Can Marketers Fool You Into Thinking You Haven’t Been Fooled?

By Randy Milanovic

Stop and think for a moment about how often you’ve seen something advertised on TV, or the Internet, and thought to yourself: “who would be stupid enough to buy that?”

The implication, of course, is that other people could be tricked or swayed by transparently flimsy logic, but that you yourself are too savvy to fall for such simple-minded tricks.

Most of us believe, on some level or another, that the public at large is just a little bit more gullible than we are. We just know, deep down inside, that we can’t be influenced like other people can. Or can we?

Start at the beginning of this series on Biases in marketing and business.

We tend to hear we want to hear, and believe what we want to believe. The fact that we think we can’t be influenced as easily as others even has a name and psychology: third person effect.

The interesting thing about the third-person effect is that it overlaps with other biases, and affects us on such a subconscious level that it’s difficult to detect. In some ways, it coincides with egocentric bias, in that we tend to think more of our own opinions and abilities than those we assign to others.

It also has an aspect of social desirability bias (which we’ll dive into in a future post), in that we all want to be seen as being worldly and wise. So, how does third person effect alter your thinking on a day-to-day basis? And what does it mean for your performance as a marketer?

Let’s go a little bit deeper into the details…

Third Person Effect Highlights Negative Associations

As noted above, the big result that comes from third person effect is the idea that you are smarter than the average bear. That means the underlying psychological phenomenon is less pervasive – or even reversed – depending on whether a situation causes you to see yourself positively or negatively.

Let’s look at a straightforward example to see how this could work.

Suppose for a moment you were to see an advertisement for a cigarette, or some other unhealthy product. Perhaps the ad shows a bunch of glamorous-looking people having a great time at a party.

Assuming you don’t already have a nicotine habit, you are much more likely to report that such an advertisement might influence other people to take up smoking, drinking, or some other ill-advised behaviour than to consider the notion that it might influence you to do the same. You are probably going to feel like you couldn’t be manipulated in such a transparent way.

However, let’s reverse things and imagine another advertisement.

Instead of being for something unhealthy and socially unacceptable, suppose this ad is for a charity that encourages you to share your wealth during the holiday season.

It might feature celebrities or prominent individuals giving donations to less fortunate individuals and inviting the viewer to follow their example.

In such a situation, third person effect works in the opposite direction. That is, you are very likely to report that you would be Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

Be Sociable, Share!