Great animated video on the science (six universal principles) of persuasion, based on the research of Dr. Robert Cialdini, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University.
I’m a fan of Scientific American Mind and in the latest edition (March 2010) there’s a great piece on the science of persuasion. Check out The Power to Persuade by Kevin Dutton. Apparently it has got a lot to do with humour. For instance, the best jokes are those that catch you unawares, that cause your brain to do a quick double-take, and this leaves you open to suggestion. And as for empathy, well… perhaps you should read the article.