Manipulation is something that in some way or another affects and has an impact on everyone’s lives. Manipulation occurs in every aspect of life, this includes work, and many different kinds of relationships. Because manipulation is so subtle and under the radar most people do not realize that they are being manipulated. In the following literature review three areas of manipulation will be covered: (1) How manipulation plays a role in dating relationships. (2) Manipulation and sexual coercion. (3) Interpersonal orientation and gender.
Relationships: how manipulation plays a role
The definition of manipulation, according to Buss (1987) “is the means by which individuals intentionally (although not necessarily consciously) alter, influence or shape those selected environments”(p.479). This idea of manipulation is interesting because people change their behavior due to others actions. Research studies how people manipulate each other and how it relates to different types of personality features. Buss, Gomes, Higgins, and Lauterbach (1987) come up with six tactics of manipulation in the circumstance of dating relationships. These are: Debasement, Regression, Reason, Coercion, Silent treatment, and charm. In studies, these tactic showed differences distinguishing them from each other in situations where they were behaviorally investigated. However, not all researchers agree that these are the only six tactics. Buss (1992) hypothesized that there were more and found an additional six factors related to manipulation. Below are a list of the twelve ways to manipulate and an example of each. Examples of the twelve manipulation tactics used:
Manipulation technique Example
CoercionMake her do it
Responsibility invocationMake a schedule for doing it
RegressionThrow a fit till she does it
Reciprocity-reward Promise a favor if she will do it
DebasementMake myself sad until she will do it
HardballThreaten to hurt her unless she does it
CharmSay nice thing to her so she will do it
ReasonGive a list of why she should do it
Silent treatmentDon’t talk to her till she does it
Pleasure inductionExplain how great it will be
Social comparison Explain she will be the only one not doing it Monetary rewardGive her a gift if she does it
One line of interesting research deals with linking the factors to personality features. Are some types of people more likely than others to use hardball techniques? If so, who? A five-factor model of personality exists including surgency, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and intellect-openness (Digman & Inouye, 1986; McCrae & Costa, 1985). Researchers think it’s important to locate the consequences of different personality factors. How do different types of personalities interact with each other? Buss (1992) looked at the manipulation techniques and personality factors of different types of close relationships. This research found that overall the results showed a higher use of tactics by a spouses than in other relationships. This could be because spouses spend the most time together. Buss (1992) also found that certain personalities used certain manipulation techniques. The following table summarizes these findings.
Personality FactorMost used manipulation tactic
SurgencyCoercion, Responsibility, Invocation
Agreeableness Pleasure induction
This line of research is interesting in learning more about manipulation and personalities.
A Deeper Look at Manipulation: Sexual Coercion
There are many manipulation tactics, but one of the most widely researched is coercion. This is probably true because coercion is used a great deal in sexual relationships. For decades research has been done sexually coercive behavior. Sexually coercive behavior can be defined as “the act of using...