Derren Brown Masterfully Triggers Yes out of Simon Pegg

No one knows how to Trigger a YES like entertainers do. And of all the world’s most engaging entertainers, there is perhaps no one more persuasive than Derren Brown.

Never heard of him? Brown is one of the world’s leading mentalists, which is like a magician who operates as much on linguistic and social trickery as he does on illusion and sleight of hand. Brown has established a complete portfolio of mind-blowing tricks, including bamboozling a group of impressionable citizens into knocking over an armored car (it was fake, but still).

One of my favorite tricks, however, was the one he pulled on well-known British actor Simon Pegg. I’d rather not spoil it for you, so have a look below before you continue reading:

Brown’s brilliant mental maneuver isn’t only awe-inspiring for purposes of pure novelty. He exercises the 7 Triggers with more gusto than almost any persuader I have ever seen.

Brown uses the Friendship Trigger by establishing that he has bought Simon Pegg a present. This very present is something he told him he would get him for his birthday far before their meeting, signaling that he is indeed a real buddy. He also speaks to him in a direct, honest, simple and friendly way when they meet.

Brown’s explanation of the feeling you get when you receive a present as well as his live dissection of the possibilities surrounding the box establish him as a leading thinker in the particular topic he is presenting to Pegg, exercising the Authority Trigger.

The key to the trick as a whole (SPOILER ALERT! Watch the video now before reading any further) is to create an environment that takes the participant in the experiment (Pegg) halfway to a specified psychological habitat, then allow that person’s mind to fill in the gaps in a way that makes sense, a classic case of the Consistency Trigger.

The Reciprocity Trigger allows Brown to get a little from Pegg each time he gives him a little information. This trigger is less the focus of the trick than the Consistency Trigger is, but the entire experiment has a reciprocal feel to it as well.

Brown offers Pegg the opportunity to take his old preferred top present, a leather jacket, rather than his newly preferred present, a BMX Bike. This sets up a clear yet distinct set of choices: the Contrast Trigger in action.

Brown offers Pegg plenty of reasons to choose the present he winds up with. While these are mostly indirect, they still show hints of the Reason Why Trigger.

Finally, Brown allows Pegg to choose his own present and determine whether or not the item in the box is exactly what he wants. He decided it is, pinpointing the present as perfect for him. Even the Hope Trigger has an impact.

Derren Brown’s amazing usage of the 7 Triggers permeates much of his routine, reminding us that anyone is capable of engaging in a little mentalism once in a while. Now go out there, buy someone a gift, and trick them into liking it.

To see how this kind of persuasion can help in the context of keeping your employees, check out our pieces on using the 7 Triggers to create employee bonding and trust.


  • Andrew

    This is a great example of influencing someone through subtle suggestions, think there is a lot of NLP techniques going on here. So surprised how Simon Pegg is so sure that he wanted a BMX at the end of it. shows you how brain washing really works