Here is the full transcript of psychiatrist Raj Persaud’s TEDx Talk presentation on The Psychology of Seduction at TEDxUniversityofBristol conference. Rajendra Persaud, also known as Raj Persaud is an English consultant psychiatrist, broadcaster and author of popular books about psychiatry.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: The psychology of seduction by Raj Persaud at TEDxUniversityofBristol
What’s the one decision that you are going to make in your life that’s going to determine your future mental health, happiness and well-being more than any other decision you’re going to make? Well, that decision is who you choose to marry. Or put another way, who you choose to enter into a long-term, committed monogamous relationship. If you get that decision wrong, and you end up with the wrong person, then that’s going to cause you more unhappiness and distress than any other decision in your life. In fact, it’s going to be so bad that you might as well get a season ticket to my psychiatric clinic.
Now, the survey data suggests that around the world 99% of the population desire a single committed, monogamous long-term relationship. It’s something that everyone wants, so how to get that decision right is extremely important. There are many different aspects of that decision we could discuss – we could talk, for example, about how to know when you’ve met the right person. But because it’s a big and complicated subject I’m going to focus just on one aspect in the short time I’ve got to talk to you today. And that aspect is going to be: how to seduce. Or to put it in more common British parlance: how to pull.
I became interested in the subject as a psychiatrist, when I had a moment of epiphany in a clinic. I was working in the outpatient department at my psychiatric hospital. I was consulting with a young lady who was pretty depressed, and all of a sudden she announced in the middle of the consultation: “Dr. Persaud, I don’t need Prozac, I need a boyfriend.” It was at that moment that I realized that more success in relationships would go a long way to improving people’s happiness. That if we could help people improve their relationships and how they conduct relationships it would go a long way to improving their mental health. Hence I got interested in the science of seduction.
Now it’s very important you understand that my interest in the science of seduction is purely academic, clinical, scientific. I have no personal interest in the subject. Indeed before I came this evening to give you this talk my wife said it’s very important you make sure they don’t think you’re some kind of academic geek who started reading about the science of seduction because you found the whole relationship thing kind of puzzling.
When the publishers rang me up for the first time to ask me to write my first book on seduction, I rang my wife, I was very excited. I said, “Darling, the publishers have just rung me up and they have commissioned me to write the very next book they want to publish on how to seduce.” There was a distinct silence down the line, and then my wife said, “Yes, but why you?” Which I thought was somewhat harsh.
The other reason why I think seduction is very important is that it actually goes to the heart of a huge amount of human happiness. You see, people come to me at my clinic and they tell me all about the things they want from life and the world that they are not getting. And they are very frustrated. They may want to date, they may want a Ferrari in their garage, or they may want a million pounds in their bank account. They always tell me what they want and what they’re not getting. What they don’t tell me is what they need to give in order to get what they want.
You see, at the heart of life, is a transaction. You can get what you want from the world and life, but you have to be able to give something that the world wants and you need to give it first. I’m going to let you into a little secret that all of the most highly effective people on the planet already intuitively know, and that is, life is a seduction. We need to seduce the world and the people in it and seduce life into giving us the things that we want. And in order to seduce successfully, we need to make the world the right offer.
You see, in a general sense, we need to be constantly seducing our friends, our lovers as well, but our work colleagues, in a strictly, perhaps not erotic sense of the word, but we need to be seducing them into giving us the things that we want.
Now I know already many of you are going to be a bit disappointed you were sitting there hoping I was going to give you some hot tips on how to seduce in terms of the more narrow erotic sense of the word ‘seduction’. Well, the good news is yes, some of the tips I’m about to give you will be helpful if you came here focused on the more narrow erotic sense of the word ‘seduction’. The bad news is if you have been sitting here really locked in and focused in on getting some hot tips on how to seduce in more narrow erotic sense of the word, well, that says so much about you.
So the other thing I want to say before I finally reveal these tips is what I like about them is how democratic they are. What they kind of say is that anyone can become more seductive. It doesn’t really matter how hot you look, or how cool you are. I find that most people seem to have rather low self-esteem when it comes to seduction. They kind of think, “I can’t be really seductive.” What’s really amazing about the social psychology of seduction is what it says is anyone can become more seductive and indeed some of these tips are so powerful you can leap ahead of even the hottest person that you know or the coolest member of your social group and become more seductive than them.
So, the first tip comes from a really interesting social psychology experiment. In the social psychology experiment, the social psychologist and academic working in the university department recruited some students to be confederates of the experimenter. He sends the students out on a date, they invite people to come on a date with students. The person invited to come on a date thinks it’s just a date but actually there’s a social psychology experiment going on. The social psychologist instructs the students who was a confederate of the experimenter to throughout the date agree with everything the other person is saying. Then at the end of date it’s revealed that actually there was a social psychology experiment going on and a rating is secured for how attractive the student confederate was found given how they behaved during the date.
In the first condition of the experiment, the student confederate goes out and just agrees with everything the other person says on the date and an attraction rating is secured at the end and people are found moderately attractive in that condition.
In the second condition of the experiment, the student confederate is sent out on a date and is instructed to disagree with everything the other person says. So it goes a bit like this: “I really like this restaurant you picked, it’s very lovely, what do you think?” “No, I don’t like it.” “I thought the fish was rather nice, what do you think about it.” “No, I don’t like it.” It comes as no surprise if you spend the whole date doing that disagreeing with everything the other person says you’re not really found very attractive at all. So far, so obvious.