(Planet Me)
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Sold On Language : To Buy, Or Not To Buy?

Our world is defined by language. Ideas are shaped by words, opinions shaped by colours and placement. Our definition of freewill, as such, is an obsolete concept – insomuch as the world we inhabit – and the decisions we make – are formed by information, and the control of that information is often used to influence, shape, or adversely control the only decisions we truly have, which is the decision to participate in our economy, or withdraw – and to what extent. This tome explores that world, and how language is used Orwellianly, to reduce our own choices

To Buy, Or Not To Buy? That is the question.

This text sells itself as one of those more lighthearted, accessable layman texts for train journeys and casual afternoons on the sofa. It is not. It does not explain how to decode the messages of advertising, how to resist the charms of applied psychology, how sales attempts to circumvent your initial resistance, or how to fight the need you didn’t know you had until you encountered this Product, Service, or Gimmick.

It is a dense, light-academic work that explores, in a less than casual manner, the seriousness of salesmanship,. And how we are sold to everywhere, everyday, in every manner. For a serious, top-ranking salesman it’s probably both manna from heaven – and a magician revealing his curious tricks before pulling the rabbit of profit from an expensive hat. For the casual observer this is a worthy – but difficult, impenetrable read.

There is a field of psychology that is devoted to industry and organization. While part of that is good - helping businesses internally to make the workplace a better environment for employees - the part that helps businesses attract consumers irritates me.

I've just graduated with a psych degree, and plan to continue on to graduate school. I'm doing this because I want to better understand and help people. To me and most of my psych friends, psychologists who work for companies to help them sell products are anathema. It is my belief that they are using their knowledge, if not to harm, then to potentially work against the best interest of large groups of people in order to help companies earn a profit.

It is, not surprisingly, one of the most lucrative fields in psychology. Companies pay big bucks for insight into what will help sell their products.

Personally, I'd rather be poor with my integrity intact.
Fascinating stuff, A. I'd love to know more.
We didn't go into it in too much depth. It's a specialty in the field.

The gist of it is that sometimes psychologists are hired as consultants: marketing, product feasibility, that sort of thing. The idea is that psychologists can provide insight into how consumers think, what will make people (in general or in certain demographics) more likely to be interested in a product or service. Think profiling, but for businesses instead of criminal justice.

These psychologists are paid well, more than any other field of psychology. Unless, perhaps, those specialists used by the government, but that's a whole other can of worms again.

Regarding the corporate psychologists, I just can't help but feel that it's a betrayal on some level. Not everyone agrees with me, but for me and most of my friends, it isn't why we chose to become psychologists.
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