The Power Of Suggestion Influences Behaviour

The power of suggestion influences both behaviour
and whatever sticky situation we are in.

In all walks of life, we have to be aware of the power of suggestion that primes and influences our expectations, behaviour, perception, beliefs and ideas.

Suggestion:the action  of influencing a person to accept an idea or belief uncritically, especially as a technique in hypnosis.

The material world – and particularly religion – relies on suggestion, giving rise to hope and expectation. We want to see/feel a suggestion and so we do see/feel it, but we’re not using observation itself as we’re relying on others. This is how situations become exaggerated and corrupted – see the Solomon Asch Experiment on conformity.

Suggestion may be conscious or unconscious.
Conscious is deliberate, while unconscious relies on hearsay …
and hearsay is the power of suggestion!

The power and the pervasive effect of suggestion affects our responses in the way that we are trained to anticipate, and lead to believe. In the same way that techniques of ‘brand awareness’ use subliminal messaging to light up the brain before we even know it, our habitual judgements jump in before we know it.

These expectations set up anticipated automatic responses within us. Fear creates panic, and panic endorses compliance. Remember the Solomon Asch experiment!

An entire industry has arisen from the idea that, through the power of suggestion, we can change and ‘improve’ our lives. Books, magazines, TV/radio programmes, social media, general media … word of mouth … all these whisper in our ears continuously.

Suggestion becomes a meme: it is anecdotal and subjective. As long as people are queuing up in expectation, others will join the end of the queue – rather like the domino effect. The power of suggestion has been demonstrated over and over again in every field of human behaviour.

The placebo effect
Simply believing that something is doing you good can make a difference mentally when, in fact, nothing is actually happening. In many clinical drug trials, a sizeable minority of people will show a measurable and observable improvement in their condition having taken nothing more than an inert placebo which has had a strong psychological effect. Cults use the same techniques, encouraging followers to believe in the power of the teacher and the stories of ‘miracles’.

Distortions of memory
Suggestion has an impact on memory. Leading questions and suggestive information can seriously distort a person’s memory of an observed event.

Suggestion works like magic!
For centuries, magicians have been exploiting our vulnerability to suggestion in order to achieve all kinds of illusions and sleights of hand. One of the basic tools used by illusionists is the practice of misdirection, which is made possible because of the power of suggestion. For example, when verbal suggestion has succeeded in diverting the attention of the audience, the trained magician is then able to substitute or remove objects.

“Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.”
– 17th century proverb

Buddha: “Don’t take my word for it; look for yourself.”

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  1. Tony, years ago, I was standing in shorts and tshirt in low 50’s Fahrenheit, light wind near a river. I was cold, shivering and had goosebumps. I knew better when the people in the group believed it was “a spirit” on account of their prayers. Lol..I won’t ever forget their delusional state of mind.

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