What does marketing have to do with badly advised consumer behavior?

Researchers from the University of Hawaii and the University of Florida published a new article in the Marketing magazine which argues that a biological representation of human behavior, particularly undesirable behavior, is beneficial to human beings. This biological perspective can complement the traditional psychological, anthropological, and economic perspectives on consumption, especially with regard to the important issue of self-control.

The study included in the Marketing magazine, entitled “Consumer Self-Regulation and the Life Sciences: Implications for Marketing Actors” and written by Yanmei Zheng and Joe Alba.

Society’s understanding of human disease is constantly evolving. Many ill-advised consumer behaviors are traditionally viewed through a non-biological lens, often neglecting the underlying biological cause of such behaviors. This research looks at two biological areas that have produced a tsunami of knowledge in recent years: neuroscience and genetics. A review of the biological literature shows that many undesirable consumer behaviors are biologically rooted in the brain and genes. These biological insights have important implications for public policy, marketing practices, and consumer wellbeing.

However, the researchers argue that biological insights won’t directly translate into improved wellbeing if those insights don’t impress the many marketing stakeholders. They also argue that the road to welfare-enhancing policies will be rocky if laypeople resist the effects of biology. They sought to understand the existing beliefs of laypeople about biological causes and to assess how those beliefs can be shaped by insights from the biological sciences.

To this end, the researchers conducted 10 studies to examine lay beliefs and biological responses to biological causes. Zheng explains: “Overall, we find considerable resistance to biological causes, partly due to the deeply rooted belief in mind-body dualism. Furthermore, the studies show that the acceptance of biology as a causal explanation of human behavior varies Function of depicting biological causation, the nature of the behavior, the extent of the actor’s deliberation, and the individual differences of the external observer. Optimistically, the studies also suggest that acceptance of biological causation can be influenced by marketing science and marketing practice. ”

Biological causation has several effects. First, if biological causation is widely accepted by the public, policymakers’ efforts to regulate certain products and protect certain consumers will find more public support. In addition, measures that focus on prevention (e.g. investing in good quality parenting, social and family support programs, etc.) will be more popular. Second, bio-causation for some companies (e.g. unhealthy food and weight loss programs) can lead to greater public scrutiny and change business models for others (e.g. health and insurance industries). Biological causation can also open new opportunities for companies that offer social benefits and self-improvement opportunities. Third, biological causation will improve consumer self-image, which can lead to improved well-being. It will also improve understanding of others, which can lead to more empathy and mutual respect.

Alba says, “We believe that a biological representation of human behavior can benefit human beings. Additionally, we believe that marketing can play a crucial role in facilitating public understanding and acceptance of biological causes. A better understanding of biological foundations of behavior should reduce morale. ” Encourage ranting and empathy towards those with poor self-control and other “flaws” – including depression, indecision, social awkwardness, infidelity, and even lack of empathy – for whom the biological and psychological causes are falsely separated. Understanding of biological causes is increasing, as well as compassion, mutual understanding and social well-being. “


For full article and author contact information, see: https: //.doi.org /10.1177 /0022242920983271

About the Marketing magazine

The Marketing magazine develops and disseminates knowledge on real-world marketing issues that are useful to scientists, educators, managers, policymakers, consumers, and other social stakeholders around the world. Published by the American Marketing Association since its inception in 1936, JM has been instrumental in shaping the content and boundaries of the marketing discipline. Christine Moorman (T. Austin Finch, senior professor of business administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business) is the current editor-in-chief.

https: //.www.ama.org /jm

About the American Marketing Association (AMA)

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