The Confidence Game

The Psychology of the Con and Why We Fall for It Every Time

Maria Konnikova

At some point, everyone will be deceived. Everyone will fall victim to a confidence artist of one stripe or another. Everyone will fall for it. The real question is why
The Confidence Game by Maria Konnikova (Paperback ISBN 9781782113911) book cover

Available as Paperback, eBook, Downloadable audio

A compelling investigation into the minds, motives and methods of con artists by a New York Times bestselling psychologist

True con artists - the Bernie Madoffs, the Clark Rockefellers, the Lance Armstrongs - are elegant, outsized personalities, artists of persuasion and exploiters of trust. They hold a deep, enigmatic fascination for us. But how do they do it? Why are they successful? And what keeps us falling for it, over and over again?

Whether it’s a suspicious-looking email or a multimillion-dollar global swindle, Maria Konnikova investigates the psychological principles that underlie each stage of the confidence game - from the initial put-up, where the artist identifies the victim, to the eventual fix, where the artist persuades the victim to stay quiet. Exploring the psychological profile of both the con artist and his mark, we learn how grifters can be so persuasive, even to those of us who consider ourselves immune, and how we can train ourselves to discern the signs of a story that isn’t quite what it seems. Insightful and entertaining, telling fascinating stories about some of the most seductive imposters in history, The Confidence Game takes us into the world of the con to examine not only why we believe in confidence artists but how our sense of truth can be manipulated by those around us.


“A fascinating look at the psychology behind every hustle”
economist

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“The story of the con artist may be unmatched for combining human interest with insight into human nature, and star psychology writer Maria Konnikova explains their wiles to us with her characteristic clarity, flair and depth”
Steven Pinker

“Remarkable … The Confidence Game will widen your eyes and sharpen your mind”
Daniel H. Pink

“In a world of pseudoscience, Maria Konnikova’s calm rationality is comforting and smart”
Jon Ronson

“If you liked Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, you’ll love this lucid and revelatory look into our oh-so-susceptible selves”
Erik Larson
author Of The Devil In The White City


Maria Konnikova

Maria Konnikova was born in Moscow and grew up in the United States. Her first book, Mastermind, was a New York Times bestseller. She is a contributing writer for The New Yorker, where she writes a regular column with a focus on psychology and culture, and her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Scientific American MIND and The Smithsonian, among numerous other publications.