The Psychology of Ads. How Does It Affect Consumerism Behavior?

Essay, 2016

4 Pages


Psychology of ads and consumerism

In the age of the rapid technological growth, mass communication media appeared to be a major domain that strives our attention to specific visual appeals that are mostly related to advertising campaigns. At this point, it is significant to mention that the reliability of the information presented on these ads might be questioned while sometimes the interpretations of particular visual disturbances might be dual. Hence, the application of specific strategies in the ads functioning might draw customers’ attention to specific objects that might not be needed by them while the ad pushes people to buy these things. All ads aim specific audience while their effectiveness is widely discussed. The impact of ads is analyzed from different perspectives while sometimes the effect can be even greater than expected. Children are more vulnerable to ads’ which can quickly shift their views and make them want to buy specific products. On the other side, psychological strategies drive consumerism behavior of all clients, aiming to provide more income for the company at any cost. Therefore, it is essential to analyze all perspective of the ads’ psychological aspects that might influence people’s behavior and discuss possible ways of controlling their consumerism behavior.

First of all, it is significant to talk about the consumerism in general. Consumerism makes our entire life as a striving hunt for specific goods and services which might be essential for our living (Brusseau 614). However, advertising might shift our perception of needs and wants and trigger specific desires which were not common before. At that point, those desires which are affected by advertising might violate basic human rights related to the freedom of choice (Brusseau 614). People might be driven by specific desires which were created by particular companies to sell their goods and services while the proper psychological strategies’ use might create desires which are far of customers’ needs. The consumer might be left without money and with products they do not need for the leaving, creating problems in their lives and the nation as a whole. The psychological impact of ads might decrease the customers’ satisfaction as well as people’s happiness and wellness. The problem of mass control is an ethical question which is usually skipped by governments due to the subjectivity of these effects. That happens due to the unexpected response of the audience to certain triggers so that some people might be thrilled to buy as many products, presented in the ad, as possible while others will never deal with the company during their whole life and their attitude towards the company will be negatively affected by these ads. Such imbalanced response blocks people’s understanding of how the system works while companies make billions reaching their target audience and spotting those who are addicted to shopping. Another critical perspective of the ad function is the effect of those campaigns on children while some countries even ban those ads that might utilize their resources to affect children audience. The psychological approaches might be used to change children’s understanding of the world around them and create the wrong vision of specific things that might be related to their life which raise the question of the need for protection of young citizens (Brusseau 614). While the effect of ads might not be negative all the time, the proper regulation of ad campaign is needed, but that can be done only by the advanced critical thinking within consumers which will rely on the proper cost-effective analysis as well as evaluation of potential drawbacks of any decision.

Unfortunately, the choices made by consumers can also be easily regulated by the use of proper psychological strategies. Companies put billions of dollar in advertising, designing the most efficient ways to increase demand. At this point, scholars researched specific psychological impacts of consumerism behavior, discovering paradoxes that can be used by companies to change people’s minds and force them to choose specific products, thinking that they were free to choose it. The freedom becomes subjective at the point when specific psychological strategies are utilized to drive people minds. For example, the Paradox of Choice relies on the people dealing with the number of choices presented while the specific regulation of accessed samples might increase their willingness to buy specific products (Coburn 14). The Paradox of Choice could be presented by the use of specific experiment conducted by Coburn (14). The study carried out the research in supermarkets, offering people free samples of jam. All participants received one dollar discount coupon for the jam of their choice purchase. The study uses two experiment settings with six possible jam types and 24. It was interesting to realize that the presentation of 6 jams increased purchases ten-fold compared to the trial results with 24 jars of jam. Too much choice is not good for advertising which creates a particular paradox where people had to be tended to buy products having a more accurate vision of all pros and cons of specific products. The limited choice created a specific setting which increased their tendency to buy and choose a particular jam to bring it home. That paradox is a psychological strategy to increase profit, presenting specific products to increase sales. While customers are free to choose any product as well as to buy it or not, it is evident that their behavior can be influenced by an advertising campaign, increasing their tendency to buy specific products by 30 percent. However, advertising is a science so that some strategies might work and others might be ineffective. Therefore, the trial of all psychological strategies take billions of dollars to make a relevant decision and shift consumerism behavior in the way the company wants it to be after all.

Another example of how the psychology works in the formation of people’s attitudes towards specific products can be viewed from the perspective of low prices, discount, or “free” offers, which appeared to be the most interesting psychological strategy. The cost of “zero” was examined by Ariely and Shampan'er in their article "How small is zero price? The true value of free products." The viewed the concept of “zero” price as a complex number that strives needed response and drive people intentions. It is significant to say that the cost-benefit difference usually drives people to pick up products that they view the most beneficial for the lowest price (Ariely and Shampan'er 2). However, they make the “zero” price as the most profitable for them because they think that they obtain specific benefits without paying anything which appeared to be the greatest mistake of all times that is used by many companies to increase income. The authors conclude that this perception is driven by social norms while the zero price decrease our need to think about quality and other important aspects of the product in general. Unfortunately, people do not know the real price of the “free” product which can be used as a “present” to sell other products for higher prices or pay for customers’ time and effort with a cheap currency.

To summarize the issue, it should be mentioned that The psychology of ads and consumerism, in general, are complex subjects which are researched by many parties worldwide, spending billions of dollars to find proper solutions to specific situations. The only victims here would be customers who are tended to be driven by desires that were not common for them before ads appearance in their lives. Hence, it is important to raise people awareness of specific strategies that might control their behavior while the understanding of how the whole system works might not be even apparent for best researchers in this field.

Works Cited

Journal Articles:

Ariely, Dan, and Kristina Shampan'er. "How small is zero price? The true value of free products." (2006).

Coburn, Grace V. "A Psychological Analysis of Behavioral Consumerism: Advertising, Decision-Making, and its Implications for Retailers." (2015).


Brusseau, James. Business Ethics. 2016. Print.


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The Psychology of Ads. How Does It Affect Consumerism Behavior?
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ISBN (eBook)
psychology, does, affect, consumerism, behavior
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Tom Harper (Author), 2016, The Psychology of Ads. How Does It Affect Consumerism Behavior?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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