Friday, October 01, 2010

Darwinian “triggers to persuasion and captivation” read more like the seven deadly sins.

From my recent MercatorNet column:

The Darwinian world of brand marketing

We all know what evolutionary psychology (EP) has meant for sociology, psychology, and religious anthropology: a serious effort to explain human behaviour in terms of ape behaviour or “hardwired” Stone Age genes. For example, you get your selfish genes from your mother, so it’s her fault if you don’t visit her...

The EP academics, however pernicious their ideas, are doubtless just trying to understand. But what happens when their theories hit the business world? Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead (Harper Business, 2010) gives us a glimpse of the Darwinian universe, as opposed to the Judeo-Christian one.

Hogshead is a brand marketing specialist. She helps executives persuade us to pay more for a brand than for a reliable service. Her special theory, gathered from research studies of apes and brain scans, is that the best strategy is “fascinating” people, and she has identified seven triggers for the spells a perceptive marketer can cast on them: lust, mystique, alarm, prestige, power, vice, and trust.

This list vaguely echoes the seven deadly sins, except for the last. But caution! Here, trust is not an intuition about how the universe really works; it is manipulative. We are told, “trust doesn’t demand a moral absolute—only absolute consistency.” (p 175)

Hogshead begins by disposing of free will. (MercatorNet, 30 September 2010)
And she’ll end by disposing of your bank account if you don’t look sharp.

For example,

*Still more news from the world of privilege: “Not so long ago, the height of epicurean indulgence was a gold box filled with Godiva chocolates … Then, in an effort to expand, in 1999 Godiva made a fateful decision to distribute in mass retailers such as Barnes & Noble. The chocolates, which for the first time now included preservatives, were no longer a treat to be craved and desired. Now you could buy the gold box in strip malls. (Strip malls!)” (79)

Huh? Does this writer really not know that millions of her fellow Americans crave the goods of strip malls in vain?

Read more here.

So tell me again, Uncle Doddy: Given the stats, how does sin promote survival - for anyone but the rackets downtown?

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.