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Unmasking the Social Engineer: The Human Element of Security by Paul Ekman, Paul Kelly F., Christopher Hadnagy

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Chapter 7

The Human Emotional Processor

Let's not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.

—Vincent Van Gogh

It is an oversimplification to say that our brains are similar to computers. A computer has a series of hardware components that all interact to create the desired output.

As you double-click the mouse to open a program, code is run to call a request for memory in your computer to be allocated for the program. The kernel of the computer then will load the code for the program into memory, and then it jumps to a particular area of memory and starts running the program. If all goes as planned, you get a graphical output from your desired input. As I typed this sentence, I pressed keys on the keyboard that triggered code inside the computer to use both its memory and processing power to put the desired letters on the screen. If I just bang away on my keyboard, I will get gibberish. If I close my eyes and type without thought or without looking, I will get gibberish. Sure, there is a chance that some of it will spell words and make sense, but it is unplanned and unfocused.

This is not much different from our brains and emotional content and how we process it. Our senses take in external stimuli (much like using the keyboard and mouse). Our memory, or life experiences mixed with actual memories (what is in our storage), appraises how that content triggers emotions and responses. Our internal processors (like a ...

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