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Age of Propaganda, by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson

Do you enjoy the commercial breaks in your favorite TV series? Probably not. For most of us, ads are something we have to endure; very few of us pay them any attention. And yet they still seem to work. We buy the products advertised and remember the cheesy jingles.Why is this?

Can we have half your attention please?

Advertisers don’t actually want your full attention because, if you were to really concentrate on their message, you’d judge it critically. So they use what is known as the peripheral route of persuasion. Unlike the central route of persuasion, where you appeal to a person’s rational mind, the peripheral route of persuasion seeks to influence your subconscious.

This is also why advertisers often flood your senses with bright colors and loud music. With your brain distracted, the message can bury itself in your subconscious without your rational mind being able to judge the quality of the information.

So next time you find yourself humming that annoying, cheesy jingle, you’ll know why.

For more on the power of persuasion, including why Rush Limbaugh is an expert grandfallooner, check out Age of Propaganda, by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson.

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