The Confidence Game: The Psychology of the Con and Why We Fall for It Every Time

Maria Konnikova

nonfiction psychology science self help
reflective slow-paced

340 pages | first published 2015

True con artists - the Bernie Madoffs, the Clark Rockefellers, the Lance Armstrongs - are elegant outsized personalities, artists of persuasion and exploiters of trust. They hold a deep enigmatic fascination for us. But how do they do it? Why are they successful? And what keeps us falling for it over and over again?

Whether it's a suspicious-looking email or a multimillion-dollar global swindle Maria Konnikova investigates the psychological principles that underlie each stage of the confidence game - from the initial put-up where the artist identifies the victim to the eventual fix where the artist persuades the victim to stay quiet.

Exploring the psychological profile of both the con artist and his mark we learn how grifters can be so persuasive even to those of us who consider ourselves immune and how we can train ourselves to discern the signs of a story that isn't quite what it seems. Insightful and entertaining, telling fascinating stories about some of the most seductive imposters in history, The Confidence Game takes us into the world of the con to examine not only why we believe in confidence artists but how our sense of truth can be manipulated by those around us.

About the Author:

Maria Konnikova was born in Moscow and grew up in the United States. Her first book Mastermind was a New York Times bestseller. She is a contributing writer for The New Yorker where she writes a regular column with a focus on psychology and culture and her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Scientific American MIND and The Smithsonian among numerous other publications.

Maria graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and received her PhD in psychology from Columbia University. She is currently a Schachter Writing Fellow at Columbia University s Motivation Science Center and lives in New York City.

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