So, awareness of when we’re being put on may not be enough to curb the effectiveness of insincerity. Surely most people recognize that after drinking Bud Light a gang of gorgeous men and women will not be bursting into their apartment, eager to toast their new best friend. Or that they are one prescription drug away from not only lowering cholesterol but happily prancing through meadows with family and friends. What this research suggests, however, is that the implicit positivity we experience as a result of viewing these images could play an important role in what we reach for when standing in the liquor store staring at a freezer full of cheap beer. You may not know why, but you’d feel pretty good about a Bud right now. And while you feel certain to you that your preference is not due to those silly ads (just like it might seem obvious to a manager that they didn’t promote a candidate because he brings her donuts every morning), perhaps it is the certainty with which we dismiss these kinds of manipulative and deceptive appeals that allows them to hold such sway.
Are you a scientist? Have you recently read a peer-reviewed paper that you want to write about? Then contact Mind Matters co-editor Gareth Cook, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist at the Boston Globe, where he edits the Sunday Ideas section. He can be reached at garethideas AT gmail.com