Sunday, December 16, 2007

Finally, a term for what we've known all along

For what we are about to receive....

Advertising is an industry of manipulation. It is a vital if not perennially controversial agent of the modern economy that help keeps the wheels of consumption and therefore commerce turning (according to a recent NPR news segment as much as 60% of economic activity is attributable to consumerism, which advertising undoubtedly feeds).

The copywriting craft is a formal function within the industry which recognized that words are a powerful force in shaping people's perceptions, not only of products but the consumption experience.

Recent research confirms this influence and gives it a formal term: confirmation bias. According to a recent NYT article:.

“If you say something is juicy, people almost unconsciously turn up their ‘juicy sensors’ when they taste the food. Once these taste sensors are activated, people become preprogrammed to think a dish tastes good.'’

The notion that confirmation bias can actually have a physical effect on taste bud receptors has to make those in the persuasion profession feel somewhat better about what they do. After all, using the right words is not merely a suggestion. In reading a seductive description which affects the body's physiology it actually DOES contribute to greater enjoyment, not just the idea of more pleasure.

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