This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Art of Seduction" by Robert Greene. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.
What are the 18 types of victims in The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene? What seductive strategies work on each type?
In The Art of Seduction, Robert Greene defines 18 different types of victims based on his “victim theory.” The foundation of this theory, according to Greene, is to understand that everyone is lacking something and figure out how to give it to them.
We’ve condensed Greene’s 18 different victim types by categorizing them according to the weaknesses, deficiencies, or qualities that can be manipulated.
The nostalgic type of target is someone who has a strong attachment to their past and longs to recapture the passion and desire they experienced in their youth. These are individuals who were likely attractive, popular, and seductive themselves, and are now past that phase of life. For example, they may have been a star athlete in college, had a brief period of fame as a musician, or be someone who was raised in an indulgent lifestyle.
If they were a seducer in their past, let them seduce you. This type of person longs to recapture the seductive excitement of their youth. Indulge them, making them feel sexual prowess once again. Greene notes that if this type comes from a very privileged background and has lived an indulgent life, they’re typically only seduced by youth and innocence—so if you aren’t fairly young, you might not want to bother with this type.
If they were once the center of attention, shower them with that attention once again. This type may have been a star athlete in college or had a brief period of fame as a musician. Greene advises you play the role of the Type 5 seducer with this target, appealing to their ego with flattery.
|The Cognitive Power of Nostalgia|
Nostalgia may lend itself particularly well to seductive purposes because humans have a cognitive bias toward romanticizing the past, meaning we tend to remember events of the past as more positive than they were and forget the negative aspects. For example, when you reminisce about your childhood, you’re likely to remember it as more fun and carefree than it really was.
This is due to what psychologists call the “reminiscence bump” and the “positivity effect.” The reminiscence bump refers to the finding that older people recall events from their youth better than they remember their middle-aged years. The positivity effect (sometimes called the “fading effect bias”) says that as people get older, they tend to remember things more positively. These two effects together mean older people are more likely to remember their early years in a positive light.
The escapist types are people who long to break free from the limiting roles they play in everyday life. They may have a conscious or unconscious desire for a role reversal in which they can act outside the confines of what they’re accustomed to or what’s expected of them. To seduce this type, simply give them this opportunity.
If they’re someone who’s in a powerful position, reverse the roles. Greene says these targets won’t fall for flattery because they’re accustomed to it and perceive it as insincere. Instead, treat them as your equal, or even as your inferior—this will intrigue them because nobody ever interacts with them that way.
If they’re someone who is classically attractive, focus on something other than their beauty, and let them pursue you. This type of target is accustomed to being seen only for their outward appearance. They long to feel appreciated for their nonphysical qualities, so emphasize those. For example, compliment them often on their intelligence or sense of humor. Also, Greene says you should let them do the pursuing, because they’re so used to being pursued that they’ll enjoy being the pursuer for once.
If they’re innocent or repressed, give them a taste of the excitement they’re missing. This category includes people who are afraid of judgment (and are often judgmental themselves), or people who are sheltered and naive and have little life experience. Greene says you should expose this kind of target to new and exciting things. Give them a hint of danger, but keep it minimal, so you don’t actually scare them away.
|Exploiting the Desire for Authenticity|
It’s quite common for people to feel trapped by the roles and expectations of society and long to escape them. This is because the roles we’re expected to play often conflict with who we perceive ourselves to be or how we want our lives to be. In other words, roles keep us from living authentically. Of course, if you’re the target of a seduction and being used for someone else’s benefit, that’s unlikely to be consistent with living a truly authentic life. But the techniques Greene describes exploit the desire for authenticity by giving the target the sense that they’re expressing their authentic selves—something they’re tired of repressing—if even for a limited time.
This category of targets includes people who long to have their natural tendencies indulged. They’re either relatively self-absorbed people who just want someone to cater to them, or they have some characteristic that’s rarely appreciated. Because of this, they’ll love anyone who indulges them by appreciating their otherwise hard-to-love qualities. Greene says this type of target often works better as a short-term prospect, because they tend to be narcissistic, and dealing with them can be draining.
If they’re childish or used to being “spoiled,” play the role of an indulgent parent. This may include people who come from privilege and have always gotten what they wanted, or the kind of person who never wants to grow up. They tend to shirk responsibility, never taking life seriously. With this type, Greene advises playing the responsible parent role and letting them be childlike. Act as if you enjoy their childish qualities.
If they thrive on drama and victimhood, give it to them. These people think everyone’s out to get them and do a lot of complaining. They won’t go for security and stability, so don’t offer it. Regularly inject some drama into their life and your relationship by picking fights and causing them pain.
If they think of themselves as superior to others, let them look down on you. This type of person is wrapped up in being a know-it-all. Greene says to let them be superior. Hide any intellectual tendencies you have, always let them be the smart one, and instead give them pure physicality. This will satisfy their longing to get out of their overthinking minds and maintain their air of superiority.
|Beware of Narcissists|
Greene’s identification of self-indulgent people mirrors some of the traits of narcissism. While Greene says that these targets should be considered short-term prospects only, ample psychological research advises us to avoid getting involved with narcissists altogether. Narcissistic people tend to be self-centered, have feelings of superiority, and are hyper-sensitive to any criticism. This may manifest in a “victim” complex (since any criticism will be deflected and attributed to ulterior motives), and immature and irresponsible behavior. Relationships with these types of people tend to be dysfunctional and emotionally and psychologically damaging.
Perhaps ironically, some of the other features of narcissism are: manipulative behavior, the desire to control others, and focusing on one’s needs over the needs of others. These traits are at the foundation of the principles of seduction presented in this book.
The seeker type of target is someone who is looking for some sort of fantasy. All you have to do with these people is be the fantasy they’re seeking.
If they’re someone who lives in a fantasy world, just be a character in their fantasy. These people are hopeless romantics who dream of a perfect world and relationship. You can spot them by their romantic and fantasy style of clothing, home decor, or choice in movies. Just take notice of what that fantasy looks like for them and play a role that fits it. Greene notes that sometimes this type fantasizes about and fetishizes the exotic—their homes are usually decorated with exotic elements from around the world. He says you have little chance of seducing this type if you don’t come from a different culture or background from them. If you do, however, just emphasize the “unfamiliar” aspect of yourself.
If they’re someone who wants to save the world, join them or let them save you. These are people who are devoted to some cause, or always trying to “rescue” people. If they’re devoted to some spiritual cause, you should first act like you share their interest in that cause, and then gradually replace it, becoming the object of their devotion. If they’re the “savior complex” type, exaggerate your weaknesses, present a melancholy demeanor, and let them think you need saving from the harsh world.
|The Seeker May be Easy to Get but Hard to Keep|
It’s clear to see how someone whose identity revolves around seeking something has an obvious need in their life. These characteristics can manifest as personality disorders when they’re taken to an extreme.
Fantasy Prone Personality (FPP) was identified by psychologists in 1981, and involves a deep attachment to fantasy worlds. Since this kind of person can be considered both an “escapist” and a “seeker,” they’re likely fairly easy to manipulate by appealing to their vivid fantastical imagination. Likewise, individuals who have a “savior complex” are also prone to falling into dysfunctional relationships, as they gravitate toward troubled people. This may make them easy targets as well.
However, Greene is probably correct in pointing out that these types are best for short-term prospects because their constant seeking for the next fantasy or “fixer-upper” means they’re not likely to stick around long.
———End of Preview———
Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Robert Greene's "The Art of Seduction" at Shortform.
Here's what you'll find in our full The Art of Seduction summary:
- The psychology of how to successfully entice lovers or devoted followers
- Greene's advice for choosing a seduction target based on their characteristics
- A step-by-step guide on how to seduce your chosen target