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5.0 out of 5 stars
Full of insights, April 2 2011
The human brain is a wondrous thing -- especially that huge subconscious part that hums along without us giving much thought to it. We go through the day without having to think about the mechanics of breathing, digesting our food, walking, running, smiling laughing. We respond to all sorts of stimuli in our environment without having to give them much (if any) conscious thought: when we hear something funny we smile or laugh without first figuring out what makes it amusing or having to think through which muscles in our face we need to move in order to accomplish the task; when we're walking along and reach a set of stairs, we don't have to consciously think about lifting our leg higher; if someone throws a rock in our direction we instinctively duck or move out of the way without having to consciously process the danger of the situation and figure out how to move out of the way. In fact, most of our actions are determined by our subconscious brain. Yet when it comes to language and advertising, most of us operate on the assumption that the normal functions of our subconscious brain are magically suspended. Not so, according to this insightful book.
The authors weave together a broad range of research and examples to demonstrate just how much of our behavior is determined below our conscious minds. They show that our responses to language, non-verbal cues, and emotional images are rarely the result of conscious and reasoned thought, but rather reflexive reactions based on a combination of hard-wiring and our internalized observations of how the world around us operates. Advertisers then use the latest scientific knowledge of our brains' `default' processing mechanisms to hawk their merchandise.
Fortunately, just as we can train ourselves to override our reflexes in various spheres of life, we can do the same when it comes to advertising. But in order to do so, we need to be aware of what those reflexes are and make conscious choices to respond differently. I always thought of myself as relatively immune to advertising, but I had no idea just how `sneaky' ads can be, and the degree to which they exploit the hard-wired settings in our brains. If you want true and meaningful choice when it comes to your shopping and voting behavior, I highly recommend you read this book.