Phatic Expressions – A Scammer Manipulation Technique – 2024

Phatic Expressions – A Scammer Manipulation Technique

A Communication Technique Used by Scammers to More Easily Lure In and Groom Scam Victims

Psychology of Scams – A SCARS Insight

Article Abstract

Phatic expressions is a communication style used primarily for social engagement rather than conveying information. These expressions, such as greetings, small talk, and polite phrases, play a crucial role in establishing and maintaining social bonds, ensuring conversational flow, and adhering to social norms.

Scammers exploit phatic language during the grooming phase to build rapport and trust with their victims. By using familiar and friendly expressions, scammers create a facade of normalcy and reliability, which lowers the victim’s defenses and reduces critical thinking. This manipulation creates emotional connections and dependency, making victims more susceptible to the scammer’s influence.

The repeated use of phatic expressions triggers the Mere Exposure Effect, enhancing familiarity and comfort, which the brain often equates with safety. This relaxed state diminishes the vigilance of the prefrontal cortex, reducing the victim’s ability to scrutinize the scammer’s intentions critically.

Consequently, victims find it harder to break away from the scammer and more challenging to recognize the deception, even after the scam is revealed.

SCARS RED BOOK - Crime Organizer - from SCARS Publishing shop.AgainstScams.org

SCARS Recommended Books

SCARS GREEN BOOK - Recovering from the Scam - from SCARS Publishing shop.AgainstScams.org
Phatic Expressions - A Scammer Manipulation Technique - 2024 - on SCARS RomanceScamsNOW.com - The Encyclopedia of Scams

Phatic Language or Phatic Communications Or Phatic Expressions is a Social Engagement Language Style Heavily used by Scammers during the Grooming, Manipulation, and Control Phases of Relationship and other types of Scams

Phatic language, also known as phatic communication or phatic expressions, refers to the use of language primarily for social or relational purposes rather than to convey information or ideas.

What is Phatic Language?

Phatic language serves to establish, maintain, or manage social connections between people. Phatic language includes small talk, greetings, farewells, and other conversational rituals that help facilitate social interactions. The term was introduced by the linguist Bronisław Malinowski.

Some key aspects of phatic language:

Social Bonding: The primary function of phatic expressions is to create and reinforce social bonds. This type of language helps people feel connected and acknowledged in social settings.

Conversational Maintenance: Phatic communication keeps conversations going and prevents awkward silences. It includes phrases like “How are you?” or “Nice weather today,” which may not carry significant informational content but help maintain the flow of conversation.

Politeness and Courtesy: Phatic language often serves to show politeness and respect. Greetings like “Hello,” “Good morning,” and “Thank you” are used to show consideration for others and to adhere to social norms.

Relational Function: It focuses on the relational aspect of communication rather than the transactional. For instance, when someone says “Have a nice day,” the emphasis is on expressing goodwill rather than on conveying factual information.

Examples of phatic expressions include:

  • “Hi, how are you?”
  • “Nice to meet you.”
  • “Take care!”
  • “See you later.”
  • “Have a good one.”

In essence, phatic language is an important part of human interaction, serving to create a sense of community, ease, and most importantly TRUST in social contexts. While it may seem trivial, it plays a crucial role in creating social cohesion and maintaining interpersonal relationships.

Have you ever noticed how people who do not engage in phatic expressions seem rude or distant? This is just an example of how important it is, especially in scams.

Phatic Language in Scams

Phatic language is an important tool used by relationship scammers, especially during the grooming stage, but even after that. This type of language helps scammers build rapport and trust with their victims, making the victims more susceptible to manipulation.

Here are examples of how phatic language is used by scammers and the purposes it serves during the grooming process:

Use of Phatic Language by Relationship Scammers

Building Rapport and Trust:

Greetings and Small Talk: Scammers often start with casual greetings and small talk. They might ask about the victim’s day, comment on the weather, or discuss common interests. These interactions are designed to seem friendly and non-threatening.

Polite and Courteous Phrases: Phrases like “Good morning,” “How was your day?” and “Sleep well” are commonly used to create a sense of normalcy and routine in the interaction, making the victim feel valued and cared for.

Establishing Emotional Connection:

Expressing Interest: By asking seemingly benign questions about the victim’s life, family, and interests, scammers appear genuinely interested in the victim’s well-being, which creates a sense of emotional closeness.

Compliments and Affirmations: Compliments such as “You have a beautiful smile” or “I love talking to you” are used to boost the victim’s self-esteem and create a positive association with the scammer.

Creating a Sense of Intimacy:

Frequent Communication: Regular use of phatic language helps create a feeling of constant presence and attentiveness. Frequent messages like “Good night” or “Thinking of you” make the victim feel like they are in a continuing relationship.

Personalized Greetings: Using the victim’s name frequently and personalized messages can make interactions feel more genuine and intimate. Of course, most scammers do not use the person’s name (sing there is too much risk of mistakes) but they will use ‘Dear’, ‘Honey’, and ‘Sweetheart’ and other endearments that work the same.

Purpose of Phatic Language in Grooming a Scam Victim

Lowering Defenses: Phatic expressions are non-threatening and friendly, which helps lower the victim’s defenses. This makes the victim more open to deeper conversations and more significant emotional manipulation.

Creating a Normalized Relationship: By using everyday conversational rituals, scammers make the relationship appear normal and genuine. This helps the victim accept the scammer as a legitimate part of their social circle.

Building Emotional Dependency: Consistent, seemingly caring communication helps build an emotional dependency. The victim begins to rely on the scammer for emotional support and companionship, making it harder for them to break away when the scam progresses.

Establishing Trust: Trust is a crucial component of successful scams. Phatic language creates a veneer of reliability and normalcy, which is essential for making the victim trust the scammer enough to comply with their eventual requests for money or personal information.

Phatic Language or Expressions and the Scam Victim’s Brain

Phatic expressions play a significant role in the grooming phase of a scam, subtly impacting the victim’s brain in various ways. These expressions are designed to build a sense of connection and trust between the scammer and the victim, setting the stage for further manipulation.

Here are examples of how they affect the brain of the scam victim:

Building Trust and Rapport: Phatic expressions, such as small talk and casual greetings, create a facade of normalcy and friendliness. The brain interprets these as social signals that someone is trustworthy and likable. This activates the brain’s reward system (striatum,) releasing neurotransmitters like dopamine, which contribute to feelings of pleasure and bonding. As a result, the victim becomes more open and receptive to the scammer.

Reducing Critical Thinking: Engaging in light, non-threatening conversation helps lower the victim’s defenses. Phatic communication bypasses the brain’s critical thinking and analytical centers, which might otherwise raise red flags. The prefrontal cortex, responsible for decision-making and reasoning, becomes less active when the conversation seems harmless and routine, allowing the scammer to gradually introduce more manipulative elements. See more about this below.

Creating a Sense of Belonging: Human brains are wired to seek social connections and belonging. Phatic expressions exploit this by making the victim feel included and valued. Phrases like “How was your day?” or “It’s great to hear from you!” trigger feelings of social acceptance and affiliation, which are processed in the brain’s limbic system. This emotional connection makes the victim more susceptible to the scammer’s influence.

Lowering Guard Through Familiarity: Repeated use of phatic expressions creates familiarity, which the brain often equates with safety. The scammer’s consistent, friendly communication patterns create a cognitive bias known as the “mere-exposure effect,” where the victim starts to feel more comfortable and less suspicious simply because they are frequently interacting with the same person.

Emotional Manipulation: Phatic expressions can also be tailored to elicit specific emotional responses. Compliments, expressions of concern, and empathy trigger the brain’s mirror neurons, which are involved in understanding and sharing emotions. This creates a sense of empathy and emotional connection with the scammer, making the victim more likely to comply with requests or share personal information.

Building a Narrative: Over time, phatic communication helps build a narrative of a relationship. The brain constructs a mental story (see temporoparietal junction) based on these interactions, reinforcing the perceived legitimacy of the scammer. This narrative can overshadow logical inconsistencies and red flags, as the victim’s brain focuses on the emotional and relational aspects rather than the factual ones.

Phatic expressions during the grooming phase of a scam subtly manipulate the victim’s brain by building trust, reducing critical thinking, creating a sense of belonging, fostering familiarity, eliciting emotional responses, and constructing a convincing narrative. This psychological groundwork paves the way for deeper manipulation and exploitation as the scam progresses.

How Phatic Expressions Reduce Critical Thinking

Phatic expressions reduce critical thinking in the brain by creating a sense of familiarity and safety, which leads to a relaxed mental state. This relaxation can suppress the brain’s natural skepticism and analytical processes, making it easier for scammers to manipulate their victims.

Here’s a deeper dive into how this happens:

Activation of the Default Mode Network (DMN)

Phatic expressions often involve routine, mundane conversations that don’t require much cognitive effort. When engaged in such familiar and low-stakes interactions, the brain’s Default Mode Network (DMN) becomes more active. The DMN is associated with mind-wandering, daydreaming, and relaxed states. When the DMN is active, the brain is less engaged in critical analysis and more focused on social and emotional processing.

Diminished Prefrontal Cortex Activity

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is responsible for higher-order functions such as reasoning, critical thinking, and decision-making. When a person feels safe and engaged in a pleasant conversation, the PFC is less vigilant. This reduced vigilance means the brain is less likely to scrutinize the information being received and more likely to accept it at face value.

Cognitive Ease and Heuristics

Phatic expressions create a sense of cognitive ease. Cognitive ease occurs when the brain processes information smoothly without much effort. This feeling of ease can lead the brain to use heuristics (cognitive biases) or mental shortcuts. Heuristics are efficient rules or methods used to make quick judgments and decisions (though very often wrong.) While these can be useful, they also make the brain more susceptible to manipulation because it relies on past experiences and familiar patterns rather than detailed analysis.

Social Validation and Trust Signals

Phatic expressions often mimic the social interactions we have with trusted friends and family. The brain interprets these social cues as signals of trust and validation. When someone consistently uses friendly and familiar language, the brain’s social circuits interpret this as a sign of a trustworthy and non-threatening individual. This perceived trust reduces the likelihood of engaging the brain’s critical faculties.

Oxytocin and Social Bonding

Engaging in social interactions, even superficial ones, can lead to the release of oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone” or “bonding hormone.” Oxytocin promotes feelings of bonding and reduces stress. The release of oxytocin during phatic exchanges can lower the brain’s defenses and critical thinking, making the individual more susceptible to persuasion and manipulation.

Reduced Cognitive Load

Phatic communication usually revolves around simple and non-confrontational topics. This simplicity reduces cognitive load, freeing up mental resources that would otherwise be used for critical analysis. With fewer cognitive resources devoted to analyzing the conversation, the brain is more likely to overlook inconsistencies or potential red flags because it is free to wander and think about other thngs.

Routine and Habit Formation

Repetition of phatic expressions over time creates a sense of routine and habit. The brain likes predictability and routines because they require less cognitive effort. Once a routine is established, the brain is less likely to question it, leading to a form of cognitive autopilot where critical thinking is minimized.

Summary

Phatic language plays a vital role in the grooming stage of relationship scams. By using friendly, polite, and routine conversational elements, scammers can build rapport, establish emotional connections, create a sense of intimacy, and ultimately gain the trust of their victims. This foundation of trust and emotional attachment is what allows scammers to manipulate their victims effectively.

Phatic expressions reduce critical thinking by promoting cognitive ease, activating trust and social bonding mechanisms, decreasing the vigilance of the prefrontal cortex, and encouraging routine-based interactions. This combination of factors creates a mental state where the brain is more prone to accept information without rigorous scrutiny, making it easier for scammers to manipulate their victims.

Important Information for New Scam Victims

Statement About Victim Blaming

Some of our articles discuss various aspects of victims. This is both about better understanding victims (the science of victimology) and their behaviors and psychology. This helps us to educate victims/survivors about why these crimes happened and to not blame themselves, better develop recovery programs, and to help victims avoid scams in the future. At times this may sound like blaming the victim, but it does not blame scam victims, we are simply explaining the hows and whys of the experience victims have.

These articles, about the Psychology of Scams or Victim Psychology – meaning that all humans have psychological or cognitive characteristics in common that can either be exploited or work against us – help us all to understand the unique challenges victims face before, during, and after scams, fraud, or cybercrimes. These sometimes talk about some of the vulnerabilities the scammers exploit. Victims rarely have control of them or are even aware of them, until something like a scam happens and then they can learn how their mind works and how to overcome these mechanisms.

Articles like these help victims and others understand these processes and how to help prevent them from being exploited again or to help them recover more easily by understanding their post-scam behaviors. Learn more about the Psychology of Scams at www.ScamPsychology.org

SCARS Resources:

Other Cyber Resources

Psychology Disclaimer:

All articles about psychology and the human brain on this website are for information & education only

The information provided in this article is intended for educational and self-help purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional therapy or counseling.

While any self-help techniques outlined herein may be beneficial for scam victims seeking to recover from their experience and move towards recovery, it is important to consult with a qualified mental health professional before initiating any course of action. Each individual’s experience and needs are unique, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another.

Additionally, any approach may not be appropriate for individuals with certain pre-existing mental health conditions or trauma histories. It is advisable to seek guidance from a licensed therapist or counselor who can provide personalized support, guidance, and treatment tailored to your specific needs.

If you are experiencing significant distress or emotional difficulties related to a scam or other traumatic event, please consult your doctor or mental health provider for appropriate care and support.

If you are in crisis, feeling desperate, or in despair please call 988 or your local crisis hotline.

-/ 30 /-

What do you think about this?
Please share your thoughts in a comment below!

SCARS FREE Support & Recovery Program - 4 EVER FREE

Do You Need Support?
Get It Now!

SCARS provides the leading Support & Recovery program for relationship scam victims – completely FREE!

Our managed peer support groups allow victims to talk to other survivors and recover in the most experienced environment possible, for as long as they need. Recovery takes as long as it takes – we put no limits on our support!

SCARS is the most trusted support & education provider in the world. Our team is certified in trauma-informed care, grief counseling, and so much more!

To apply to join our groups visit support.AgainstScams.org

We also offer separate support groups for family & friends too.

SCARS STAR Membership

Become a
SCARS STAR™ Member

SCARS offers memberships in our STAR program, which includes many benefits for a very low annual membership fee!

SCARS STAR Membership benefits include:

  • FREE Counseling or Therapy Benefit from our partner BetterHelp.com
  • Exclusive members-only content & publications
  • Discounts on SCARS Self-Help Books Save
  • And more!

To learn more about the SCARS STAR Membership visit membership.AgainstScams.org

To become a SCARS STAR Member right now visit join.AgainstScams.org

PLEASE SHARE SO OTHERS WILL KNOW

SCARS Publishing Self-Help Recovery Books Available At shop.AgainstScams.org

Scam Victim Self-Help Do-It-Yourself Recovery Books

SCARS Printed Books For Every Scam Survivor From SCARS Publishing

Visit shop.AgainstScams.org

Each is based on our SCARS Team’s 32-plus years of experience.

SCARS Website Visitors receive an Extra 10% Discount
Use Discount Code “romanacescamsnow” at Checkout

Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

Go to reporting.AgainstScams.org to learn how

U.S. FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and SCARS at www.Anyscams.com
Visit reporting.AgainstScams.org to learn more!

FIND SCAMMER PHOTOS ON
ScammerPhotos.com

FIND SCARS ON FACEBOOK
CLICK HERE

Legal Disclaimer:

The content provided on this platform regarding psychological topics is intended solely for educational and entertainment purposes. The publisher makes no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information presented. The content is designed to raise awareness about various psychological subjects, and readers are strongly encouraged to conduct their own research and verify information independently.

The information presented does not constitute professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any psychological disorder or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Readers are advised to seek the guidance of a licensed medical professional for any questions or concerns related to their mental health.

The publisher disclaims any responsibility for actions taken or not taken based on the content provided. The treatment of psychological issues is a serious matter, and readers should consult with qualified professionals to address their specific circumstances. The content on this platform is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a therapist-client relationship.

Interpretation and Definitions

Definitions

For the purposes of this Disclaimer:

  • Company (referred to as either “the Company”, “We”, “Us” or “Our” in this Disclaimer) refers to Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. (registered d.b.a. “SCARS”,) 9561 Fountainbleau Blvd., Suit 602, Miami FL 33172.
  • Service refers to the Website.
  • You means the individual accessing this website, or the company, or other legal entity on behalf of which such individual is accessing or using the Service, as applicable.
  • Website refers to RomanceScamsNOW.com, accessible from https://romancescamsnow.com

Website Disclaimer

The information contained on this website is for general information purposes only.

The Company assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents of the Service.

In no event shall the Company be liable for any special, direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages or any damages whatsoever, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tort, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Service or the contents of the Service. The Company reserves the right to make additions, deletions, or modifications to the contents on the Service at any time without prior notice.

The Company does not warrant this website in any way.

External Links Disclaimer

This website may contain links to external websites that are not provided or maintained by or in any way affiliated with the Company.

Please note that the Company does not guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any information on these external websites.

Errors and Omissions Disclaimer

The information given by SCARS is for general guidance on matters of interest only. Even if the Company takes every precaution to ensure that the content of this website is both current and accurate, errors can occur. Plus, given the changing nature of laws, rules, and regulations, there may be delays, omissions, or inaccuracies in the information contained on this website.

SCARS is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.

Fair Use Disclaimer

SCARS may use copyrighted material that has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The Company is making such material available for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

The Company believes this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the United States Copyright law.

If You wish to use copyrighted material from this website for your own purposes that go beyond fair use, You must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Views Expressed Disclaimer

The Service may contain views and opinions which are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other author, agency, organization, employer, or company, including SCARS.

Comments published by users are their sole responsibility and the users will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The Company is not liable for any comment published by users and reserves the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever.

No Responsibility Disclaimer

The information on the Service is provided with the understanding that the Company is not herein engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, medical or mental health, or other professional advice and services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal, medical or mental health, or other competent advisers.

In no event shall the Company, its team, board of directors, volunteers, or its suppliers be liable for any special, incidental, indirect, or consequential damages whatsoever arising out of or in connection with your access or use or inability to access or use the Service.

“Use at Your Own Risk” Disclaimer

All information on this website is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.

SCARS will not be liable to You or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information given by the Service or for any consequential, special, or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Disclaimer, You can contact Us:

  • By email: contact@AgainstScams.org

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.

SCARS IS A DIGITAL PUBLISHER AND DOES NOT OFFER HEALTH OR MEDICAL ADVICE, LEGAL ADVICE, FINANCIAL ADVICE, OR SERVICES THAT SCARS IS NOT LICENSED OR REGISTERED TO PERFORM.

IF YOU’RE FACING A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, CALL YOUR LOCAL EMERGENCY SERVICES IMMEDIATELY, OR VISIT THE NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM OR URGENT CARE CENTER. YOU SHOULD CONSULT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER BEFORE FOLLOWING ANY MEDICALLY RELATED INFORMATION PRESENTED ON OUR PAGES.

ALWAYS CONSULT A LICENSED ATTORNEY FOR ANY ADVICE REGARDING LEGAL MATTERS.

A LICENSED FINANCIAL OR TAX PROFESSIONAL SHOULD BE CONSULTED BEFORE ACTING ON ANY INFORMATION RELATING TO YOUR PERSONAL FINANCES OR TAX RELATED ISSUES AND INFORMATION.

SCARS IS NOT A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR – WE DO NOT PROVIDE INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS OR BUSINESSES. ANY INVESTIGATIONS THAT SCARS MAY PERFORM IS NOT A SERVICE PROVIDED TO THIRD-PARTIES. INFORMATION REPORTED TO SCARS MAY BE FORWARDED TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AS SCARS SEE FIT AND APPROPRIATE.

This content and other material contained on the website, apps, newsletter, and products (“Content”), is general in nature and for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical, legal, or financial advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for licensed or regulated professional advice. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider, lawyer, financial, or tax professional with any questions you may have regarding the educational information contained herein. SCARS makes no guarantees about the efficacy of information described on or in SCARS’ Content. The information contained is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible situations or effects. SCARS does not recommend or endorse any specific professional or care provider, product, service, or other information that may be mentioned in SCARS’ websites, apps, and Content unless explicitly identified as such.

The disclaimers herein are provided on this page for ease of reference. These disclaimers supplement and are a part of SCARS’ website’s Terms of Use. 

All original content is Copyright © 1991 – 2023 Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. (Registered D.B.A SCARS) All Rights Reserved Worldwide & Webwide. Third-party copyrights acknowledge.

U.S. State of Florida Registration Nonprofit (Not for Profit) #N20000011978 [SCARS DBA Registered #G20000137918] – Learn more at www.AgainstScams.org

View the claimed and or registered indicia, service marks, and trademarks of Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc., All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Contact the law firm for the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated by email at legal@AgainstScams.org

Share This Information - Choose Your Social Media!

Leave A Comment