Analysis of Advertising and Behaviour Control

1005 WordsOct 5, 20155 Pages
Sunny Johal 3492527 1 Analysis of Advertising and Behaviour Control by Robert L. Arrington Observation: In his essay, “Advertising and Behaviour Control,” Robert L. Arrington provides a discussion on the power of advertisements. He attempts to solve whether or not businesses are acting unethically when advertising. The question raised asks: Do advertisements lead to a loss of autonomy in humans? Arrington begins his argument by presenting advertisements that suggest unrealistic outcomes from the use of certain products. He refers to this practice as “puffery” (283), a perfectly legal advertising tool which precisely appeals to consumer “needs and desires” (283). Human autonomy is questioned with the belief that these “needs…show more content…
This argument states that a person may not be able to act rationally at all because the advertisements are causing them to act involuntarily. This would occur because an advertisement causes an “irresistible impulse or 2 Arrington, Robert L. “Advertising and Behaviour Control.” Journal of Business Ethics. 1982. 283­289. Web. 13 November 2013. Sunny Johal 3492527 3 unconscious drive” in a person. Arrington states that there are impulses “we do not resist and [those which] we could not resist.” This is saying that if a person knowingly purchases something by justifying it to themselves, regardless of the negative consequences, they still have free choice. However, somebody who compulsively purchases something, knowing that they should not, does not have free choice. Although, unfair to the person, it is not up to the advertiser to cater to psychological conditions of few consumers (287­288). Furthermore, Arrington expands on the issue of advertisers removing free choice through control or manipulation. He explains that a person controls another’s actions if they have intent, are causally effective, and ensure conditions are met. He explains that intent and ensuring conditions being met are crucial to control. A business intends for consumers to buy it’s product. They conduct research, invest, develop, and advertise with the intent
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