6 Dark Psychology Tricks To Beware Of

Do you know what dark psychology is? Sounds intruiging, right? Although not a formal branch of the field, dark psychology has become a topic of interest among the general public because it refers to the study and application of psychological phenomena involved in the exploitation and manipulation of people. 

And while awareness of these tactics is essential for protecting oneself, it is equally important to recognize that not everyone who employs psychological strategies does so with malicious intent. In fact, many of the phenomena we will be describing here were discovered in research that aimed to better understand isolated cases of disturbing human behavior and use it for social reform. 

With that said, let’s learn more about some dark psychology tricks to beware of to better safeguard our minds against manipulation.


This theory was developed by social psychologist Dr. Irving Janis in his 1972 study on foreign policy decisions. In his research on the Pearl Harbor bombing, the Vietnam War, and the Bay of Pigs invasion, Janis was perplexed as to why these groups of highly intelligent individuals all failed to see that they were making very obviously bad decisions. He found that most people have a cognitive bias when in cohesive groups that leads them to  accept a viewpoint or conclusion that represents a perceived group consensus, regardless of whether or not they themselves believe it to be true or right. Recognizing the influence of groupthink, however, can better help us to maintain our autonomy and contribute more effectively within group settings.

Obedience to Authority

Have you ever heard of the infamous Stanley Milgram obedience experiments? Often cited as one of the most unethical psychological studies and widely referenced in dark psychology, Milgram aimed to study obedience to authority by examining how far people would go in obeying authority if it involved harming another person. Disturbingly, he found that participants were willing to administer potentially lethal electric shocks to others if an authority figure ordered them to, even if it conflicted with their personal values or judgment. So understanding the factors that influence obedience to authority can help guard against blindly following unethical or manipulative directives. 

The Bystander Effect

The bystander effect refers to the social phenomenon wherein individuals are less likely to intervene or help in an emergency situation when others are present. According to psychologist Kendra Cherry, this diffusion of responsibility occurs because people assume others will take action, leading to inaction and a decreased likelihood of assistance. Manipulators can exploit the bystander effect by creating situations where individuals hesitate to question or challenge the manipulative behavior, assuming someone else will address the issue. But understanding the bystander effect can encourage proactive engagement and empower individuals to resist manipulation collectively.

Love Bombing

Psychologist Dr. Alaina Tiani defines love bombing as an intense and overwhelming display of affection, attention, and admiration used to establish control and dependence. Manipulators shower their targets with affection and compliments initially, but over time, they devalue and criticize them as a way of eroding their self-esteem and fostering reliance on the manipulator. Recognizing the pattern of love bombing and devaluation can help break free from toxic and manipulative relationships.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is a psychological manipulation technique employed to deceive and exploit individuals by exploiting their trust, gullibility, or desire to help others. It often involves impersonation, deception, and manipulation of social norms to trick people into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that benefit the manipulator. Some common examples include: catfishing, phishing, or pretending to need help (like how Ted Bundy infamously lured most of his victims). To protect yourself, be cautious of unsolicited requests, verify identities and intentions, and maintain a healthy level of skepticism, especially in online interactions. 

Manipulative Persuasion

Manipulative persuasion involves using deceptive tactics to influence someone’s thoughts, emotions, or behaviors for personal gain, often without the individual’s full awareness. Harvard researcher and psychologist Ryan Mace explains that manipulators may exploit various techniques, such as appealing to emotions, creating a sense of urgency, spreading misinformation, fear mongering, or using flattery to sway individuals to their advantage. Thus, it is essential to develop critical thinking skills and question the motives behind persuasive tactics to avoid being manipulated, says Mace. Maintaining awareness of one’s own emotional responses and being more assertive can also counter manipulative tactics.

Understanding the dark psychology tricks employed by manipulators is crucial in safeguarding your mind and protecting yourself from manipulation. Building self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking skills will also empower you to maintain control over your thoughts, actions, and decisions. Remember, knowledge is power, and by staying informed, you can navigate the complex world of human psychology with greater resilience and autonomy.

So Psych2Goers, what are your thoughts on this video? Did you find it interesting and informative? What are some other dark psychology tricks you think more people should beware of? Let us know in the comments down below!


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