows, research shows that it is possible to overcome the effects of a lot of our cognitive biases by mindful attention and analysis, we are clearly NOT talking about genetic traits here in any straightforward sense of the word.

The inaccuracies and the infelicity of the writing style (and organization) were truly distracting. I can't recommend it.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Look Into the Psychology and Neuroscience of Persuasion - But Don't Expect A Step By Step Guide To Getting Your Way, February 12, 2011
By 
Dave Lakhani (Boise, ID United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds (Hardcover)
Dr. Dutton's book is a very easy to understand deep dive into the psychology and neuroscience of persuasion. And by that I mean he makes the science not only easy to understand but fun to read. And, he does the kind of work that only someone who has dedicated a career to researching a subject can do.

The book breaks persuasion down into five elements which calls SPICE.

S - Simplicity, Keep the message short, sharp, and simple and we're more likely to believe it is true.
P - Perceived Self Interest, Con men agree it's the key to getting us to do something we didn't think we wanted to.
I - Incongruity, Surprise people - tell them your cupcake is 400 cents rather than four dollars and they are far more likely to buy it.
C - Confidence, The more confident you are, the more we believe you're right - even when we know your facts are wrong.
E - Empathy, Look people in the eye, nod when they nod, tell them your from the same small town they are - we trust people like ourselves.

Sound manipulative? The decision is up to you but the brain science is impossible to argue with and the results are proven again and again. According to Dr. Dutton this type of persuasion is instinctual that can immediately help you disarm skeptics, win arguments and close more sales.

The chapter called mind theft auto dissects the processes of conmen and the patterns they use to con people. He separates the manipulation to demonstrate the why in why we fall prey. He demonstrates how those ideas can be used ethically to create instant persuasion, it is brutally effective and to be studied by any serious student of persuasion.

This book is a must read if you are serious about understanding why persuasion works. If I have any criticism it is that the book isn't broken down into systematic applications that anyone could pick up and apply. But, if you are serious about persuasion already this book will give you more tools and make the ones you have already even more effective because you'll completely understand not only how they work but you'll see how we as humans work and that is a great place to persuade from.

In full disclosure, I got a review copy of this book early because of my own writing on the topic of persuasion and influence. And, for those of you who might be saying that my review is positive because of the law of reciprocation, not likely, I gets dozens of books a year to review and review very few because few of of the quality of Split Second Persuasion.

Dave Lakhani
Persuasion: The Art of Getting What You Want
Subliminal Persuasion: Influence & Marketing Secrets They Don't Want You To Know
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull, March 18, 2011
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This review is from: Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds (Hardcover)
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This book claims to be able to teach you how to be more persuasive. It fails to do that.

It does have a few interesting anecdotes, but nothing worth the price of this book.

All in all, the book is poorly written, poorly organized, covers old ground, and is not worth your time. Skip it.

One star.
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