How the Jedi Mind Trick Is Used in Star Wars

The Force can implant suggestions in individuals with weaker minds

Star Wars scene

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Jedi use mind tricks to influence others using the Force. Obi-Wan Kenobi in "A New Hope" explained it as, "The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded." With a mind trick, a Jedi can implant a suggestion in some else's mind and have them do as the Jedi wishes, often avoiding a potentially violent confrontation. It's also known as "affect mind" or "alter mind."

When using this technique, the Jedi will usually use a suggestive tone of voice and may use a distracting hand gesture. In this way, it mimics some techniques of hypnosis. While the Jedi mind trick most familiar from the movies uses the power of Force for suggestion, other mind tricks include creating illusions or controlling someone's mind. Jedi can use this technique solo or use it together with other Jedi for a stronger effect.

Origins of the Term "Jedi Mind Trick"

The phrase itself comes from "Return of the Jedi," in which Jabba the Hutt upbraids his majordomo Bib Fortuna for his susceptibility to the "old Jedi mind trick" being performed on him by Luke Skywalker. Though this is a general description rather than a Jedi technical term, it has become the phrase normally used to describe Force influence on the minds of others. After being established in that movie, the Jedi mind trick was seen being used by Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels.

In-Universe Examples of the Jedi Mind Trick

By using a Jedi mind trick, a Force user can block a creature's perception of its surroundings and plant a new suggestion. The effects of a Jedi mind trick range from simple persuasion, like convincing a guard he hasn't seen anything suspicious, to illusions affecting a group, like an army perceiving a larger enemy force than really exists.

A successful Jedi mind trick requires good powers of perception. A Force user must be able to reach into a subject's mind and learn the best way to affect him. For example, creating an illusion of a larger army will not help matters if the enemy will be motivated to fight harder against a larger force.

The Jedi prefer non-violent solutions when possible, and see the Jedi mind trick as a way to get out of situations without fighting. Misusing a mind trick, however, can lead to the dark side. Some Sith went beyond merely planting suggestions, attempting instead to take complete control of the subject's mind.

Yarael Poof, a master of Jedi mind tricks, warned Jedi to be mindful of less obvious problems stemming from the use of Jedi mind tricks. For example, he cautioned Jedi to consider that convincing a guard to let you pass could cost him his job, or that convincing him to chase an illusion could lead to injury.

Some species, including Hutts and Toydarians, are naturally resistant or immune to Jedi mind tricks as a result of their brain structure. Other creatures could learn to resist Jedi mind tricks with training.