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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 03-Jul-06


Monday 03-Jul-06

The power of coffee

Most weekdays I take the 6am commuter train into London to work. I have chummed up with a bunch of other guys who are equally mad to be awake and out at that ridiculous hour. We wake up together on Waterloo station and put the world to rights with a nice fresh cup of coffee from the AMT stand.

Coffee is such a nice way to start the day. And it is a whole lot more too.

It is fairly well known that going for a coffee with somebody can help you persuade them. A key reason why this works is that 'having a coffee' moves the person out of any threatening formal situation and puts them into a relaxed and friendly environment. With their guard down and friendly trust increased, they are more open to suggestion. Sales people know this well and many deals have been closed over coffee, lunch or dinner.

Recent research has extended this wisdom, discovering a narcotic effect of coffee that makes a person more persuadable. To really test the changing of minds, the topics for persuasion were picked as euthanasia and abortion -- two subjects on which most people have really strong views and where powerful persuasion would be normally be needed to change opinions. In the tests, where everything was kept the same other than the coffee, a significant increase in persuasion occurred, with an optimum 'dose' of two cups of coffee.

The basic explanation was that the caffeine increased attention to the message through the central route and hence also increased acceptance, as in the Elaboration Likelihood Model.

The implications are obvious: if you are getting into any negotiation, offer the other side coffee, but drink something else yourself!

Your comments

 As a child, I was diagnosed with Hyperactivity disorder. Prior to that, it was Called Minimal Brain Disorder. The prescription was, GASP! a stimulant. This was 35 years ago. My folks tried it, but being unable to get me to go to bed as it was, decided against it. The Doctor keenly suggested they serve me coffee instead. Morning after morning, my mother and I sat at the kitchen table in our robes drinking Coffee, before I went off to Terrorize My fist Grade Teacher, Mrs. Slike, by not remaining in my seat. I turned out OK, but I'm not much of a salesman. Juan Valdez, on the other Hand, Is.

So I raise my Cup O' Joe to you
and wish you all the best
I never was much of a sales gal
But as a coffee achiever, I aced my English Tests!

-- Gloria I

Dave replies:
Goodness, Gloria. You must have been bouncing off the walls. Hyperactivity is still a subject of debate as to whether it is 'being naughty' or a real condition. People I respect have said that there is a real condition but it is nowhere as widely spread as one might think. Sadly, it can be an excuse for medicating naughtiness.

 My own personal opinion on the ADD debate, is this. I think environment plays a major Role, and I think that Empaths are likely diagnosed with ADD more often than the general public. When you take in what's happening with everyone in your environment as your own, all that excess "clutter" has to be released in some way. It isn't necessarily naughtiness, but I believe, a physical release of sensations you take on from your environment. I believe that with brain plasticity, we may actually affect the development or characteristics of our brain by what we have been exposed to through experience and environment.
The more clutter you are absorbing from your environment, the less likely you will be able to sift through it when you need to retrieve information, or to indeed pay attention when you need to in a learning environment. It amounts to a constant state of varying degrees of anxiety, which keeps the individual from functioning "normally."
However, those with ADD, are generally very intelligent, and highly creative individuals. I believe that they, being likely highly empathic, but unaware of what that means, (a right brain attribute) are by default developing other right brain skills, like creativity itself.
I don't fault my parents for trying to address my situation. They were doing the best they could, and ultimately listening to what the pediatrician recommended. They decided in the end to follow their own instincts, since they thought the meds "took my personality away"
I guess it was endearing after all.
It was a part of my evolution, and evolve we must.

-- Gloria I

Dave replies:
Interesting view, Gloria. The notion of overwhelm from the external world is also a characteristic of autism. I wonder if there's a link.

hey there...this is my first bear with me pals...

for me drinking coffee with added beneficial health effects, like "gano mushroom? antioxidant properties?...and the like", make it more pleasurable in terms of its psychological effect... thinking it will give us stress free day, added immune boosters, slow aging process... blah blah... but you see it helps. Whether the advertisement is true.. it doesn't matter. In one way or another we feel like it's they say-"it's all in the mind" right?

so in your next cup, why not try this one for a change and see for yourself...who knows, you might enjoy it better than others =P

-- cutymitch

 Good Story...

well, coffee isn't just a drink. Some kinda 'Power' enhancer to me, that keeps me awake and focused for hours.

-- Phill

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