The Secret

The mechanism behind this effect is tied into our rather crude nervous system and its automatic response when presented with various kinds of stimuli. Just as our body switches to autopilot when faced with a "flight or fight" scenario, as discussed in "Real Mind Reading," it also reacts without our conscious control in other scenarios.

In the format of this effect, we are asking the volunteer to think of a word representing an exciting act, or object, and then using their internal recall of that word to act as a trigger when a certain condition is met. This is very similar to the Pavlovian experiment where a group of dogs were conditioned over a period of time to salivate when a bell rung.

Obviously we don't have the time to "condition" our subject, so we're going to select our trigger by using the conditioning that they have accumulated throughout their everyday life in our Western society. Generally speaking, most people will generate the most emotive responses from thoughts of either "sex" or "money," but it is possible that ideals such as religion may have a more powerful effect dependant upon the individual.

So what exactly are we looking for? The answer, quite simply, is that when the person thinks of the trigger word, their pupils will uncontrollably dilate (i.e., get bigger). This may seem like an odd claim, but it is a completely natural response of the autonomous nervous system when we see or experience something that we like - think of the saying "my eyes nearly popped out of my head." In that fleeting moment we lose control of some of our body's responses, and our eyes can very noticeably give away a lot of clues about what's going on inside our heads.

The physiological explanation for this response seems to be quite simply, that our brain decides that when it sees something it likes, it wants to take in as much of the image as is possible. The dilation of the pupils allows more light, and hence provides more visual details of the object in question. If you've ever met someone to whom you've felt very strongly attracted physically, you can often notice the change in you vision, along with a corresponding change in heart rate.

Body Language Basics

Body Language Basics

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