Here are just a few examples. But as we have seen, kinds of influences that can be used to manipulate can also be used non-manipulatively. When a conman tries to get you to feel empathy for a non-existent Nigerian prince, he acts manipulatively because he knows that it would be a mistake to feel empathy for someone who does not exist. Perhaps manipulation is wrong because it involves techniques that are inherently immoral ways to treat other human beings. We are constantly subject to attempts at manipulation. But for all its appeal, this answer also falls short, for it would condemn many forms of influence that are morally benign. Manipulative gaslighting occurs when the manipulator tricks another into distrusting what the manipulator recognizes to be sound judgment. Not every form of non-rational influence seems to be manipulative. When an abusive partner tries to make you feel guilty for suspecting him of the infidelity that he just committed, he is acting manipulatively because he is trying to induce misplaced guilt.
But what sets manipulation apart from other influences, and what makes it immoral? Researchers investigating whether climate change is hurting sugar harvests in Cuba This way of thinking about manipulation tells us something about how to recognize it. Not every form of non-rational influence seems to be manipulative. What matters in identifying manipulation is not what kind of influence is being used, but whether the influence is being used to put the other person into a better or a worse position to make a decision. The manipulator attempts to get someone to adopt what the manipulator herself regards as an inappropriate belief, emotion, or other mental state. This article was originally published by Aeon, a digital magazine for ideas and culture. Iago knows that Othello has no reason to be jealous, but he gets Othello to feel jealous anyway. All these examples of manipulation share a sense of immorality. Moral persuasion often appeals to empathy, or attempts to convey how it would feel to have others doing to you what you are doing to them. It is endemic to the human condition that we influence each other in all sorts of ways besides pure rational persuasion. But emotional appeals are not always manipulative. Human beings influence each other all the time, and in all sorts of ways. Phishing and other scams manipulate their victims through a combination of deception from outright lies to spoofed phone numbers or URLs and playing on emotions such as greed, fear, or sympathy. Manipulation is dodgy at best, and downright immoral at worst. Even low levels of traffic pollution tied to heart damage Perhaps manipulation is wrong because it harms the person being manipulated. Regular moderate drinking could reduce heart disease risk: When an abusive partner tries to make you feel guilty for suspecting him of the infidelity that he just committed, he is acting manipulatively because he is trying to induce misplaced guilt. The manipulator might do that, but she might also try to get you to feel an inappropriate or inappropriately strong or weak emotion, attribute too much importance to the wrong things e. The liar tries to get you to adopt a false belief. They manipulate Amy into falsely believing — and being outraged — that her ex-partner was not only abusive, but unfaithful as well. It is tempting to think that manipulation is a kind of influence. What makes a statement a lie and what makes it morally wrong are the same thing — that the speaker tries to get someone to adopt what the speaker herself regards as a false belief. If successful, manipulative cigarette ads contribute to disease and death; manipulative phishing and other scams facilitate identity theft and other forms of fraud; manipulative social tactics can support abusive or unhealthy relationships; political manipulation can foment division and weaken democracy. Here are just a few examples. The distinction between manipulation and non-manipulative influence depends on whether the influencer is trying to get someone to make some sort of mistake in what he thinks, feels, doubts, or pays attention to.
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