Farnam Street helps you make better decisions, innovate, and avoid stupidity.

With over 400,000 monthly readers and more than 93,000 subscribers to our popular weekly digest, we've become an online intellectual hub.

How Con Artists Exploit Human Behaviour

Fascinating (read the PDF! summary below)

The seven principles of human behaviour that con artists exploit, according to the article:


  1. The distraction principle: While you are distracted by what retains your interest, hustlers can do anything to you and you won’t notice.
  2. The social compliance principle: Society trains people not to question authority. Hustlers exploit this “suspension of suspiciousness” to make you do what they want.
  3. The herd principle: Even suspicious marks will let their guard down when everyone next to them appears to share the same risks. Safety in numbers? Not if they’re all conspiring against you.
  4. The dishonesty principle: Anything illegal you do will be used against you by the fraudster, making it harder for you to seek help once you realize you’ve been had.
  5. The deception principle: Things and people are not what they seem. Hustlers know how to manipulate you to make you believe that they are.
  6. The need and greed principle: Your needs and desires make you vulnerable. Once hustlers know what you really want, they can easily manipulate you.
  7. The Time principle: When you are under time pressure to make an important choice, you use a different decision strategy. Hustlers steer you towards a strategy involving less reasoning.

See the PDF