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Andres Aullet


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Should we teach our kids about how advertisement (public relationships, marketing) works?

Let's face it, advertisement works.

But let's also admit it, it is not as simple as a creative ad shown during the superbowl or a picture on a magazine that we find funny and incidentally reminds us of some particular brand of chips, or insurance company.

As far as i know (admittedly a much more thorough research can be done), advertisement works because it exploits a few flaws in the way our subconscious work:

- we remember things best when emotion is evoked while we learn them (fear, anger, excitement). And this is due to the chemical changes that these emotions induce in our brain.

- we decide mostly with emotions, and not with reason. This seems counter intuitive to most people

- we live with the ever present contradiction of trying to be unique and trying to be like others. We like to be singled out if we are wearing nice clothing, but we hate being singled out if our pants happen to rip.

- being rejected by our peers, or not being part of the in-group we admire, actually hurts, pretty much in the same way (neurologically) as a punch in the stomach hurts

- anything repeated frequently makes a stronger memory, easier to recall, and a memory that is easier to recall is trusted more (and feels more familiar) regardless of it's veracity

- novel experiences are considered riskier than familiar experiences, regardless of their real inherent risk

So all these factors are merged with a product and tweaked to make that product appealing and familiar to us, without us fully understanding why it feels appealing and familiar.

Now, recently the target of the advertising industry are increasingly younger kids. And I would venture to say that if many adults don't fully understand why advertisement works, then even less kids would be expected to know

Should we include in a kids education: at schools, in church sermons, at dinner table conversations, an explanation of what advertisement is and why it works? What would be an argument against teaching this?


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  • Nov 16 2012: @Andres

    Shame replies stop at a certain thread depth... anyway sorry if I misunderstood what you were trying to say, I don't think it came across clearly.
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      Nov 16 2012: Indeed the format sometimes does not help Bob... No worries, I do not take offense with any of your comments, I have learned from the postings you have shared and i concur with many of these opinions... I have perhaps a less pessimistic view of people than that of Chris Hedges, but that could be because i have never been in a war zone. I do however, admire his work and his courage in talking about topics that most either consciously ignore or have never heard of.

      I guess my question is framed in that, a bit more optimistic view that people can still learn and change their lives and that of their kids... Education, to me is the key to a brighter future, regardless of what happens to my own generation.

      I will always be glad to post at length trying to clarify my views, so you can ask away, and as you can see, i also sometimes misunderstand other people's words, but you will always see me coming back with clarifying questions

      thanks for the points that you have added to the discussion so far. They have added value and have expanded my knowledge in new directions!

      • Nov 16 2012: The problem I see with having faith in people, is that people usually only care about certain pet issues and issues related to survival. Not only that, the enlightenment was wrong about how the human brain works. Human reasoning doesn't work on rationality. So although 'life will go on' there's no guarantee human beings will effectively challenge power. (i.e. reach a critical mass) because of the biological requirements of intelligence + time+ energy, etc. Demographics is destiny, if intelligent people have fewer children and dumber ones have more that means change becomes difficult due to numbers.

        Consider: There is truly no technical reason to have homeless people even existing in a modern developed country, it's socially tolerated/enforced problem akin to slavery (a cultural/value artifact).

        (somewhat related)
        Just thought I'd pass him along, one of my favs for 'cutting the bs'.

        David Wolff (short)

        Full video

        He makes a lot of excellent points IMHO probably one of the few people who speaks in plain language and demystifies 'complex' problems.

        And when I say we have to move away from money/capitalism, it's not that I have a solution in hand it's just something that is going to have to be done over the long term since we can't afford to continue to go on as it is right now in the 21st century.

        I'm not a big believer in ideology without understanding, you have to understand how the universe works first, then you can start to ask questions about the sustainability and stability of a given behavior given the energy/resource/biological requirements.

        Then you can talk about bringing 'values' back into discussion, morality, values, principles can only be understood if you understand how the universe works first and whats realizable given those limitations.

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