Influence & misrepresentation

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Influence & misrepresentation


Extending from the discussion of lying last week, let's move to the more general topic of influencing others and misrepresentation.

Is it okay to influence others? What are the situations where influencing others seems wrong, dodgy, immoral, etc?

Is there a firm line between an honest influence effort and an effort which uses mis-representation? Who decides that line?

What is the line between misrepresentation and misunderstanding - ie, who bears the responsibility, the communicator or the receiver or both to some degree?

What is the importance of truth-value when we engage in efforts to influence others? For instance, can we lie, to influence others if it is for a "good" end?

Forms of influence with various degrees of misrepresentation:

- puffery / exaggeration - saying something extreme that no-one is expected to believe (e.g., this laundry detergent washes whiter than white)

- nagging, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, social influence, nudging/behavioral economics

- positive punishment (stick), negative punishment (removing something positive)

Machiavelli & the use of influence for the good - even if the means are a bit (a lot!) dodgy



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