Day 432: This is Why you Like that Stuff

So, this is a continuation from this, I suggest you take a quick squiz for context.

Classical Conditioning: Learning Based on Association
The first process uses a basic principle of psychology - the evoking of an attitude by the association of an unconditioned stimulus with a neural or conditioned stimulus. When a stimulus that is capable of producing a positive response (the unconditional stimulus) regularly precedes a second stimulus (the conditioned stimulus), the first becomes a signal for the second. Advertisers and other persuasion agents have considerable expertise in using this principle to create positive attitudes toward their products. Although tricky in the details, it is actually a fairly straightforward method for creating new attitudes. To start with, you need to know what your potential audience already responds positively toward (what to use as the unconditioned stimulus). If you are marketing a new beer, and your target audience is young adult males, you might safely assume that attractive young women will produce a positive response. Next, your product (in the form of your beer logo, the neutral or conditioned stimulus) is repeatedly paired with images of beautiful women. Before long, positive attitudes will develop toward your new beer. 
This process, known as classical conditioning, has important implications for attitude formation.
Consider how this process might affect not only consumer preferences but also social attitudes. A young child sees her mother frown and show other signs of displeasure each time a member of a particular ethnic group is encountered. At first, the child is neutral toward members of this group and their visible characteristics (eg skin colour, style of dress, accent). The child has not yet learned to categorize these variations in terms of group membership. However once these cues are paired repeatedly with the mother's negative emotional reactions, then classical conditioning occurs, and the child comes to react negatively to members of a particular ethnic group. This can occur without the child having conscious access to the role that her mother's subtle facial changes have had on the attitudes formed (De Houwer, Thomas, & Baeyens, 2001). The result is that the child acquires a negative attitude that is generalised to members of that group as a whole (Walther, 2002), an attitude that may ultimately form the core of prejudice... - Social Psychology, by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe, & Donn Byrne

Why do you make a choice? Why do you choose one product over another? Did you consider that quality of the product? Did you test the quality of the product? Or do you feel a "connection" to that particular product?

We tend to trust those products that we see being advertised, watching the ads make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. The real kicker is that all of this goes one while our brains are deactivated - we don't realise what it is we're actually experiencing within ourselves and why. Think back to your childhood: did you like the peanut butter you saw on TV, or the brand you'd never heard of? Did you fight with your mom for your favourite brand that had the most entertaining advert? Hmmmmm.

As we "evolve" in our society, adverts are changing too. What worked 50 years ago does not work anymore. What does this cause? Well, adverts are becoming more "extreme". Women are getting more naked, kids are getting more spoiled, women are getting more admiration, men are getting more women... What do all of these ideas do to our poor fuzzled brains? They edge us ever closer to living those extremities. We all think we should live like those airbrushed, "perfect" pictures on TV. Obviously we can never attain that - so that is where our imagination comes in to give us a hand.

We use our imaginations to fill in the gaps of imperfection. "Oh, was that a zit over there? Of course not! I don't get zits. Silly me for even thinking that."
"I don't really have anything to talk about with my new boy/girlfriend - but at least he/she looks good. As long as he/she keeps looking good I will be happy. I promise I will."

It's funny what the mind can accomplish - a whole other world inside our heads, where we try to make ourselves believe that our lives are perfect, like the lives we see on TV. So we buy the things that we see on TV, because they are supposed to make us happy - they make the perfect people on TV happy, don't they?