The movie “Focus” and priming

In the movie Focus, which stars actor Will Smith, he explains how he used number priming. In class we talked about word or letter priming. A section of the movie shows how this man will bet on anything! So actor Will Smith shows how he could get this man to pick the number he wanted him to pick by using priming. Unconsciously Will Smith is priming this man in order for him to win this bet.

Will Smith tells the man i bet you that you can randomly pick a football player on that field and i bet i can guess who you pick! Well Will was priming this man alllll day to see the number 55. He also uses a mix of visual priming as well. At the beginning of the day before the man was to pick his football player, he was surrounded by the number 55, but did not know it. First the man woke up and left his hotel room, where the chandelier had the number 55 on it, then while waiting in the elevator,  there was a poster with the same number on it. Now the man walks through the lobby he is surrounded by people in jerseys with the number 55 on it. Now the man is leaving the hotel and the door man even has a small pin with the number….55 on it! While getting into his car, his driver passes more people in the same jersey with the number 55, and he also is surrounded by protesters who are holding up signs up with the number on it. Now the man doesn’t see it, but he does,  the driver comes to a stop and the man sees a taxi cab driver yelling at people. The man clearly sees the angry taxi cab driver. Even the song choice the man listens to is priming him. The man speaks in another native language and the song says woo in it, well in his native language, woo means 5. The song says woo woo 124 times. The man picks up his binoculars to see which person/ number he is going to pick……and……..

Will Smith is ready to guess which number he picked, and of course you can guess the man picked 55. When the man picked he saw a familiar face because the football player 55 was the angry taxi cab driver that he had saw earlier that day. The man picked number 55 because he was being primed all day and he saw a familiar face in the jersey so a little voice in his mind was telling him to pick number 55!

i thought this at first was crazy because i didn’t even notice that he was being primed until Will Smith explained how he primed the man. After being in multiple Psychology classes and learning more about priming, i have learned how you can make people think what you want them to! I couldn’t believe i was being primed while watching the movie because we notice it but we do notice it. I was wanting to do a mini experiment with this within my own life to see if i could prime a friend in a similar way. This is something cool we could try on our friends and family at home. Only difference is that in the movie WIll Smith came into some major MONEY and we will not! BUT it would be cool to test on someone without them knowing.

5 thoughts on “The movie “Focus” and priming

  1. chrise

    This is hilarious!

    Funny because I wanted to include a principle of priming in my blog about magicians utilizing priming in their magic tricks, but ultimately the only example, that can be proven that is, is the movie ‘now you see me’. In that movie, the magicians use the same priming principles that Will does to influence their audience members and their victims of the magic trick. To be honest, since this principle of priming is used in movies, or rather shown, I wonder how priming is abused in the real world. Luckily I do not watch much T.V, but I be willing to bet that many of the ads in T.V or campaigns for candidates running for office contain some type of priming in them.

  2. ldanby

    I think this kind of stuff is crazy! It’s amazing to think about the fact that, without our knowledge, people can easily prime us to get what they want. I just think about different ways retail and other industries can use priming to their advantage to make us spend tons of money on things we don’t need. It’s crazy what people can talk us into and how we can not even realize its happening!

  3. Mary Meghan Rice

    First off, I have to watch this movie now! That sounds awesome! I am also the kind of person that learns more by watching or seeing so I think I would get an amazing understanding of priming from this! I am very interested in the idea that the more you see (whether consciously or unconsciously) something the more obvious it is…is this like when you buy a new car that becomes the most popular car and basically the only car you see on the road? It also makes me wonder how many times I have fallen for something like this (hopefully not this intense) without even realizing it!

  4. Natalie Johns

    I’ll be honest that it wasn’t one of my favorite movies with of Will Smith but I loved that scene so much. I think it would be funny to try this in real life (maybe with a bunch of friends helping you out) to see if this actually works. We obviously have evidence on how important and influential priming is and how it affects us, but to test it on such a large scale similar to the scene in Focus in real life would be really fun to try. Its awesome now knowing “hey this isn’t an impossibility” because we’re learning about how priming works and the way this movie uses priming is accurate.

  5. Samantha Woodside

    This is so crazy to think that priming someone could really be this easy. It makes me look at a different perspective about what I have possibly done to prime someone and maybe what other people have done to prime me without my awareness of it! Looking back at one of my favorite shows, Supernatural, there is an episode about magicians and I truly believe knowing this information now that the magicians were trying to prime the audience to fall for their tricks in their prime (no pun intended)! This also makes me think about how priming could be abused like with advertisements and sales in stores. I’m more than sure I have fallen for that.

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