The Economics of Consumption

By Charles S. Wyand | Go to book overview

ciently stimulating to force the desired response. As in other fields, certain specific laws have been formulated in an attempt to state the most effective means of suggesting action. Sidis, for example, has observed1 that the more indirect the suggestion, the greater its efficiency. He also enumerates seven conditions necessary in suggestion: attention must be fixed, distraction and monotony must be avoided, voluntary movements and the field of consciousness must be limited, inhibition must be minimized, and the suggestion must be immediately executed. Wherever one of these conditions failed to enter, Sidis discovered that "the experiment was a failure, that is, no suggestion was carried out."2 In addition, Hollingsworth warns against the suggestion of interference and points out that a suggestion will be strengthened by having it appear to be of "spontaneous internal origin," by making the suggestion a positive one, and by insuring a high degree of preliminary attention. The action power of a suggestion depends on the prestige of its source, the internal resistance it encounters, and the frequency with which it is met.3

In general, the laws of suggestion are the rules of propaganda. Keep presenting the idea incessantly, avoid argument, connect the idea to the desires of your audience, make the suggestion in clear, easily remembered language and always in the form of indirect statements.4 It is thus that action is stimulated. The choice of the individual is not only directed; the root desire is many times literally created and its force determined by the judicious use of the psychological factors we have been discussing. Economic activity is, therefore, rarely spontaneous, and is never independent of external influence. Usually we are conditioned to react as we do by a vast series of determinants that completely manipulate our choices, leaving the process of rationalization to us after our decisions have been made. We think we have made a free and reasoned selection simply because we have been in many cases so subtly influenced as to overlook the real basis of the choice made.


Summary

The general process of choice-making should now be fairly apparent. Being obsessed with feelings of inadequacy we buy where

____________________
1
Sidis B., The Psychology of Suggestion, p. 40.
3
Hollingsworth H. L., op. cit., pp. 224-234.
4
Dunlap K., op. cit., pp. 360-361.

-168-

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