The Psychology of Advertising

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In sophrology, any suggestions made by a therapist remain under the conscious control of his or her subject. Such is not the case in our daily lives: subtle, sometimes clandestine means of persuasion are commonly used by businesses to advertise their products, by government for propaganda purposes, and even by educators, in order to manipulate students without their knowledge.

"People who are exposed to these influences are totally ignorant of the psychological techniques being used on them - they think they can resist advertising and propaganda, that they are free to form their own opinions, that they can detect when they are being manipulated, and that ideas have no power over them."

To better understand how sophrological suggestion works, let's take a look at how advertising can change our behavior. Psychological laws governing the principles of advertising were formulated in the twentieth century, although many of the techniques had already been used for centuries. These laws helped advertisers influence potential buyers on both a rational, and irrational or intuitive level.

You may think that if you want to sell a product all you have to do is explain what it does. You could ask a few sincere people to list the reasons why they bought the product, and then expand those reasons into a commercial sales pitch.

Well, you would be wrong.

Selling is a lot more complex than that.

A classic example was reported by Ernst Dichter. A group called the Color Research Institute conducted an experiment on housewives: each housewife received three boxes of a sample detergent, one yellow, one blue, and one blue with yellow dots. They were asked to test the detergents and comment on which was best for delicate washing. Of course, all three boxes contained the same detergent.

A majority of women responded that the detergent in the blue box was too strong, that in some cases it damaged clothes. They said the yellow-box detergent was not as effective, leaving stains on some clothes. The third box -the one with both colors - was the best by far. Women said it was "marvelous" or "extraordinary" for cleaning delicate laundry.

People act for two kinds of reasons:

• Logical, rational reasons (originating in the neo-cortex);

• emotional, seemingly irrational reasons.

Under hypnosis, an idea or suggestion can be planted directly into a subject's subconscious mind. Subjects can even be told not to act on the suggestion until some later point in time (this is called posthypnotic suggestion).

For example, you could tell a subject to turn off all the lights in the room thirty minutes after he is awakened. Five minutes before the appointed time, the subject will start complaining of a headache, or say that the bright lights are hurting his eyes. He'll then go and turn them all off.

Interestingly enough, the subject has to find a rational reason for doing something irrational, in this case an action that was planted in his subconscious mind by the hypnotist.

To summarize:

1. The real motivation for our behavior often has nothing to do with the reasons we think are behind our actions, as demonstrated by the women comparing detergents, or the hypnotized subject closing all the lights.

2. These underlying motivations usually originate in the most primitive part of our brain.

3. Why we do things can be inf-luenced through the power of suggestion.

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