A wonderful four-hour look at how Edward Bernays contributed to shaping the modern American consumer landscape using his uncle’s principles.
Two new bloggers explain how they launched their blog, Attempting Vogue, on WordPress.com a few weeks ago.
Ode to Facebook
Blue whale swallowing the world.
Graveyard for art.
Golden retriever kisses.
24-hour hotline: Occasional no answer.
Land of a thousand Stanleys: we show our wares and want to be well-liked.
Our first born, we place in your blue box.
Walls made of war and happy birthday.
Humanity mashed up with a fork.
This video has no sound.
This sad dog will not go out for walks.
May his tears deepen the intensity of your blue frame.
In the 1920s, women didn’t smoke. Or if they did, they were severely judged for it. It was taboo. Like graduating from college or getting elected to Congress, people believed women should leave the smoking to men. Honey, you might hurt yourself. Or burn your beautiful hair.
This posed a problem for the tobacco industry. Here you had 50% of the population not smoking their cigarettes for no other reason than it was unfashionable or seen as impolite. This wouldn’t do. As George Washington Hill, president of the American Tobacco Company, said at the time, “It’s a gold mine right in our front yard.” The industry tried multiple times to market cigarettes to women but nothing ever seemed to work. The cultural prejudice against it was simply too ingrained, too deep.
Then, in 1928, the American Tobacco Company hired Edward Bernays, a young hotshot marketer with wild ideas and even wilder marketing campaigns.
Bernays’ marketing tactics at the time were unlike anybody else’s in the industry. Back in the early 20th century, marketing was seen simply as a means of communicating the tangible, real benefits of a product in the simplest and most concise form possible. It was believed at the time that people bought based on facts and information. If someone wanted to buy cheese, then you must communicate to them the facts of why your cheese was superior (“Freshest french goat milk, cured 12 days, shipped refrigerated!”). People were seen as rational actors making rational purchasing decisions for themselves.
But Bernays was more unconventional. Bernays didn’t believe that people made rational decisions most of the time. In fact, he believed that people were fundamentally irrational and so you had to appeal to them on an emotional and unconscious level.
Whereas the tobacco industry had been focused on convincing individual women to buy and smoke cigarettes, Bernays saw it as an emotional and cultural issue. If Bernays wanted women to smoke, then he had to shift that balance and turn smoking into a positive emotional experience for women by reshaping the cultural perceptions of smoking.
To accomplish this, Bernays hired a group of women and got them into the Easter Sunday Parade in New York City. Today, big holiday parades are cheesy things you let drone on the television while you fall asleep on the couch. But back in those days, parades were big social events, kind of like the Super Bowl or something.
Bernays planned it so that these women in the parade, at the appropriate moment, would all stop and light up cigarettes at the same time. Then, Bernays hired photographers to take flattering photos of the women which he then passed out to all of the major national newspapers. Bernays then told the reporters that these ladies were not just lighting cigarettes, but they were lighting “torches of freedom,” demonstrating their ability to assert their own independence and be their own woman.
It was all fake, of course. But Bernays staged it as a political protest because he knew this would trigger the appropriate emotions in women all across the country. Feminists had just won women the right to vote a decade earlier. Women were now working outside the home and becoming more integral to the country’s economic life. They were asserting themselves by cutting their hair short and wearing racier clothes. Women at the time saw themselves as the first generation that could behave independently of a man. And many of them felt very strongly about this. If Bernays could just hitch his “smoking = freedom” message onto the women’s liberation movement, well, tobacco sales would double and he’d be a rich man.
And it worked. Women started smoking and got to enjoy lung cancer just as much as their husbands did.
Meanwhile, Bernays went on to pull off these kinds of cultural coups regularly throughout the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. He completely revolutionized the marketing industry and invented the field of public relations in the process. Paying celebrities to use your product? That was Bernays’ idea. Creating fake news articles that are actually subtle advertisements for a product? Also his idea. Staging controversial public events as a means to draw attention and notoriety for one of his clients? His idea as well. Pretty much every form of marketing or publicity we’re all subjected to today began with Bernays.
But here’s something else surprising about Bernays: he was Sigmund Freud’s nephew.
Freud’s theories were some of the first to argue that most human decision making was primarily unconscious and irrational. Freud was the one who realized that people’s insecurities drove them to excess and overcompensation. Freud was also the one who understood that people are, at heart, animals and are easily manipulated, especially in groups.
Bernays just applied these ideas to selling products and he got rich in the process.
Through Freud, Bernays understood something nobody else in business ever understood before him: that if you can tap into people’s insecurities — if you can needle at their deepest feelings of inadequacy — then they will buy just about any damn thing you tell them to.
This form of marketing became the blueprint of all future advertising. Trucks are marketed to men as ways to assert strength and reliability. Makeup is marketed to women as a way to be more loved and garner more attention. Beer is marketed as a way to have fun and be the center of attention at the party. I mean, my god, Burger King used to market hamburgers with, “Have it your way” — that doesn’t even make sense.
After all, how else does a women’s magazine that shows 150 pages of airbrushed pictures of women in the 0.01th percentile of the population in terms of beauty make money other than turning around and selling beauty products next to those exact same airbrushed women? Or beer commercials that show raucous parties with friends, girls, titties, sports cars, Vegas, friends, more girls, more titties, more beer, girls, girls, girls, parties, dancing, cars, friends, girls! — Drink Budweiser.
This is all Marketing 101 today. When I first studied marketing when I started my first business, I was told to find people’s “pain points” and then subtly make them feel worse. Then turn around and tell them my product will make them feel better. In my case, I was selling dating advice, so the idea was to tell people that they will be lonely forever, that no one will ever like them or love them, that something must be wrong with them — oh! And here, buy my book!
I didn’t do that, of course. It made me feel icky. And it took me years to really understand why.
In our culture today, marketing often is the message. The vast majority of information that we’re exposed to is some form of marketing. And so if the marketing is always trying to make you feel like shit to get you to buy something, then we’re essentially existing in a culture designed to make us feel like shit and we’ll always want to overcompensate in some way.
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that of the thousands of people who haveemailed me for advice in one form or another, a large percentage of them didn’t actually seem to have any identifiable problem. Rather, they clung to bizarre and unrealistic standards for themselves. Like the college kid who goes to college expecting to go to insano pool parties with bikini-clad women on a daily basis and is then disappointed when he feels socially awkward because he has to go to class and study hard subjects and make new friends and constantly be unsure of himself because he’s never lived on his own before. The latter experience is totally normal, yet he somehow shipped himself off to university with expectations of Animal House every weekend.
This sort of thing is happening all over. I know for me, my conception of romance and a relationship when I was young was some cross between a random episode of Friends and a Hugh Grant movie. Needless to say, I spent many years feeling frustrated and as though something must be inherently wrong with me.
Bernays was aware of all of this, by the way. But Bernays’ political views were like a diet version of fascism — he believed that it was both inevitable and in everybody’s best interests that the weak be exploited by the strong through media and propaganda. He called it “the invisible government” and generally thought the masses were stupid and deserving of whatever smart people convinced them to do.
Our society has evolved to an interesting point in history. Capitalism, in theory, works by allotting resources to fulfill everyone’s needs and demands in the most efficient way possible.
But perhaps capitalism is only the most efficient means of fulfilling a population’s physical needs — needs for food, shelter, clothing, etc. Because in a capitalist system, it also becomes economical to feed into everyone’s insecurities, their vices and vulnerabilities, to promote their worst fears and constantly remind them of theirshortcomings and failures. It becomes profitable to set new and unrealistic standards, to generate a culture of comparison and inferiority. Because people who constantly feel inferior make the best customers.
After all, people only buy something if they believe it will solve a problem. Therefore, if you want to sell more stuff than there are problems, you have to encourage people to believe there are problems where there are none.
This isn’t an attack on capitalism. It’s not even an attack on marketing. I don’t think there’s some big overarching conspiracy to keep the “sheeple” in line. I think the system simply creates certain incentives that shapes media, and then the media go on to shape a callous and superficial culture based on trying to always live up to something.
Overall our system has done pretty damn well, and still does for the most part. I like to think of it as the “least worst” solution to organizing human civilization. Unbridled capitalism simply brings with it certain cultural baggage that we must learn to be aware of and adapt to. Oftentimes, the marketing in our economy pushes insecurity onto us that is not helpful and that intentionally triggers inadequacies or addictions within ourselves to make more profit.
Some may argue that this sort of stuff should be regulated and controlled by government. Maybe that can help a little bit. But it doesn’t strike me as a good long-term solution.
The only real long-term solution is for people to develop enough self-awareness to understand when mass media is prodding at their weaknesses and vulnerabilities and to make conscious decisions in the face of those fears. The success of our free markets has burdened us with the responsibility of exercising our freedom to choose. And that responsibility is far heavier than we often realize.
(Cover image credit: Yuya Sekiguchi)
Researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer found that students remember more via taking notes longhand rather than on a laptop. It has to do with what happens when you’re forced to slow down.
As laptops become smaller and more ubiquitous, and with the advent of tablets, the idea of taking notes by hand just seems old-fashioned to many students today. Typing your notes is faster — which comes in handy when there’s a lot of information to take down. But it turns out there are still advantages to doing things the old-fashioned way.
For one thing, research shows that laptops and tablets have a tendency to be distracting — it’s so easy to click over to Facebook in that dull lecture. And a study has shown that the fact that you have to be slower when you take notes by hand is what makes it more useful in the long run.
In the study published in Psychological Science, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles sought to test how note-taking by hand or by computer affects learning.
“When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can,” Mueller tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them.”
Mueller and Oppenheimer cited that note-taking can be categorized two ways: generative and nongenerative. Generative note-taking pertains to “summarizing, paraphrasing, concept mapping,” while nongenerative note-taking involves copying something verbatim.
And there are two hypotheses to why note-taking is beneficial in the first place. The first idea is called the encoding hypothesis, which says that when a person is taking notes, “the processing that occurs” will improve “learning and retention.” The second, called the external-storage hypothesis, is that you learn by being able to look back at your notes, or even the notes of other people.
Because people can type faster than they write, using a laptop will make people more likely to try to transcribe everything they’re hearing. So on the one hand, Mueller and Oppenheimer were faced with the question of whether the benefits of being able to look at your more complete, transcribed notes on a laptop outweigh the drawbacks of not processing that information. On the other hand, when writing longhand, you process the information better but have less to look back at.
For their first study, they took university students (the standard guinea pig of psychology) and showed them TED talks about various topics. Afterward, they found that the students who used laptops typed significantly more words than those who took notes by hand. When testing how well the students remembered information, the researchers found a key point of divergence in the type of question. For questions that asked students to simply remember facts, like dates, both groups did equally well. But for “conceptual-application” questions, such as, “How do Japan and Sweden differ in their approaches to equality within their societies?” the laptop users did “significantly worse.”
The same thing happened in the second study, even when they specifically told students using laptops to try to avoid writing things down verbatim. “Even when we told people they shouldn’t be taking these verbatim notes, they were not able to overcome that instinct,” Mueller says. The more words the students copied verbatim, the worse they performed on recall tests.
And to test the external-storage hypothesis, for the third study they gave students the opportunity to review their notes in between the lecture and test. The thinking is, if students have time to study their notes from their laptops, the fact that they typed more extensive notes than their longhand-writing peers could possibly help them perform better.
But the students taking notes by hand still performed better. “This is suggestive evidence that longhand notes may have superior external storage as well as superior encoding functions,” Mueller and Oppenheimer write.
Do studies like these mean wise college students will start migrating back to notebooks?
“I think it is a hard sell to get people to go back to pen and paper,” Mueller says. “But they are developing lots of technologies now like Livescribe and various stylus and tablet technologies that are getting better and better. And I think that will be sort of an easier sell to college students and people of that generation.”
Research sometimes suggests that movies and other media are a negative influence to rein in. But new studies highlight their potential to spread goodness on a wide scale.
Deadpool is the highest-grossing film in the United States so far this year—and one of the most controversial. Though the film has scored points with critics and audiences for its irreverent take on the superhero genre, its extreme gore has raised some familiar questions and objections about the role of violence in films.
But look at the highest-grossing film of 2016 internationally, and you’ll find a different type of movie:Zootopia, a family-friendly animated film that has been praised for its positive messages about the harm of stereotypes and prejudice.
How does consuming these different types of films impact us as individuals and as a society?
For a long time, media researchers focused almost entirely on the harmful effects of media, including the effects of media violence on aggression, the media’s role in increasing racial and gender stereotypes, and its potential to shape people’s perception of the world as a dangerous place. Indeed, since the dawn of talking movies in the 1930s, debates have raged about the potential anti-social effects of media.
However, more recently, scholarship in media psychology is starting to look at the flip side: the positive effects media can have when it’s more uplifting and inspiring. In the last few years, studies have illustrated how, just as some films, TV shows, and other media can foster anti-social behavior, media with positive images and messages can make us want to become better people and help others—to become more “prosocial,” as we researchers put it. I’ve conducted several of these studies myself, and I think the implications of this research are very exciting: Rather than simply seeing media as a negative influence to rein in, we’re beginning to understand its potential to spread goodness on a wide scale.
For example, a 2012 study by one of the seminal scholars in the field, Mary Beth Oliver of Penn State University, identified the power of films that elicit “elevation,” the warm, uplifting feeling we get when we watch someone perform deeply moral acts, such as acts of gratitude, generosity, or loyalty. In this study, Oliver and her colleagues asked 483 students to recall either a particularly meaningful or a particularly pleasurable movie they watched recently and to indicate the degree to which they felt joyful or elevated from watching it. When the researchers analyzed the content of these movies, they found that, sure enough, the meaningful movies depicted altruistic values, such as social justice and care for the weak, significantly more often than the pleasurable movies did.
They also found that the meaningful movies elicited greater feelings of elevation among respondents, which was expressed in a distinct set of emotional and physical sensations: feeling happy and sad at the same time, a lump in one’s throat, tearing up, a rising or opening of the chest, and chills.
What’s more, these feelings of elevation, in turn, were associated with a greater motivation to become a better person and do good things for others; the pleasurable movies, by contrast, motivated people to enjoy themselves and seek popularity.
Research also suggests that movies can influence not only our desire to do good but also the way we perceive the world as a whole. This research builds on earlier findings that the amount of TV people watch correlates with the degree to which they will see the world as a dangerous place, also known as “mean-world syndrome.” Research on inspiring media, by contrast, suggests that exposure to elevating media may have the potential to shift our perception of the world toward a “kind-world syndrome.”
For example, a 2011 study led by Karl Aquino of the University of British Columbia found that people who experienced elevation from reading a story about uncommon goodness became more likely to believe that there is good in the world. The more people experienced elevation, the more they perceived the world to be full of generosity and kindness. And research suggests there might be concrete benefits to this mental shift: Studies indicate that holding a cynical worldview—to only expect the worst of people—is actually bad for your health; however, seeing humanity’s positive potential can make us feel good (we experience positive emotions), which, in turn, can lead to anupward spiral of well-being.
Research that my colleagues and I have conducted points to social benefits of meaningful films as well. We asked 266 students to identify films that are meaningful to them; their responses generated a long list of movies, with the most popular ones being Remember the Titans, Forrest Gump, andEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
We found that these films are more likely than pleasurable films to depict values of love, kindness, and connectedness, and to elicit elevation. In addition, experiencing elevation from such movies made the participants feel more connected to dear friends and family, as well as to the transcendent, spiritual aspects of life—which, in turn, inspired a host of prosocial motivations. Specifically, watching a movie such as A Walk To Remember or The Blindside made them feel a general sense of compassionate love for people, made them want to help people less fortunate than themselves, and generally made them want to be kind and good to fellow human beings, even strangers.
Our findings highlight that elevation not only makes us feel more connected toward people we know but also makes us feel compassionate toward people we don’t—even to the point that we’re motivated to make sacrifices for strangers. The study suggests that the elevation we get from films can help us transcend our egocentric bias and forge more compassionate connections to others.
Of course, making these positive changes stick is not something that happens overnight. Nor is it enough to see portrayals of moral beauty, kindness, and generosity only every once in a while. For positive media to have strong, lasting effects on us individually or collectively, I believe we need to consume it consistently, over time, just as eating right only once a week does not make us healthier.
But it is encouraging to see that these effects are possible, and that our media consumption patterns can be a force for good in the world, not just a way to make media companies rich. The research on positive media is still evolving (and I will be covering more of it in future Greater Good articles). But so far, it suggests that when we select inspiring content on TV, in films, or through social media, we’re not just making ourselves feel good in the moment. We’re nurturing our instincts for compassion and kindness.
The pop singer Prince died on Thursday, at the age of fifty-seven, but his legacy will remain with us for a long, long time. Our cover for next week’s issue, Bob Staake’s “Purple Rain,” is a tribute to the great performer; click here to read remembrances from our writers.
6 Ways electronic screen time makes kids angry, depressed and unmotivated
Children or teens who are “revved up” and prone to rages or—alternatively—who are depressed and apathetic have become disturbingly commonplace. Chronically irritable children are often in a state of abnormally high arousal, and may seem “wired and tired.” That is, they’re agitated but exhausted. Because chronically high arousal levels impact memory and the ability to relate, these kids are also likely to struggle academically and socially.
At some point, a child with these symptoms may be given a mental-health diagnosis such as major depression, bipolar disorder, or ADHD, and offered corresponding treatments, including therapy and medication. But often these treatments don’t work very well, and the downward spiral continues.
Both parents and clinicians may be “barking up the wrong tree.” That is, they’re trying to treat what looks like a textbook case of mental disorder, but failing to rule out and address the most common environmental cause of such symptoms—everyday use of electronics. Time and again, I’ve realized that regardless of whether there exists any “true” underlying diagnoses, successfully treating a child with mood dysregulation today requires methodically eliminating all electronics use for several weeks—an “electronics fast”—to allow the nervous system to “reset.”
If done correctly, this intervention can produce deeper sleep, a brighter and more even mood, better focus and organization, and an increase in physical activity. The ability to tolerate stress improves, so meltdowns diminish in both frequency and severity. The child begins to enjoy the things they used to, is more drawn to nature, and imaginary or creative play returns. In teens and young adults, an increase in self-directed behavior is observed—the exact opposite of apathy and hopelessness.
It’s a beautiful thing.
At the same time, the electronic fast reduces or eliminates the need for medication while rendering other treatments more effective. Improved sleep, more exercise, and more face-to-face contact with others compound the benefits—an upward spiral! After the fast, once the brain is reset, the parent can carefully determine how much if any electronics use the child can tolerate without symptoms returning.
Restricting electronics may not solve everything, but it’s often the missing link in treatment when kids are stuck.
But why is the electronic fast intervention so effective? Because it reverses much of the physiological dysfunction produced by daily screen time.
Children’s brains are much more sensitive to electronics use than most of us realize. In fact, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take much electronic stimulation to throw a sensitive and still-developing brain off track. Also, many parents mistakenly believe thatinteractive screen-time—Internet or social media use, texting, emailing, and gaming—isn’t harmful, especially compared to passive screen time like watching TV. In fact, interactive screen time is more likely to cause sleep, mood, and cognitive issues, because it’s more likely to cause hyperarousal and compulsive use.
Here’s a look at six physiological mechanisms that explain electronics’ tendency to produce mood disturbance:
Because light from screen devices mimics daytime, it suppresses melatonin, a sleep signal released by darkness. Just minutes of screen stimulation can delay melatonin release by several hours and desynchronize the body clock. Once the body clock is disrupted, all sorts of other unhealthy reactions occur, such as hormone imbalance and brain inflammation. Plus, high arousal doesn’t permit deep sleep, and deep sleep is how we heal.
Many children are “hooked” on electronics, and in fact gaming releases so muchdopamine—the “feel-good” chemical—that on a brain scan it looks the same as cocaineuse. But when reward pathways are overused, they become less sensitive, and more and more stimulation is needed to experience pleasure. Meanwhile, dopamine is also critical for focus and motivation, so needless to say, even small changes in dopamine sensitivity can wreak havoc on how well a child feels and functions.
3. Screen time produces “light-at-night.”
Light-at-night from electronics has been linked to depression and even suicide risk in numerous studies. In fact, animal studies show that exposure to screen-based light before or during sleep causes depression, even when the animal isn’t looking at the screen. Sometimes parents are reluctant to restrict electronics use in a child’s bedroom because they worry the child will enter a state of despair—but in fact removing light-at-night is protective.
Both acute stress (fight-or-flight) and chronic stress produce changes in brain chemistry and hormones that can increase irritability. Indeed, cortisol, the chronic stress hormone, seems to be both a cause and an effect of depression—creating a vicious cycle. Additionally, both hyperarousal and addiction pathways suppress the brain’s frontal lobe, the area where mood regulation actually takes place.
Experts say that what’s often behind explosive and aggressive behavior is poor focus.When attention suffers, so does the ability to process one’s internal and externalenvironment, so little demands become big ones. By depleting mental energy with high visual and cognitive input, screen time contributes to low reserves. One way to temporarily “boost” depleted reserves is to become angry, so meltdowns actually become a coping mechanism.
6. Screen-time reduces physical activity levels and exposure to “green time.”
Research shows that time outdoors, especially interacting with nature, can restore attention, lower stress, and reduce aggression. Thus, time spent with electronics reduces exposure to natural mood enhancers.
In today’s world, it may seem crazy to restrict electronics so drastically. But when kids are struggling, we’re not doing them any favors by leaving electronics in place and hoping they can wind down by using electronics in “moderation.” It just doesn’t work. In contrast, by allowing the nervous system to return to a more natural state with a strict fast, we can take the first step in helping a child become calmer, stronger, and happier.
Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D. is an integrative child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist, the author of Reset Your Child’s Brain, and an expert on the effects of screen-time on the developing nervous system.
What is a Picture Really Worth? – Logos in Advertising
by Donna L. Roberts, Ph.D. & Sergio Del Bianco
Advertisers frequently rely on the famous cliché “A picture is worth a thousand words,” fashioning images that create a world and tell a story that they hope will lead a consumer to purchase their product. The oft-quoted phrase is derived from an article by Fred R. Barnard in the advertising trade journal Printers’ Ink (later renamed Marketing/Communications) where he encouraged the use of images in advertisements that appeared on the sides of streetcars. In a 1927 issue Barnard stated “One Picture Worth Ten Thousand Words”, labeling the advice a Chinese proverb, which he later admitted he did, “so that people would take it seriously.”
Perhaps the most pervasive application of this kernel of wisdom is the brand logo. Logos (also called signature cuts) represent a specific example of a branding effort whereby a stylized version of the advertiser’s name and/or symbol is repeated in order to represent the organization as a whole. It has been compared to a trademark because it represents a uniquely recognizable symbol and provides quick recognition of the brand (Arens, Weigold, & Arens, 2011). The logo may or may not include the firm’s name and is primarily intended to make a quick, identifiable and easily remembered visual connection to the brand.
Advertisers use logos as a cue to instantly identify the brand and evoke an immediate reaction based on associated thoughts, memories and emotions.
How well can you identify common logos? Take this online test to find out: http://www.logoquiz.net/
Arens, W., Weigold, M., & Arens, C. (2011). Contemporary advertising. (13th ed.). Hightstown, NJ: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Barnard, F. R. (March 10, 1927). One Picture is Worth Ten Thousand Words, Printers’ Ink, pp. 114-115.
Looking Into the Black Box
by Donna L. Roberts. Ph. D.
Researchers studying the psychology of consumer behavior have long struggled to identify the variables that comprise the proverbial black box of consumer decision making and advertising influence (Advertising Research Foundation, 1964; Baumgartner, 2002; Bearden, Netemeyer & Teel, 1989). Furthermore, personality researchers too, have endeavored to determine the many specific aspects of behavior that are influenced by the differing personality variables (Bosnjak, et al., 2007).
Practically speaking, the fundamental purpose of advertising is to unequivocally generate a response that advances sales and thus ultimately improves profits. Clearly businesses would not spend billions of limited corporate resources on an endeavor that would not at least attempt to significantly contribute to profitability.
Advertising is everywhere in the modern environment – on radio, television and computers, in magazines and newspapers, on billboards, on buildings, on public transportation, on the clothing, shoes and accessories of sports and entertainment figures and strategically placed in films, television shows and websites. Far from being a passive mirror of society and reflection of already established consumer needs, advertising exerts influence that is cumulative, often subtle and at least partially unconscious. If the average American is inundated with over 3000 ads per day (Du Plessis, 2008; Kilbourne, 1999; Vollmer & Precourt, 2008), which are theorized to influence and manipulate his/her behavior, then a thorough understanding of this powerful persuader is undoubtedly in the best interest of behavioral researchers, clinical practitioners and certainly the individuals themselves.
Understanding individual differences in response to external stimuli would contribute to a better understanding of both these differences and how the process of influence and persuasion work in our daily lives. More fully understanding how particular types of messages carry more or less influence with differing personalities could be useful in shaping more effective assessment measures and subsequent approaches to therapy and counseling that take personality into consideration, similar to the way in which one adjusts teaching styles and modes with regard to individual learning styles.
Advertising Research Foundation. (1964). Are there consumer types? New York, NY:
ARF.Baumgartner, H. (2002). Toward a personology of the consumer. Journal of Consumer Research, 29(2), 286-293. doi:10.1086/341578
Bearden, W. O., Netemeyer, R. G., & Teel, J. E. (1989). Measurement of consumer susceptibility to interpersonal influence. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(4), 473-481. doi:10.1086/209186
Bosnjak, M., Bratko, D., Galesic, M., & Tuten, T. (2007). Consumer personality and individual differences: Revitalizing a temporarily abandoned field. Journal of Business Research, 60(6), 587-589. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2006.12.002
Du Plessis, E. (2008). The advertised mind: Ground-breaking insights into how our brains respond to advertising. Sterling, VA: Millward Brown.
Kilbourne, J. (1999). Deadly persuasion: Why women and girls must fight the addictive power of advertising. Boston, MA: Free Press.