The fraud perpetrated by Bernie Madoff and abetted by Ezra Merkin, a money manager and financier, could succeed in part because the “weapons of influence” identified by Arizona State social psychologist Robert Cialdini are so powerful, observes clinical psychiatrist Mark Goulston. “Applying them causes the other person to feel empathized with and understood,” Goulston explains. “When people feel that way, they lower their guard and lean into the relationship and trust it more. In essence, when people really feel that you get where they’re coming from, they’re much more likely to trust you to take them where you’d like them to go.