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Archive for November, 2011

I write this blog post after having just played The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim for a gratuitous (and probably quite obscene) amount of time. Its been one of the most anticipated games to be released this year and has had extensive advertising with the first trailer being aired over a year ago, and its the psychological aspect of that which will be my topic for this week. Psychology has been used more and more lately to understand why people buy and to influence them into buying certain products, as well as how to overcome a customers resistance to buying products.

But is it ethical? By using these tricks such as Vicarious Learning (From Bandura’s Social Learning Theory) in order to make people purchase a product that they have seen a famous person use, the Coriolis effect to determine which way people will walk in a supermarket (and how to place items accordingly, mainly the bright shiny ones), the fact that we slow down near shiny surfaces (combine that with what I just stated and you have slow customers moving exactly how you want them to) and the fact that when our brain identifies with a brand it actually fools our senses, are we being good people?

We are effectively taking away their free will. Yes, they do still have the choice of what they want to buy, it is ultimately up to them but it still seems like a bad use of the research. One of the ethical guidelines for conducting research is free will, the participant should not be forced to do anything they don’t want to do. Surely this should be a guideline for the application of the research as well, our understanding of the mind should not lead to excessive control of it. I understand that it would be particularly difficult to enforce, we can deny the ability to perform research, but we can hardly police companies, the internet, tv and radio in order to prevent this from happening yet surely influencing people in this way should be thought of as wrong. I’m not criticising marketing here, every shop has a right to be able to advertise and promote itself, with information about new and cheaper products being one of the main ways that they get customers to come in. Just when it comes to using psychological tricks to get people buying what they might not have actually wanted to, I consider it to be unethical. Far worse unethical things have happened, I do only consider this to be a minor breach, yet it is still one nonetheless.

http://books.google.ca/books?id=T9UZ0ggJcKQC&pg=PA76&lpg=PA76&dq=right+handed+shoppers&source=bl&ots=dA5-TZdgtT&sig=hFlgYB-3tHw0rzOFEtDrzI9yu_Q&hl=en&ei=KluKTMz7LMLsnQeV5LiwDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false End of page 78 for the Coriolis effect

http://books.google.ca/books?id=63ecAoBr-a0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=why+we+buy&hl=en&ei=bz6KTMTRFM2gnQeU6enKDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

2nd paragraph of pg 76, slowing down near shiny objects.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=neuromarketing-brain&page=2

How labels overcome our senses.

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