The Ripley Attribution Play

Change the way Other Guys attribute and change the way they feel and act. We noted this most recently with the Talented Mr. Ripley and today we make the Play explicit.

Attributions are explanations, how the Other Guy understands the world and most importantly assigns causality for events. Looking only at Internal (I did it) and External (The devil made me do it) Attributions, the persuasion impact is obvious. Each type motivates wildly different perceptions and actions from the Other Guy. For example, if you want people to wait for your command, put them in an External state; by contrast if you want self motivated people, tickle an Internal state.

In the Primer we’ve looked at a variety of ways you can persuade Attributions with the Attribution Jam as the simplest. Pick the proper Box, then when the Other Guys are in that Box, you ask aloud, Why?, then immediately provide your desired Casual Explanation, and the Other Guys will tend to accept it, then behave accordingly. Thus, a teacher might wait until a class is quietly working on assignments, then ask, Why? to which the teacher says, You Must Be Hard Working! providing an Internal Attribution that many kids will easily accept thus making themselves responsible for doing work.

From watching movies we can now add the Ripley Attribution Play.

First, you must listen to how Other Guys offer explanations. It’s not a matter of what they like or dislike, believe or disbelieve, but a matter of why they like or believe. Listen for the Attributions the Other Guys make about the people, events, and outcomes in life. For example, you might observe your Other Guy likes Another Other Guy because that AOG is creative and imaginative. Hold that attribution.

Second, wait for the Box when you want the Other Guy to mistrust that Another Other Guy. When something suspicious about that Another Other Guy occurs, you ask aloud, Why? Then you immediately requote the Other Guy and that creative and imaginative attribution. For example, your Other Guy might say, “Dickie told me he was alone last night but I saw him out with a group of new people at the movies.” To which you reply, “Well, I hadn’t realized it until you noticed it several days ago when you said that Dickie is very creative and imaginative and can easily make things up. I guess you’re right – lying comes easily to him.”

The genius of the Ripley Attribution Play is that you use the Other Guy’s own words to manipulate the explanations you prefer. You employ the single most credible persuasion source in everyone’s experience: Themselves. Hey, you said it, so it must be true. Of course, the persuasion trick here is to shift meanings ever so slightly so that creativity is lying.

I’d encourage you to watch the Talented Mr. Ripley again with an eye to this persuasion play. It is the dominate tactic Ripley employs with everyone in all situations. He is a keen observer of Other Guys so he lasers in on how they think, most particularly, how they attribute. He then uses their attributions from the past to shape the perceptions and explanations about the present and the future. Thus, Ripley is able to hide in plain sight, committing terrible crimes, attracting suspicion, but then quickly redirecting that suspicion to another person with his Attribution plays.

Realize the Rule!

It’s about the Other Guy, Stupid.

Ripley surveils Other Guys as a master psychologist always aiming at unraveling Them. Ripley understands everyone better than they know themselves. He then seizes upon that Other Guy knowledge and applies it, judo-like, to throw Them wherever Ripley aims.

Art Copies Persuasion and Persuasion Copies Art!