Credibility for Psychic Entertainers

🕔 3 min 

As a mentalist, one of your most invaluable assets is credibility. But what exactly do we mean by credibility?

Essentially, it's your ability to convince others that your words and actions are genuine. This is what psychologists refer to as "impression management." A skillful communicator adeptly controls their impressions to establish and maintain credibility. This means your words, attire, and body language must consistently align with both your past performances and what you present in your current act.

Nobody's perfect, and that's actually a good thing in our field. Social norms dictate that certain behaviors are seen as credible. The ability to deliver on promises—or at least come close most of the time—is highly valued. Interestingly, studies have shown that acknowledging one's mistakes can actually enhance credibility. This insight led me to rethink my earlier belief that professional mentalists should only highlight their successes. Imperfections, it turns out, make you more credible; a mentalist who never errs can seem less believable. Many seasoned performers have even skewed secretly obtained information to elicit stronger audience reactions. Don't be afraid of occasional misses; they can work in your favor.

If you find this idea counterintuitive, consider historical figures: those deemed too perfect often faced persecution and disbelief. People tend to distrust and scrutinize the overly flawless, perhaps because most of us are inherently imperfect and can feel resentful towards those who appear otherwise.

Another critical factor in building credibility is association. As my mother always told me, "You are who you associate with." She was right—more than I knew. Power and credibility are intertwined. Being connected with influential people and symbols of power—like wealth, prestige, knowledge, or status—boosts your own credibility. You don’t need connections at the highest levels, but local affiliations with service clubs, political groups, and other prominent organizations can be very beneficial. Some even leverage religion to bolster credibility, tapping into perhaps the most potent symbol of power.

Knowledge is another cornerstone of credibility. It’s nearly impossible to be fully credible without it. Public opinion polls consistently show high regard for academics, which is why many in our field adopt titles like doctor or professor. These titles come with an expectation of deep knowledge, which takes time and dedication to acquire. While formal education isn't a requirement for mentalists, continual learning and improvement are essential. You should be an expert not only in psychic phenomena but also in various other subjects. Impeccable language skills and staying informed about current events are crucial—they fuel discussions and enhance your predictions. Additionally, keeping a library of popular psychology books is a wise investment.

Lastly, two more elusive yet vital aspects of credibility are compassion and sensitivity. Genuine care for others is indispensable. Without it, you’re no more credible than a card trickster claiming psychic powers. Think about it: the people we trust the most are those who show a genuine interest in us and our well-being.

Experts often argue that your subliminal qualities—those you may not even be aware of—significantly influence your credibility. Mastering body language is a powerful tool in this regard. Psychology has long acknowledged that people respond to the subtle cues given by others, whether those signals are sent intentionally or not.

Many psychics/mentalists delve deeply into researching their methods/effects but still fall short in their professions, often blaming bad luck. The real issue, however, is usually a lack of credibility. Rather than bemoaning fate, they would do well to invest time in reading and learning—starting perhaps with a book on body language—to better project the desired signals.

Remember, credibility isn’t just about what you know or how you appear; it’s about genuinely connecting with your audience and making them believe in the experience you’re creating together.

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So much cleverly useful information in a such a concise post. Many thanks.

Dale Curwin

I just watched Jon Ensor’s TED talk 5 min. ago and his talk was on this topic. THANK YOU!

Gregory Dwyer

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