The Anatomy of Charisma

Less than a month until the publication of the Bodybuilders! I've been holding my fire on blog posts as I plan which pieces of the book to break out for stand alone stories in publications. In the meantime, I wanted to share a couple of my latest stories on the anatomy of charisma.

In my book, I wrote about some of the secrets technology is revealing about the human potential for resilience and new abilities. In these stories, I set out to learn what science and technology tell us about leaders, and people we just can't help but like. I also asked one of the researchers to analyze a sermon delivered by the most popular charismatic preacher in the world, Joel Osteen. He actually assigned a graduate student to "code" it, looking for specific charismatic leadership tactics that activate our innate tendency to identify with and trust someone.

You can read that here.

Charisma has two sides. "It can be used to heat a house -- or burn it down," as one guy in the story told me. Which makes the topic especially relevant right now in the age of Trump. Charisma is, of course, relative. Many of my left-leaning, east coast pals seem immune to the Donald's charm. But ask any Trump voter if he has is it, and they'll most likely tell you he does. We should all be aware that when we fall under the spell of a charismatic -- whether its Trump, Clinton, Obama, or the guy selling used cars at the corner lot -- our brains often enter a state akin to that used by successful hypnotists to make their subjects bark like a dog. We turn off the executive control regions of the cortex. We down regulate our analytical mind. We let ourselves be flooded with positive emotions, and we prepare to follow.

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