Go Grab the Tin Foil To Protect Your Brain From All This Mind Control

Published June 6, 2012 by jrm17

Somehow in the midst of researching for my paper (Whoo!  On page 31!), I came across this article.  Now don’t ask me how researching psychological priming in advertising specifically for movies leads to mind control (Okay, well you can and I can probably explain it but let’s not try) but I thought this was really funny.  Yes, I know I should be more worried about getting this paper done but I’m 31 pages in (Whoo!) and only about a month into summer break; that leaves me with a little less than a year left to finish (I’m upping my goal from 40 to 60 pages.  We’ll see how this plays out) and, therefore, I can entertain (okay, distract) myself with some funny articles (There’s a second one to come).

First off, apparently we are all being controlled by the color of our pills.  The article talks about these studies that have shown the color of the pill affects how people respond to what it supposed to be and the whole placebo effect thing.  Well, I always just thought my P.M. pills were blue because we associate blue with night and, therefore, those of us who are too lazy to read the box will know to take that during the night and the happy little orange ones during the day.  Headache pills are red and white because ambulances are red and white and sometimes my head hurts enough to make me think I need an ambulance.  Plus, maybe it’s just me but I associate red with pain and headache pills stop my pain (by making me sleep most of the time).  I figured my simple solution–that the colors were designed to enable laziness–was just how things worked.

I get the placebo effect.  We get told something will happen when we drink the Kool-Aid…I mean take the pill and it happens because that’s what we expect since our minds control part of our body’s system or whatever.  I don’t think the color really has anything to do with me believing the pill is going to do something and it actually happening.  It’s going to happen because the guy in the white jacket with the stethoscope told me it’s going to happen and I assume they aren’t lying.  If you hand me a white birth control pill (the sugar pills you take at the end of your cycle), I’m not going to instantly start the insanity that is my period just because it’s white (We are assuming that it’s actually the correct pill for a day that I wouldn’t be).  TMI, I know but it gets my point across.

Then, they start talking about priming (That explain why it came up in my Google search).  Their explanation doesn’t really make much sense to me with the whole flowers in grocery store equals freshness thing because grocery store flowers don’t represent freshness.  Let me tell you as someone who has been given grocery store flowers, they are nice when its a little surprise or whatever but when it’s time to actually get someone flowers for a legitimate reason, they represent pathetic-ness or “I’ve done something really wrong and need to make up ASAP.”  You see, priming is the phenomena where you are exposed to a certain word or such and your mind associates with a specific product or brand like “Subway Fresh.”

Now, it’s been proven that priming works.  So I’m not arguing that.  I’ve read enough psychology and advertising books to understand that.  I just think that calling it a form of mind control is pushing it.  It’s more of the planting the idea kind of thing or a form of social control.  But, whatever, I get the concept of jounalistic hyperbole.  It’s cool.  I just focus on details too much and may have too much useless information about too many topics.

The next “form of mind control” is another no brainer: the way things are phrased.  Umm, duh?  I think we all know that when you phrase things in different ways it tends to affect how we respond.  If something is asked positively, you can start to form a positive attitude and vice versa with negative questions.  That’s why legit polls, surveys, and so forth ask question that are neutral in their wording and the same question is asked multiple times in different ways to ensure the respondents are consistent in their answers (By comparing the answers to the similar questions).  Sometimes wording gets confusing.  Sometimes you just don’t read every word and kind of assume you get the gist of what they want.  Sometimes you don’t read any of the words and just circle answers.  It happens.  We learned all that stuff in Social Research Methods 101.  I’m pretty sure this isn’t some groundbreaking news.  Heck, I’m pretty sure most people could figure this one out with out having my weird love for research and sociology.

Did you know that we “emotionally bond with people you sing with”?  Now, I might call this social control because we naturally tend to want to fit in but I can support this claim with my own experience.  In fact, I may have done a little (very little) research on this my freshman year in my SOC101 class.  You see, we were studying folkways and mores.  Our project was to break a folkway (a minor social norm as opposed to mores being major ones like laws).  I decided that since walking around barefoot was already taken I would sing in public.  I started out a little scared (Hey, you try singing cowboy Casanova in the middle our your campus commons?  Trust me, you get stared at) but then I started having fun.  By the end of it, I might have been singing “Party in the USA” (Don’t judge.  There are two people in this world: those who are rollin’ with Nolan and those who can’t rock to Party in the USA) in the middle of Wal-Mart and having two redneck guys singing right along.  We totally bonded.  I got an A.

Of course, you can see this happen any day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  If you’ve never been to a game there, you should go and see what happens during the 7th Inning Stretch.  It might be that all the fans get up and start singing “root, root, root for the Orioles” followed by some dancing and singing to “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”  I have done this a million and one times and I can assure you that you bond with the people in the seats around you when you start clapping your hands and playing the air fiddle.  It’s some good times.  It’s even better when people who have never seen it kind of look at you like WTF?  It makes it all worth it.  Plus, I love John Denver.

The final thing is that products have facial expressions and we buy accordingly.  I can get on board with this one, too, because I know darn well that me and my Jeep, Grady, are soul mates.  And I have been one to just pick up on the emotions that inanimate objects are giving off and buying because of that.  To be completely honest, I have looked at some cars every now and then and thought, “Huh, that one looks like it’s smiling.”  They say it’s all about power but I have a different theory.  Being an amateur ghost hunter (and a huge Ghost Hunters fan), I’m aware of the phenomena called matrixing where our mind creates familiar images in clutter because it is trying to sort out all the chaos.  Now, it’s a little easier with cars because the eyes are the headlights and the grill is the mouth and we can all see that but our mind is the one creating the face and deciding what the expression is.  I think we then buy the car because it fits our mood/personality.  We don’t buy it thinking, “This car looks angry and people will get out of my way then.”  I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion, though.

Do you feel like you mind is being controlled now?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  I’ll forewarn you that Friday’s post will come from this site, too.  I may have gotten a little off track when I was writing and looked at another article or so (Hey, I’m on page 31.  Yeah, I’m just going to keep saying it because I’m so happy to made it that far).

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