Brainsmanship Dept.

Ads Don’t Work That Way | Melting Asphalt

Cultural imprinting is the mechanism whereby an ad, rather than trying to change our minds individually, instead changes the landscape of cultural meanings — which in turn changes how we are perceived by others when we use a product. ... [A]n ad campaign seeds everyone with a basic image or message. Then it simply steps back and waits — not for its emotional message to take root and grow within your brain, but rather for your social instincts to take over, and for you to decide to use the product (or not) based on whether you're comfortable with the kind of cultural signals its brand image allows you to send.

I'm still on the fence about this theory as it relates to advertising, but it does square with something I think is too often neglected in human behavior: the way we contrive our behavior to conform to the expectations of others, both good and bad.

If a person has an unquestioned self-image of themselves as a certain kind of person who does a certain kind of thing, they will act out that role a good deal more readily if they see larger social contexts for it. It doesn't matter if it's a "bad" context. If you see a bunch of people all doing something which clicks with your self-image, you'll model your own behavior after them, both for the sake of fitting in and for the sake of projecting such an image to others who are not part of that group.

As you can guess from the topic heading, Welcome to the Fold touches on this more than slightly. The kind of person you think of yourself as, entirely apart from any specific actions you might take, shapes your personality — your actual behavior — more than most of us seem conscious of. If you get into the habit of realizing that your attitudes about yourself are simply another perceptual anomaly, another artifact of having a thinking mind, it becomes easier to take less seriously any one particular artifact of any such thinking. Like, for instance, "I'm a bad motherf-er". or "I deserved this". You get to see through yourself that much more, and believe that much less in your own baloney. (One hopes.)

Tags: advertising psychology sociology

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This page contains a single entry by Serdar Yegulalp in the category Uncategorized / General, published on 2014/10/02 10:00.

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