“Know thyself!” can be understood in a number of ways. One interpretation may be that knowing our own opinions on various subjects is quite useful.

However, it turns out we may end end up constructing very convincing arguments against our initial standpoint and… we’ll do it totally unbeknownst to ourselves!

So, how to make someone do that? For a start get a clipboard, some glue and perform a little trick. The rest is here: People Can Be Tricked into Reversing Their Opinions on Morality” 



  • trick/fool someone into doing something – use deception to make someone do something
  • expose – make something visible
  • reword – put something into different words
  • unequivocally – leaving no doubt
  • replicate – (here) to repeat a scientific experiment
  • subsequently – afterwards
  • diverse – showing a great deal of variety
  • hold an attitude – have an opinion
  • endorse – publicly declare that you support or approve of something


Think about it

  • Who participated in the study?
  • In your own words describe the “magic trick”.
  • What is “choice blindness”?
  • What did the experiment reveal about self-report questionnaires?
  • What were the reactions and comments of other scientists?


Practice makes perfect

In the sentences below replace the phrases in bold with the expressions from the original text. Leave your answers in the comments below!


  • Two statements in every hidden set had been paraphrased to reverse the meaning of the original statements.
  • Large-scale governmental control of e-mail and Internet traffic should not be allowed as a way to fight international crime and terrorism.
  • About half of the participants did not notice the alterations, and 69% accepted at least one of the changed statements.
  • People even wanted to argue in favor of the reversed statements: A full 53% of participants argued explicitly for the opposite of their original viewpoint in at least one of the manipulated statements,
  • It would be good to see the results repeated with a more varied group of participants and a broader range of claims, including those more likely to be significant in people’s everyday judgment and behavior.


Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words.

  • People can be tricked ______ reversing their opinions ______ moral issues.
  • The researchers, led by Lars Hall, a cognitive scientist ____ Lund University ____ Sweden, recruited 160 volunteers to fill ____ a 2-page survey ____ the extent ____ which they agreed ____ 12 statements.
  • People were even willing to argue ___ favor ___ the reversed statements.
  • This article is reproduced ___ permission ___ the magazine Nature.


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