…and how this will affect you…or…how you will use it to affect others…

There are two types of people who can shut down parts of your brain without you ever knowing it! One type are beautiful women
(no big surprise!).

The more surprising type are Christian speakers that Christian audience members believe have the ability to heal.

We’ve known for sometime that when humans attribute uniquely special “powers” to certain other people, that those attributing are more likely to blindly follow the charismatic leader.

The reason, of course, is simple. You believe.

Gail Hurt was nice enough to send me the multi-departmental study done at Aarhaus University in Denmark.

Specifically, in this study, if Christians in an audience believed the speaker to have healing abilities, two areas in the front of their brain were pretty much turned to the “off” position.

Equally as interesting as the fMRI results were the after-the-fact reports that those whose executive functioning had been affected reported as being “in God’s presence”.

Why is This Important in the Persuasion Arena?

This is important to you because if people have a negative perception of you, it will be much more difficult to influence them.

And, if they have a positive perception of you, influence and communication in general become more free flowing.

Research by Richeson and Shelton in 2003 revealed that some white people have activation in certain frontal portions of the brain when viewing pictures of black people. This is interesting because when humans view images of friends and family, they tend to have these regions de-activated. (also Bartels and Zeki in 2004)

Further, Wrega in 2006 showed that women primed with positive stereotypes did better in a task.

“Establishing negative assumptions about a person or group seems to impair communication even at the level of executive processing, whereas positive assumptions by contrast may facilitate communication.” (Schjoedt, et al 2010)

Hundreds of studies reveal that first impressions and even nonconscious priming can change people’s feelings and decision-making in reference to another person or group of people.

In hypnosis, a goal of the practitioner is to bypass the anti-suggestive barrier (this same executive functioning region of the brain). It appears that belief is what flips the switch. If you believe in the person, you flip the switch off. If you don’t, the executive function continues to carry on.

The reason that specific words and phrases are, in general, not extremely important to persuading someone is likely connected with this newly studied phenomenon.

Description: Kevin Hogan on Persuasion and Influence
The trust/belief/certainty connection is about the person, not about the technique.

Once a person believes, the technique can expedite a result. Until a person believes in you, you can beat them with a hammer and nothing will change their thinking.

How the Study Worked

The study utilized an audience of mostly Pentecostal Christians who would observe and pray with three different speakers. There was a speaker identified as non-Christian, a Christian and a Christian identified as having a reputation for healing.

About half of the participants in the audience were placed in there because they were secular in nature and didn’t believe in God (or had a low confidence of God’s existence).

As you might now expect, those who believed the one speaker to have healing gifts felt God’s presence more than the other speaker who was not thought to have healing gifts.

And, as you might gather, those secular participants experienced no presence of God where those who were Christians did.

The participants who did were chosen because they tended to partake in Intercessory Prayer for people afar daily. (They believe that their prayers can impact the health, life of someone far away.)

The difference between the two Christian speakers was remarkable as well, both in the fMRI scans as well as in reporting after the experience.

The Christian speaker identified as having a reputation as being a healer had a much greater impact on shutting down the executive functioning of the brain.

The study revealed the greater the deactivation in the executive functioning region of the brain, the higher the rating of the speaker’s charisma (which has two meanings: the greek, spiritual gifts; and the more broad sense of a charismatic speaker).

The entire study can be read here: oxfordjournals.org

Beautiful Women and Persuasion

Kevin Hogan on Persuasion and Influence
We now return to beautiful women. They are the second group of people you find out about this week.

Beautiful women captivate fascination and attention wherever they go. One thing you didn’t know until now – if you’re a man – they can change your
body’s functioning, as well!

I’ve written often about the impact of beautiful women in the presence of men. Women…cause men…to be impulsive, act irrationally, and, well…to
just BE stupid. (That would be a non- scientific term.)

Now it turns out beautiful women “do” more than that, by “doing” absolutely NOTHING.

Three people are placed in a room together to solve a Sudoku puzzle for five minutes.

One of them is a beautiful woman, the other is a man…any man. The third is the unwitting participant.

What happens?

Cortisol, a stress hormone, gushes forth in the body of the unwitting male participant consistently in this setting.

This can occur when a man believes he “has a chance for _____” with a beautiful woman.

After the five minutes, if the man leaves and the participant has his level of cortisol checked, it is off the scales when the woman remains seated next to him.

However, if the woman leaves the room, leaving the two men alone, cortisol levels return to normal.

The University of Valencia reports that the cortisol level is heightened when the man believes the woman is “out of his league.”

Being around women who are out of one’s league for an extended period will potentially cause chronic cortisol elevation and lead to significant risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

Sigh. Some things in life, of course, have a price that might be worth paying….

[Ed. Note: Kevin Hogan, Psy.D. is the author of 20 books and dozens of programs about persuasion and influence. If you like this article you can sample Kevin’s weekly newsletter, Coffee with Kevin Hogan and get two books about the brain and persuasion at http://www.kevinhogan.com]


  1. connie cole on April 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Just interesting

  2. Jeff Sterling Paro on April 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    great article kevin!

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