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Consumer Behaviour
01-31-2013, 02:17 AM,
RE: Consumer Behaviour
Quote:An Alarming National Trend: Are We Manufacturing Victims?

Tana Dineen, PhD

Author, Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry is Doing to People

Special Presentation on February 6, 1998 at the Harassment Law Update 1998 Conference; The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. Canada


I have, undeniably, broken ranks; I speak very critically of my own profession. And, in the next few moments, I will begin to put my concerns as they pertain to sexual harassment litigation “on the table.” From the outset, I would like you to know that I can back up anything I say, including those statements which clash dramatically with widely accepted ideas. I’m a serious researcher and an obsessional file keeper. I will encourage your skepticism, welcome your questions, gladly provide you with my sources, and invite you, at any time today or in the future, to examine them and to challenge me.

I was, in fact, drawn to the discipline of psychology by the intriguing questions that it asked and by the insistence that any answers, and all statements, be examined from every angle and seriously scrutinized. For almost 3 decades, I worked as a clinician, trying to apply the knowledge from my discipline. But Psychology has changed; today there are too many answers and too few questions; the humble curiosity has given way to an arrogant certainty. It seems that psychologists have discovered that Questions don’t pay, only Answers do.

Five years ago, I forced myself to step back and take a cold hard look at what my profession has become. I am still a psychologist by license here in B.C. and in Ontario but I am NOT practicing. What I see being done under the name of psychology is so seriously contaminated now by errors in logic, popular myths and personal beliefs, and it is doing so much harm to people, that I find myself in this strange role of working to curb the pervasive influence of my own chosen profession.

Long ago I lost any expectation that any necessary corrective actions would come from within the profession; so, I find myself speaking most often now to people outside my profession—to philosophers, to ethicists, to the clergy, to educators, to criminologists and to lawyers. Last Fall, in Halifax, I had the opportunity to address the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges. The topic they gave me was: Judicial Skepticism: Judging Psychology and Psychologists, and my message to them, put simply, was that:

(1) psychology is an industry masquerading as a profession,

(2) this industry is aggressively targeting the judicial and legal systems as growth markets for its services.

(3) the current business formula of this industry is:


(4) trusting psychologists is so dangerous to the Justice System that judicial skepticism is not only warranted but urgently needed!

The topic I was given for today’s luncheon talk is the question: Are we manufacturing victims? The short answer is “YES;” now let me elaborate.

Over 30 years ago, I walked into my first psychology class at McGill. The professor was a lean, older man who walked with a limp. His name was Donald Hebb, and he was one of the most respected neuropsychologists of this century. I can remember him saying something to me which I have only recently come to fully appreciate. He kept insisting that psychology must be “MORE than common sense;” that psychologists must be obliged to go beyond what people commonly believe, to test out notions and see if they stand up under scrutiny. He insisted on science—on investigation. Unfortunately, psychologists seem so dedicated now to confirming their own notions that the voices of those who remain committed to examining these notions, testing them and disproving them are rarely heard. So, it is the untested, unproven psychological notions which have come to influence thinking and discourse. People, throughout society, are mistaking “psychological notions” for “psychological knowledge” or they are so enamored with these notions that, even when the ideas make no sense at all, they refer to them as “common sense.”

The Justice System, and sexual harassment litigation in particular, is an area in which such notions are having a profound effect. I’d like to point them out and ask each of you to consider the implications from your own vantage point. First, I am going to ask you to consider a disturbing reality, that is that the profession we call “Psychology” has actually become “THE PSYCHOLOGY INDUSTRY.”

1. The psychology industry

We are accustomed to viewing psychology as a scientifically based profession and psychologists as healers and helpers, striving to reduce suffering and eradicate social problems. But this is the promoted image—the public image. I’m asking you now to consider an alternate image—that of Psychology as big business and of psychologists as those who profit from the sale of psychological products/services/influence.

What if Psychology is actually an industry? And what if, like most industries, it is focused on:

protecting its own interests
expanding its market
increasing its influence.

The implications are serious and, before discussing them, let me first give you a bit of the history of Psychology. At the beginning of the 20th century, it emerged, first, as a discipline, comparable to philosophy or anthropology; then, very quickly, it became a “a profession,” like medicine and law and; then, with virtually no-one noticing what was happening, it became an industry. When the American Psychological Association (APA) was formed just over 100 years ago, there were only a dozen or so members; they were primarily physicians or philosophers; not one of them was “a licensed psychologist.” Now there are 151,000 members of that association alone and professional licenses abound.

This credentialing actually started as recently as the 1950’s, when Medicine was threatening to designate psychotherapy as a medical procedure. Basically, medical doctors were saying that they, and only they, should diagnose mental illnesses and treat people for psychological problems. To protect themselves from becoming quickly unemployed, psychologists established licensing boards, which means that they gave themselves licenses; then, they used these licenses to create monopolies and to qualify themselves for third-party payments. Protecting the public had nothing to do with it; self protection did. Not surprisingly, Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and a whole range of people, offering mental health services followed their lead, establishing licensing boards of their own. And, even as we sit here today, new credentialing bodies are being formed.

For example, five counseling organizations, including such groups as the B.C. Association of Clinical Counselors and the B.C. Art Therapy Association, have applied recently to the Health Professions Council of BC, for designation under the Health Professions Act, in a move to have “counseling” designated as a restricted act. Yet, there is no consensus or even clear idea of what counseling means, and to qualify for membership in some of these organizations, there is no minimum academic requirement and no training is required other than experience. These people, who claim their areas of service to include the counseling of “sexual abuse” victims, if they aren’t there already doing so, may soon be among the “experts,” who offer services to you and your clients. Are they professionals? You decide. Is this a business move? It certainly is!

Another group wanting to get licensed, recently posted on the Internet the following statement:

“Certification is one of the major ways in which unrecognized or under-recognized professions achieve parity and recognition.”

And that’s precisely my point! Licensing, certification, credentialing in psychology is about money. It’s about looking credible and getting paid.

When I use the term “psychologist,” I use it with a small “p,” referring to all of these people who sell expert opinions, market their workshops about stress and trauma, diagnose/label people as suffering from psychological injuries, offer victim support and do counseling and psychotherapy. When I use the term, “The Psychology Industry,” it’s the business, the packaging, promotion and sale of these services that I’m talking about.

If we consider just the big “P” licensed psychologists like me, we have per capita 1/4000 but if we consider all of them (including the Abuse Counselors, Trauma Counselors, Social Workers, Crisis Workers,.) the estimate would be about 1/250. Keep in mind that this is a better ratio even than lawyers. An APA president has jokingly said that soon there will be more psychologists than people in America and a Psychiatric Association President (not joking at all) has said:

“actually, no less than the entire world is a proper catchment for present day psychiatry (and psychology), and psychiatry need not be appalled by the magnitude of the task… Our professional borders are virtually unlimited”
Howard Rome, 1968 President, American Psychiatric Association

Like anyone with something to sell, these people need customers.

Now, there is nothing intrinsically wrong in wanting to earn a living, even a good living. That’s an issue for all of us. But there is a problem when people, claiming to be professionals, ignore both the lack of a knowledge base for what they are doing and fail to acknowledge the existence of research which suggests that their services may be ineffective or even harmful.

The increase in users of psychological services looks something like this:

60’s-14%; 70’s-26%;1990-33%; 95-46% and some are projecting that, by the year 2000, 80% of the population will be users.

II. The justice system as a growth market for psychology

The Psychology Industry, while trying to appear confident to its customers, is having its troubles. As more and more competitors appear and, and as money for health care decreases and along with it psychologist jobs, there is considerable worry, even panic, being expressed. Listen to a couple of recent quotes from Executives in Canadian psychological associations:

“Psychologists are expensive to feed and painless to drown.”

“Our profession is under siege. Government spending cuts for research, health care and education have gone well beyond the fat and are now deep into the muscle and bone.”

“Like it or not we have got to do business differently. This is not a false alarm but a wake up call; at issue is survival.”

Finding new target populations and new markets is a major activity and, progressively more, psychologists are seeking their survival within the Justice System.

As early as 1976, the APA, in its guide to career opportunities for psychologists, expressed the “expectation that in the future forensic psychologists will roam confidently and competently far beyond the traditional roles of psychologists…”

A 1995 membership survey of the APA indicated that almost 40% of members had been expert witnesses in court proceedings; almost half of licensed psychologists consider themselves to be experts and the courts agree.

The same year the Practice Directorate of the APA addressing the issue of income security, stated that “diversification is a viable form of self-preservation… Psychologists may still get a steady stream of clients paying out-of-pocket, but not enough to replace third-party payments…Forensics offers broad opportunities for psychologists.”

In September of last year the 1997 APA president stated: “I believe that forensic psychology is a growth area within psychology.”

The December issue of the APA’s flagship journal, American Psychologist, featured an article about a conference at Villanova Law School in which participants agreed that psychology “is poised to grab a more prominent role in law after years of hanging in the sidelines.”

III. Victim-making

If psychology is an industry and if it is, as seems evident, targeting the Justice system as a major market, what does this have to do with sexual harassment? Well, psychologists are earning money diagnosing your clients—putting labels on them, providing treatment, and, of course, offering their “expert opinions” to the Courts.

Remember the business formula?


That’s what they’re using, not consciously,—I don’t mean to imply that an official business strategy has been adopted or to suggest an actual conspiracy but, if you look at how the Psychology Industry is operating, the formula fits. And here is a very quick overview of how I see it working.

I would suggest to you that there are three types of sexual harassment ‘victims’:

REAL VICTIMS are the people who have been trying to deal/cope with a difficult situation; they are the women and men who come forward with reports that are true; they are the people who really have been sexually harassed or even stalked or sexually assaulted. I don’t question the existence of this group and I doubt that any one of you does. These people exist and they should be given respect and offered whatever protection and compensation is appropriate. Unfortunately, I see them being “used” by the Psychology Industry, which profits from focusing on psychological consequences, interpreting for them (and you) what they are going through, using terms like Chronic Stress, Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD), and low self-esteem to label them, and promising eventual recovery but only through treatment. The Psychology Industry, in many, if not most cases, is creating/intensifying/prolonging these psychological consequences. By describing how the typical victim reacts, telling us what we all supposedly need to know about stress and trauma, it forces these individuals into a stereotype of a “victim” and turns them into patients. The research, extensively reviewed in my book, does not support any of these notions and, in fact, suggests that turning real victims into stereotypic victims is unwarranted and may be harmful in many ways.

COUNTERFEIT VICTIMS are the liars, the self-made victims who learn to fit this stereotype by making use of the scripts provided by the Psychology Industry. For a variety of reasons, which you can likely list as well (or better) than I, people make false claims, often in a very convincing manner, covering up inconsistencies with confusion, managing to sound believable. And when exposed, their “crying wolf” stories, as well as hurting those they accuse and being costly to the system, have the effect of making it more difficult for real victims to be believed. Last year there was a dramatic, very public case at Simon Fraser involving an attractive female student and her swim coach. It certainly disturbed people and started many wondering just how many cases like this one there were, and how to deal with the reality that some alleged victims do lie. Most, if not all of us here, would concede that Counterfeit Victims exist and that they present a disturbing problem.

But there is a third type of victim you may or may not already be aware of and I would suggest that this third type, which I refer to as Synthetic Victims, presents an even more disturbing problem than Counterfeit Victims.

SYNTHETIC VICTIMS are the people who become persuaded that they have been sexually harassed and often they appear to be truly suffering the psychological consequences. These people are the “honest liars.” They are, for example:

- the woman (or man) who seduces a boss or coworker and then, feeling disappointed when it ends, remembers it differently;

- the hard worker who, needing to find an explanation (besides him/herself) for not getting an expected raise or promotion, rethinks some incident;

- the person who, having experienced incest or some more recent real sexual abuse or assault, is hypersensitive to sexual cues and already trapped in some self image of being victimized;.

- the person who describes a scene to a co-worker, a spouse or maybe to a psychologist or even a lawyer and is provided with encouragement to think about it differently, perhaps as an incident of harassment or assault.

Memories change; reactions change; feelings change AND stories change. Relatively trivial events can become dramatic; they can be molded, edited and modified to fit the sexual harassment script which people can easily find in pop psychology books, women’s magazines and on talk shows and now even on the Internet. As Mordecai Richler puts it in his most recent book Barney’s Version, these are people who “are tinkering with memory, fine-tuning reality.”

It is interesting that, although most of us would have no problem accepting the idea that Counterfeit Victims exist and might even be willing to consider the possibility that there are Synthetic Victims, the Psychology Industry gives some very authoritative and, I think, seriously misleading messages which discourage us from doing so. While I was preparing this talk, one of the first things I did was pull up on the Internet a Public Affairs document, intended to educate the public (including the legal community) about sexual harassment. It was an official statement posted by the APA. If anyone wants to take a look at it. I’ll tell you where to find it but let me now give you just one of the stated FACTS:

“Research shows that less than one percent of complaints are false. Women rarely file complaints that are false.”

Where, one might ask, does this “fact” come from? In this instance, I did what I have done on many other occasions; I searched out the source. First, I posed my question in a e-mail message to the Public Affairs Directorate which had posted it. No response; so, I tried again. No response. So, after a week, I phoned the Secretary of APA and he suggested that I contact the CEO which I did, sending to him copies of all unanswered requests for information. The CEO contacted the Public Affairs Directorate and, finally, I received a response saying that the document was written by two psychologists, Louise Fitzgerald and Lenore Walker and directing me to the senior researcher, Dr. Fitzgerald. I contacted her by e-mail and she responded in a style which has become painfully familiar to me, saying: “There are so many resources that it is difficult to know exactly where to start.” She mentioned a few books, such as No Safe Haven and The 9 to 5 Guide to Combatting Sexual Harassment, which she said were “more basic for the lawyer crowd” and ended her message with “Good luck.” I wrote back saying that I was quite familiar with this literature, could find no data in it to back the statement and asked her again for a response to my question. This time she wrote back a long, friendly message saying: “The actual study, which appeared in Signs some years back, which is the only systematic study ever conducted on this topic as far as I know, found that only 1% of claims were fabricated; this determination was made by the actual institutions against whom the claims were made. I always forget the exact reference, but I can look it up for you if it is important.” Well, facts are important to me; so, I e-mailed her back that “yes, it is important” and asked her to look it up of me. That was a couple of weeks ago now and I am still waiting for the reference. Now, in the same response in which she had mentioned that study, she said that “There is a similar study, although I’m not sure it was quite as good, that appeared in Working Women magazine a while back. I think it was done by Freda Klein in Boston; it is referenced in the Bravo book (I think.)” So, I did look that one up and what I found was a survey reported in the December issue of Working Woman. It was a survey of Fortune 500 managers and the conclusion was based on statements like this: “Every story I hear is very specific and detailed, too much so to be made up.” Now, aside from being a decade out-of-date, there are serious flaws with this survey. One of the most glaring of these is the notion that believing a story to be true proves that it is factual. I’ll get back to that topic shortly.

Right now, I just want to stress that it is important to ask where such numbers and “fact statements” come from. The type of information, such as that posted on the APA Sexual Harassment web-site and derived from such surveys can be considered to be “advocacy data:” numbers created to make a point or support an argument. This intentional misuse of numbers to set policies or win court cases has been termed “data rape.”

My concern is that such statements serve to influence people, those who make reports of sexual harassment and those who listen to these reports. Individuals become more likely to misinterpret situations, to see themselves as victims and to become unintentionally caught up in deceit and false claims. And all of us become more likely to accept, at face value, the stories both they, the Synthetic Victims and the intentional liars, the Counterfeit Victims, tell.

I don’t know what proportion of sexual harassment claims are false. But I have no reason to accept this “less than 1%” figure. When I asks lawyers, I get quite a range of responses and generally these are much higher. A few weeks ago, a U.S. lawyer who specializes in this area, said that he suspects that now about 10-15% of the claims being filed are made by Counterfeit Victims and about 60-70% of the claims being filed are made by Synthetic Victims. Has it gone that far? Well, I don’t know but I think that, because we don’t know, investigation in these cases becomes extremely important.

Aside from the influence of advocacy data, there are three pervasive ways in which the Psychology Industry contaminates sexual harassment litigation: psychologizing, pathologizing, and generalizing.

Psychologizing — “turning life into a theory”

As a society, we have become accustomed to seeking psychological explanations for every part of life and to relying on experts or specialists to give guidance, direction or approval. Who questions the notion that psychologists can see inside people’s heads and hearts, know their thoughts, intentions, motives? Who questions what the experts have to say about our lives from birth to death? Who questions that psychologists know best how to parent, make marriages work, combat violence, resolve conflicts, and grieve?

I’ll take just one of these, Grieving, as an example. Virtually everyone is familiar with the idea that there are stages: anger, denial, etc. and that it is basically a good thing to get people to talk, express their feelings and tell their story. But how many people are aware of the research which shows that grieving is a very personal, individual experience and that the idea of stage is just an unproven theory? And how many people are aware that there is research to suggest that when we encourage people to talk, express feelings and tell their painful stories, we may actually, in the long run, be interfering and preventing them from “getting over it”?

What one serious researchers who investigates the fascinating questions about how people experience loss and how they “get over it,” has termed the “bereavement industry,” is flourishing; The Association of Death Educators and Counselors (ADEC) boasts 2,000 members. When this researcher, George Bonanno attended the Association’s annual meeting last year to present the results of experiments, which clearly bring into question much of what these people are selling, there was virtually no reaction. These “professionals” simply continued to share their success stories and talk about the importance of the ‘caring’ and ‘healing,’ they provide, quite oblivious to the implications of his research.

Whether we are talking about grieving or about sexual harassment, what we are encountering are these ever-so-popular theories that imply that psychologists know how “victims” react, the stages they go through, the psychological consequences and the support that is required for recovery. Who is questioning them? Well, I am hoping that you will watch for the theories and examine them carefully to determine the extent to which they are nothing more than biased opinions and unsubstantiated beliefs.

The next time you listen to an expert, either in or out of court, I’ll ask you to think about this example of what a prominent psychiatrist, a professor at Harvard Medical School has said. This man has testified in many high profile cases involving accusations of sexual abuse/assault/harassment, presenting the expert opinion that all memories are valid and suggesting that a witness’s testimony must be true. This is an excerpt from a transcript of an interview on “Frontline”:


“Every time people tell a story, it’s basically a story that is looking for somebody to believe you to—be convinced. Of vital importance for a person’s well-being, own well-being, is to make a narrative of their own life that makes sense to them. And for people’s own well-being, the accuracy of one’s own story about oneself is not critical. We all tell tales about ourselves. We all have images of ourselves that are not entirely in keeping with the reality of one’s life, but we need to have a coherent version of ourselves.


“So what do you do? How do you ever know what the patient is saying actually happened?


“It’s like reading a novel. You read a bad novelist, after a while, you put the book down because the story doesn’t cohere. The story doesn’t make sense. People don’t talk this way and people don’t interact this way and the book is lousy. If you read a great book and the characters are true to life, that’s how people really feel and interact with each other. And eventually, when you do clinical work with people, the internal coherence of the story, how it all hangs together, is not very different from what the great novelists do.”

Apparently, all you need in order to be a credible witness is to have a good script, an interesting story, something that fits with the expert’s theory.

There is, in fact, a considerable body of research, which demonstrates that clinicians, such as this expert are as bad, or even worse, than most of us at distinguishing the truth from the lies and the fiction from the non-fiction. And most people, even the people who conduct the surveys on sexual harassment, seem either unaware or unconcerned. They accept the naive idea that if someone believes a story to be true, it is true.
Think back for a moment to the survey from which the conclusion that less than 1% of sexual harassment claims are false. Remember the quote from one of the managers about how he knew a particular story to be true? “Every story I hear is very specific and detailed, too much so to be made up.” We need to recognize how difficult it is to distinguish the truth from the lies and the fiction from the non-fiction and, to realize that when we bring in psychologists to help at any stage of the process, we may well be compounding that difficulty.

Fiction, fantasy, lying and deception have been aspects of clinical practice since its inception, and something to which clinicians have adjusted. Janet, a contemporary of Freud, said that it is sometimes in the best interest of the patient to lie for “there are some to whom as a matter of strict moral obligation, we must lie.”

Such an attitude is not the exception with many psychologists humming the same tune that it is not a matter of whether something is true or not, it is a matter of what the client believes and what makes her or him feel better.

Dan Sexton, Director of the National Child Abuse Hot Line, stated publicly: “I’m not a law enforcement person, thank God! I’m a psychology person, so I don’t need the evidence. I come from a very different place, I don’t need to see evidence to believe… I don’t care what law enforcement’s perspective is, that’s not my perspective. I’m a mental health professional. I need to find a way to help survivors heal to the trauma that they had as children and to help support other clinicians who are trying to help survivors and victims of this kind of crime.”

And here is a similarly oblivious statement made by a local physician/hypnotherapist, described as an internationally recognized authority who, just a few weeks ago in an article published in the Vancouver Sun, tried to “speak up on behalf of therapists” whose credibility was wavering in the light of some disturbing publicity about an unsuccessful prosecution of a teacher for alleged sexual abuse recalled during therapy. Marlene Hunter said: “I am a therapist; I discover dissociation, not lost memory.”

This blurring of the boundaries between fantasy and reality is rampant in the Psychology Industry and so too is the predominant theory that says that, “victims” of anything, from a brutal rape to an off-color joke suffer serious psychological consequences. Now that theory takes us directly to the second process what I call Pathologizing.

Pathologizing—“turning situations into sickness”

By pathologizing, I mean the turning events, feelings and problems into a variety of disorders requiring professional services without which the individual would get worse or society would be at greater risk.

Consider this statement:

“Verbal abuse is literally dangerous to our health, in the same way that contaminated food and polluted water and toxic waste are dangerous. There’s nothing “metaphorical” about this danger; it’s real.”

This was another claim for which I sought out the source. When I posed my question to the author, she responded with the usual line about there being so many resources that it is difficult to know where to start and ended up being unable to provide a single study to support her claim. Her statement is another example of advocacy data and one which makes use of “fear appeal”—a particular advertising strategy which is listed in the Marketing Dictionary. Fear appeal is what advertisers use to encourage us to rush out and buy products such as burglar alarms and earthquake insurance. And it is what is used to promote a wide range of psychological services, including those pertaining to sexual harassment.

The monthly newspaper of the APA, in the January/98 issue, states that sexual assault/ harassment is among the most serious of what, according to the APA are “hate crime.” The victims, it is claimed, need five years to overcome the emotional distress as compared to only two years for other, what psychologists call, “non-bias” crimes. (Five years of treatment at $100/session, given 4 weeks vacation per year; amounts to $24,000 and that’s not bad for business!)

Going back now to the Web-site posted by the APA to educate the public (including the legal community) about sexual harassment, listen now to what it says about the consequences of being sexually harassed::

Being sexually harassed can devastate your psychological health, physical well-being and vocational development. Women who have been harassed often change their jobs, career goals, job assignments, educational programs or academic majors. In addition, women have reported psychological and physical reaction to being harassed that are similar to reactions to other forms of stress. They include:

Psychological Reactions:

Depression, anxiety, shock, denial

Anger, fear, frustration, irritability

Insecurity, embarrassment, feelings of betrayal

Confusion, feelings of being powerless

Shame, self-consciousness, low self-esteem

Guilt, self-blame, isolation

Physiological Reactions:



Gastrointestinal distress

Dermatological reactions

Weight fluctuations

Sleep Disturbances, nightmares

Phobias, panic reactions

Sexual problems

Is all of this based on any objective research? NO! It is yet another example of “fear appeal” advertising and of pathologizing. If people really have (or think they have) been sexually harassed, such lists and statements can serve to suggest to them that they will begin to experience one or more of these problems. As well, psychologists argue that comments or behaviors are abusive or harassing if they lead to “poor self-esteem, depression, psychological sequellae requiring therapy, etc.” So, events, which had at the time seemed only annoying, can come to be reinterpreted as episodes of sexual harassment.

Back in 1961, in the first edition of his now classic book on psychotherapy, Jerome Frank wrote:

The demand for psychotherapy keeps pace with the supply, and at times one has the uneasy feeling that the supply may be creating the demand…Psychotherapy is the only form of treatment which, at least to some extent, appears to create the illness it treats.

Now, just as I would never question the existence of sexual harassment or of sexual assault or of discrimination, I would never question the existence of serious mental illness. The diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia does, I think, mean something but labels such as PTSD, Depression and Chronic Stress are more often than not inappropriately applied and serving not to identify an actual illness but rather to make people appear sick and disabled. Some of you may actually have seen cases in which you have suspected that such labels have actually gotten in the way of clients ever getting back work or getting on with their lives.

Aside from this psychologizing and pathologizing there is a third way in which the Psychology Industry is applying it’s formula and that is what I call “Generalizing.”

Generalizing—“it’s just as if…”

By generalizing, I mean the turning of progressively more trivial events into dramatic incidents. The verbal abuse quote that I mentioned earlier is one example. It seems that, while, as kids, most of us might have chanted “sticks & stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me,” and learned to shrug off the occasional nasty comment, we are now being taught that words do hurt and that our emotional injuries, especially if we ignore them, are every bit as debilitating as physical wounds.

Getting back now to sexual harassment, the process of generalizing is remarkably evident.

Here is one example of a survey question used to determine the occurrence and frequency of Sexual Harassment: “Have you ever been looked at in a way that made you uncomfortable?” and another “Has anyone ever said to you anything with sexual content that made you uncomfortable?”

What is sexual harassment?

In a mailed self-report survey of 916 US female family practice residents, reported by the American Medical Association (AMA), it was stated that 37% reported having suffered from Sexual Harassment. However saying “yes” to ever having been “the target of malicious gossip” could classify a person as having been sexually harassed. What, one might ask, do people mean by “malicious gossip” and how does it get translated to mean “sexual harassment?”

A Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) article on abuse of medical students considered “shouting at you” to be a form of verbal abuse, “prearranged time for teaching not followed up or canceled” a form of emotional abuse, and “use of sexist teaching material” a form of sexual abuse. The psychological effects of such abuse were said to be indicated by “diminished interest in or enthusiasm for courses or studies.”

I understand that, recently, the term “Covictimization” was coined to refer to the “victims” of second-hand knowledge of sexual harassment, an occurrence which is said to be high, especially among women. So now, just knowing, or hearing, about “sexual harassment is in itself a form of harassment” and a cause of psychological problems. Likely most if not all of you, given that you hear about such cases, could easily be diagnosed as suffering from this condition.

As you may know, there is a well known lawyer/feminist who has advocated charging construction workers who whistle at passers-by not merely with sexual harassment but with sexual assault. When someone wrote an unflattering review of her book, she claimed that the effect was that of rape: “He wanted me as a violated woman with my legs spread.” There may be unflattering reviews of my book, too, but I cringe to think that these reviews would turn me into a rape victim and the reviewer into a rapist.

Blurring the lines

This “slippery slope” logic is blurring the distinction between ordinary, everyday events, which many of us women are not only be able to cope with but might, on occasion, even enjoy, and brutal assaults, such as rape. And it is also blurring our understanding of legal concepts. How does one determine now when sexual harassment becomes sexual assault? I wonder sometimes whether, if the Justice system continues to be influenced by this definitional ooze, there will come a day when every issue you are dealing with now has become a criminal issue. For not only are we manufacturing victims; we are also manufacturing crimes, but that’s another topic and I’m running out of time.

So here I will end my rendition of what, at the beginning, I described as “a disturbing reality.” A prominent Toronto psychologist has dismissed my concerns, calling my book, Manufacturing Victims, “The Ripley’s Believe It Or Not of Psychology.” However, I doubt that these concerns can be so easily dismissed. The endnotes in my book, which number about 1,000, cite material which is neither obscure nor merely freaks of nature. And, once again, I will invite you to scrutinize my sources and, as I end, I will express my hope that you will:

1) Scrupulously investigate any sexual harassment report that lands on your desk, looking not only for corroborating evidence, but, also, for possible contamination by the Psychology Industry. This contamination can take place, not only directly in psychotherapy but indirectly through pop psychology books, self-help manuals, media reports, support groups, comments made by family or co-workers, and even information posted on the Internet. For anyone interested, I have recently had my attention drawn to a new set of guidelines, from the Minister of Justice in the Netherlands regarding investigation of sexual assault allegations following psychotherapy which, I think, could be adapted to fit the investigation of sexual harassment claims.

2) As much as possible, try to help people avoid becoming labeled as suffering from PTSD, Depression, Chronic Stress or “low self-esteem” and from getting themselves caught up in the “victim stereotype.” Do what you can to avoid, and to help others avoid, the notion promoted by the Psychology Industry that people who make reports of sexual harassment go through a particular series/sequence of reactions and the suggestions that they are likely to suffer specific psychological consequences.

3) Try to prevent your clients, including those who are real victims of sexual harassment, from being turned into patients. Whenever possible, resist the conversion of cash settlements into payments for counseling or therapy. Get the money directly to the victims of sexual harassment and not into the hands of the industry which profits from maintaining them as patients.

4) Do what you can to stop the Justice System from being turned into a bogus healing process and used as a cash cow for the Psychology Industry.

I will leave you with one final quote:

“One waits in vain for psychologists to state the limits of their knowledge.” – Noam Chomsky

I have been waiting a very long time and now I look to people outside my profession, and especially to lawyers, to set limits on the Psychology Industry.
06-25-2013, 12:13 PM,
RE: Consumer Behaviour
Quote:6 Weirdest Plastic Surgery Procedures for Men

June 20, 2013

Last week, it was reported that George Clooney incited his second aesthetic trend in as many decades. As Dr. Doug Ross on ER, at the height of primetime medical dramas of yore, Clooney’s hair was shorn in a neo-Caesar crew cut which had American men running to the nearest barber. The '90s were simpler times. Since making a joke in an Italian magazine last January about getting his testicles tightened, Clooney has influenced the latest trend in scrotum chic: ball ironing.

Ball ironing, or tackle-tightening, is a facelift for your stones. For $575 one can have the smooth, youthful ball sack of a millennial. But pristine family jewels is just one of the many vanity procedures on the rise for men. Last year nearly 800,000 fellas went under the knife, a 121 percent increase since 1997. The most popular surgeries for men are the same as for women: liposuction, eyelifts, hair transplants, rhinoplasty, and breast reduction (and in some cases augmentation). Here are some of the others:

1) Chinplants:
Something magical happened in 2011. The weak-chinned men of America decided they needed, nay DEMANDED, the chiseled jaw lines of a Disney prince. The year saw a 71% increase in the surgery, which entails inserting an implant (often silicone) in front of the chin. Subsequently, the human species is 10,600 defined male chins richer. What transpired to provoke men to rush to the local plastic surgeon, waving their checkbook and a photograph of Gaston LeGume? Clinical professor of surgery at Columbia University, Darrick Antell, told the Today Show,

People have cameras everywhere...You can be at a wedding at the buffet table and a moment later see pictures of your double chin on Facebook. We're a much more image-driven society than we were even five years ago.

Smartphone photo and video technology has turned our lives into a virtual house of mirrors. Antell also notes that the greatest number of men who’ve been chinplanted are over 40 “which is the point where people are bridging the gap between youthfulness and middle age.” He conducted a study of Fortune 500 companies which revealed 90% of the CEOs have “strong chins,” the facade of leadership and power being an impetus for men to alter their profile.

2) Limb-lengthening:
Height dysphoric Skee-lo could have fulfilled one of his many wishes with the incredibly painful and complicated procedure known as limb-lengthening. Conceived to assist sufferers of dwarfism and those with disparate leg length, limb-lengthening has been hijacked by cosmetic surgeons as a vanity procedure.

Stature is extended after a doctor implants telescoping rods in the patient’s broken shin. Over the course of three months, the rod stretches the bone apart one millimeter every day, wherein muscle, nerves,skin, new bone, and sometimes harmful bacteria grow to fill the newly created void. The procedure can’t turn you into Yao Ming, but can add 2-3 inches to your height, and one man paid for two procedures to grow 6 inches. The majority of guys who endure this process are reported to languish with height dysphoria, convinced their diminutive figure prevents them from getting the respect bestowed upon taller men.

3) Character Affectation Surgery: Have you felt like you’re really a velociraptor trapped inside a human body, or that maybe looking exactly like Wolverine will help you feel the quiet contentment that has always evaded you? Then allow these men to be your inspiration! Men like Lizardman, born a mere human but transformed by tattoos, tongue bifurcation, dental modification, and subdermal implants to become a reptilian-human hybrid. Or with enough facial transdermal implants and body modifications your inner feline could manifest and transfigure you like Cat Man. Or the Devil. One 35-year-old Filipino man has spent the last decade having his body manipulated and his skin lightened to look just like Superman, and another guy had 100 surgeries to resemble a sentient Ken doll. Want to surgically metamorphose into a stalk of broccoli, or a red panda, or Liberace? Godspeed!

4) Abdominal Etching: If sit-ups and cardio are biting into your precious leisure time but you need that summer beach body, consider abdominal etching. This procedure liposucks the fat covering your abs, slurping out what was once many six packs, and contouring the flab around the muscles to resemble...a single sixer. If you’re not already somewhat fit, you’re still going to look like someone airbrushed “abs” onto George Costanza.

5) Voice Lift: Men who feel embarrassed by speaking like Marge Simpson’s sisters or desire a castrato pitch, can opt for a voice lift. Another surgery once purely medicinal and now cosmetic, the “lift” occurs after inserting implants into the vocal chords, or injecting fat or collagen into the chords. Like the chinplant and limb-lengthing, one of the justifications for a voice lift is to mitigate feelings of perceived “weakness,” especially for aging businessmen. Which leaves us with the final member of this list...

6) Penis Enlargement: Perhaps you’re sick of having limp confidence before the mirrored urinal trough, or maybe you’ve been shamed by your spam folder, or you’ve found yourself staring longingly at David Beckham’s much ballyhooed package. There are plastic surgeons eager to assuage your phallic self-doubt. One of their methods snips the suspensory ligament, causing one’s flaccid trouser snake to extend from the body a few extracentimeters (but in some cases can actually shorten an erection when the ligament reattaches itself).

Another enlargement procedure removes a flap of skin from the abdomen and reattaches it to the base of the shaft to give the penis more prominence. Sounds simple enough, right? Except “most of these flaps cause unattractive hair-bearing tissue that covers the penis and causes pubic deformation.” Noooooo thank you. If you were feeling insecure enough about your boner to get a few centimeters of ab skin stitched to your pubis to hold it up, it seems doubtful you’ll be cool with it wearing a sweater.

Lastly, you can add girth to your skin flute by way of fat injections, at the risk of “penile lumps and nodules, and shaft deformities.” Gentlemen, I implore you. Just leave it alone.
08-10-2013, 10:36 PM, (This post was last modified: 08-10-2013, 11:04 PM by R.R.)
RE: Consumer Behaviour
Quote:Forget the Joneses: How Envy Drives Destructive Behavior

By Meredith Melnick @meredithcmOct. 22, 2010

Keeping up with the Joneses is a well-established aspect of the human condition: we want what our friends, neighbors and co-workers have, whether it’s a sports car, a high-powered job or cute new shoes. But a new study finds that depending on the nature of your envy — benign or malicious, that is — you’ll pay a premium to either imitate the Joneses or do them one better.

Researchers from Tilburg University in The Netherlands studied envy-triggered behavior by asking students what they would do in certain social contexts. So, for instance, the authors asked students to imagine that a peer had an iPhone (or an internship, or some other desirable thing) that they coveted. The participants were then asked to imagine feeling envious and admiring of the fellow student (benign), envious and begrudging (malicious), or simply covetous of the product itself.

The study results, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, showed a complex pattern of decisionmaking. Participants who felt benign envy said they were willing to pay about $110 more to have an iPhone, after coveting their friend’s device. But people who maliciously coveted the iPhone were more likely to pay a premium for a related but different gadget: the BlackBerry. The findings are explained in a statement by the journal:

“Note that two types of envy exist: benign and malicious envy,” the authors explain. “Benign envy exists if the advantage of the other person is deserved, and motivates people to attain a coveted good or position for themselves. This more motivating type of envy makes people pay an envy premium for the products that elicited their envy.” On the other hand, malicious envy occurs if the other person is thought to be undeserving; it evokes a desire to “pull down” the other person.

The study reveals that our impulse to judge the deservingness of others has more to do with how we view ourselves than with anything to do with our peers:

Envy is not the result of all upward comparisons to another person, but primarily from those with people that are superior in a domain that is important to oneself. Social comparisons are more likely to be made with people who are initially similar, and indeed the more similar another person is, the more intense the envy is expected to be if that person is better off.

Benign envy has a certain logic to it: you wish to be urbane and wealthy, so when you see a similar striver enjoying a new status object, you believe you deserve it as well and you are willing to pay a premium to get it. Meanwhile, malicious envy employs a very different system of thought: if someone you’ve deemed junior to you suddenly gets an object you want, you wish to prove your superiority by degrading their new possession. To do that, you’ll pay a premium for a competitive but slightly different item.

Benign envy, as its name suggests, isn’t necessarily destructive (except maybe on your bank account), but malicious envy does result in negative behavior. From the study:

Maliciously envious people feel frustrated and try to level the difference with the superior others by pulling those others down. Benignly envious people also feel frustrated, but they
try to level the difference by moving themselves up. It is important to note here that both types of envy are not associated with a motivation to be like the other, but rather they motivate behavior to solve the inequality by increasing one’s own (benign envy) or decreasing the other’s relative standing (malicious envy).

So the next time you find yourself jealously eyeing a friend’s new flat-screen TV or designer handbag, stop to consider what’s motivating those feelings. The price of keeping up can get pretty steep.

Quote:The envy premium in product evaluation

by Niels van de Ven

Consumers are willing to pay a premium for products that elicit their envy. The more people compared themselves to a superior other, the higher the envy premium was. Yet, the emotion envy and not the upward comparison drove the final effects. The envy premium only emerged for a desirable product that the superior other owned (iPhone) when people experienced benign envy. Benign envy is elicited when the other's superior position is deserved, and malicious envy when it is undeserved. When people experienced malicious envy, the envy premium emerged for a desirable product that the superior other did not own (BlackBerry). This shows how benign envy places a premium on keeping up, and malicious envy on moving away from, superior others.

Quote:Inconspicuous Consumption

Virginia Postrel Jul 1 2008, 12:00 PM ET

About seven years ago, University of Chicago economists Kerwin Kofi Charles and Erik Hurst were researching the “wealth gap” between black and white Americans when they noticed something striking. African Americans not only had less wealth than whites with similar incomes, they also had significantly more of their assets tied up in cars. The statistic fit a stereotype reinforced by countless bling-filled hip-hop videos: that African Americans spend a lot on cars, clothes, and jewelry—highly visible goods that tell the world the owner has money.

But do they really? And, if so, why?

The two economists, along with Nikolai Roussanov of the University of Pennsylvania, have now attacked those questions. What they found not only provides insight into the economic differences between racial groups, it challenges common assumptions about luxury. Conspicuous consumption, this research suggests, is not an unambiguous signal of personal affluence. It’s a sign of belonging to a relatively poor group. Visible luxury thus serves less to establish the owner’s positive status as affluent than to fend off the negative perception that the owner is poor. The richer a society or peer group, the less important visible spending becomes.

On race, the folk wisdom turns out to be true. An African American family with the same income, family size, and other demographics as a white family will spend about 25 percent more of its income on jewelry, cars, personal care, and apparel. For the average black family, making about $40,000 a year, that amounts to $1,900 more a year than for a comparable white family. To make up the difference, African Americans spend much less on education, health care, entertainment, and home furnishings. (The same is true of Latinos.)

Of course, different ethnic groups could simply have different tastes. Maybe blacks just enjoy jewelry more than whites do. Maybe they buy costlier clothes to deter slights from racist salesclerks. Maybe they spend more on cars for historical reasons, because of the freedom auto travel gave African Americans during the days of segregated trains and buses. Maybe they just aren’t that interested in private colleges or big-screen TVs. Or maybe not. Economists hate unfalsifiable tautologies about differing tastes. They want stories that could apply to anyone.

So the researchers went back to Thorstein Veblen, who coined the term conspicuous consumption. Writing in the much poorer world of 1899, Veblen argued that people spent lavishly on visible goods to prove that they were prosperous. “The motive is emulation—the stimulus of an invidious comparison which prompts us to outdo those with whom we are in the habit of classing ourselves,” he wrote. Along these lines, the economists hypothesized that visible consumption lets individuals show strangers they aren’t poor. Since strangers tend to lump people together by race, the lower your racial group’s income, the more valuable it is to demonstrate your personal buying power.

To test this idea, the economists compared the spending patterns of people of the same race in different states—say, blacks in Alabama versus blacks in Massachusetts, or whites in South Carolina versus whites in California. Sure enough, all else being equal (including one’s own income), an individual spent more of his income on visible goods as his racial group’s income went down. African Americans don’t necessarily have different tastes from whites. They’re just poorer, on average. In places where blacks in general have more money, individual black people feel less pressure to prove their wealth.

The same is true for whites. Controlling for differences in housing costs, an increase of $10,000 in the mean income for white households—about like going from South Carolina to California—leads to a 13 percent decrease in spending on visible goods. “Take a $100,000-a-year person in Alabama and a $100,000 person in Boston,” says Hurst. “The $100,000 person in Alabama does more visible consumption than the $100,000 person in Massachusetts.” That’s why a diamond-crusted Rolex screams “nouveau riche.” It signals that the owner came from a poor group and has something to prove.

So this research has implications beyond race. It ought to apply to any peer group perceived by strangers. It suggests why emerging economies like Russia and China, despite their low average incomes, are such hot luxury markets today—and why 20th-century Texas, a relatively poor state, provided so many eager customers for Neiman Marcus. Rich people in poor places want to show off their wealth. And their less affluent counterparts feel pressure to fake it, at least in public. Nobody wants the stigma of being thought poor. Veblen was right.

But he was also wrong. Or at least his theory is out of date. Given that the richer your group, the less flashy spending you’ll do, conspicuous consumption isn’t a universal phenomenon. It’s a development phase.
It declines as countries, regions, or distinct groups get richer. “Bling rules in emerging economies still eager to travel the status-through-product consumption road,” the market-research group Euromonitor recently noted, but luxury businesses “are becoming aware that bling isn’t enough for growing numbers of consumers in developed economies.” At some point, luxury becomes less a tool of public status competition and more a means to private pleasure.

In Veblen’s day, the less affluent scrimped on their homes in order to keep up appearances in public. “The domestic life of most classes is relatively shabby, as compared with the éclat of that overt portion of their life that is carried on before the eyes of observers,” Veblen wrote, noting that people therefore “habitually screen their private life from observation.” By contrast, consider David Brooks’s observation in Bobos in Paradise that, for today’s educated elites,

it’s virtuous to spend $25,000 on your bathroom, but it’s vulgar to spend $15,000 on a sound system and a wide-screen TV. It’s decadent to spend $10,000 on an outdoor Jacuzzi, but if you’re not spending twice that on an oversized slate shower stall, it’s a sign that you probably haven’t learned to appreciate the simple rhythms of life.

Virtuous or vulgar, what all these items have in common is that they’re invisible to strangers. Only your friends and family see them. Any status they confer applies only within the small group you invite to your home. And the snob appeal Brooks pokes fun at corresponds to the size of the audience. Many friends may see your Jacuzzi or media room, but unless you’re on HGTV, only intimates will tour your master bathroom. A slate shower stall may make you feel rich, but it won’t tell the world that you are. As peer groups get richer, the balance between private pleasure and publicly visible consumption shifts.

Russ Alan Prince and Lewis Schiff describe a similar pattern in their book, The Middle-Class Millionaire, which analyzes the spending habits of the 8.4million American households whose wealth is self-made and whose net worth, including their home equity, is between $1 million and $10 million. Aside from a penchant for fancy cars, these millionaires devote their luxury dollars mostly to goods and services outsiders can’t see: concierge health care, home renovations, all sorts of personal coaches, and expensive family vacations. They focus less on impressing strangers and more on family- and self-improvement. Even when they invest in traditional luxuries like second homes, jets, or yachts, they prefer fractional ownership. “They’re looking for ownership to be converted into a relationship rather than an asset they have to take care of,” says Schiff. Their primary luxuries are time and attention.

The shift away from conspicuous consumption—from goods to services and experiences—can also make luxury more exclusive. Anyone with $6,000 can buy a limited-edition Bottega Veneta bag, an elaborately beaded Roberto Cavalli minidress, or a Cartier watch. Or, for the same sum, you can register for the TED conference. That $6,000 ticket entitles you to spend four days in California hearing short talks by brainy innovators, famous (Frank Gehry, Amy Tan, Brian Greene) and not-so-known. You get to mingle with smart, curious people, all of whom have $6,000 to spare. But to go to TED, you need more than cash. The conference directors have to deem you interesting enough to merit one of the 1,450 spots. It’s the intellectual equivalent of a velvet rope.

As for goods, forget showing off. “If you want to live like a billionaire, buy a $12,000 bed,” says a financial-planner friend of mine. You can’t park a mattress in your driveway, but it will last for decades and you can enjoy it every night.
08-11-2013, 04:45 AM, (This post was last modified: 08-11-2013, 05:03 AM by R.R.)
RE: Consumer Behaviour
Quote:Want to Show off Your Wealth and Status? Buy a Hybrid!

Going green to be seen.

Published on February 15, 2010 by Douglas T. Kenrick, Ph.D.

What can you do if you want to engage in conspicuous consumption right alongside Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ed Begley Jr., Woody Harrelson, David Duchovny, Jackson Browne, Bill Maher, Patricia Arquette, Rob Reiner, and Seinfeld director Larry David? a hybrid car?

You might not think of a compact little automobile with a small trunk and a frugal gas-sipping engine as the ultimate act of conspicuous consumption. Wouldn't it show off your status more effectively to buy a gas-guzzling Porsche or a big expensive SUV? Not according to research by Vladas Griskevicius, Josh Tybur, and Bram Van den Bergh.

In 3 experiments to appear in next month's issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, titled "Going Green to Be Seen," Griskevicius and his colleagues explored the evolutionary psychology of status and environmentalism.

In their first experiment, the researchers asked participants to imagine they were out shopping for a car, a household cleaner, and a dishwasher. For each of the three products, people were asked to choose between the more luxurious nongreen option and an equivalently priced, but less high-performing, green option. For example, they chose between two versions of the Honda Accord, both costing $30,000 - one was a hybrid with less luxury, power, and comfort, the other was a high performance feature-rich EX-L model with a sporty V6 engine.

Before making their choice, some of the subjects had been primed to think about status by imagining they'd just arrived for their first day at a high-powered job, where they'd been immediately impressed by the upscale lobby and well-appointed offices. When they meet their new boss, he introduces them to two other new employees. He informs them that there was a lot of competition for this job, and that in a year, one of them would move up into a fancy office, but one of them would likely be out looking for a new job. In the control conditions, participants either read no story or imagined they'd been searching their house for a lost concert ticket, which they found just before they had to leave.

The results (shown in Figure 1) were that thinking about status led people to be more eager to purchase environmentally friendly products. Why? The authors explained the results in terms of a combination of ideas from "costly signaling theory" and "competitive altruism." Costly signaling theory posits that people (and other organisms—such as peacocks and mockingbirds) often show off by displaying their ability to waste energy and resources. Competitive altruism theory is a related idea—that conspicuous displays of altruism often function to build reputations, which makes people more desirable as group members.

In support of the idea that green consumption can be a form of signaling, a second study found that people thinking about status do not purchase green products when no one else is going to know about it. When purchasing light bulbs over the internet, for example, they selfishly choose the better features of the nongreen option; when other people will know about their decisions, they go green.

A third study resolved another interesting dilemma. Earlier research by Ed Sadalla and Jennifer Krull had suggested that people sometimes assume that conservation behaviors (such as recycling or taking public transportation) signal a lack of resources. The Sadalla & Krull research was conducted 15 years ago, before it was quite so cool to be seen as green, but Griskevicius and his colleagues used those findings to uncover another fascinating aspect of going green to be seen. Their last study demonstrated that people thinking about status did not prefer a green product if it was less expensive. That is, status motives led people to make a rather economically irrational decision, at least from a superficial perspective. When people are thinking about status, they in fact want to spend more—to demonstrate not only that they are environmentally conscious, but also that they can afford to be environmentally conscious.

That last finding might explain two economically unexpected events in recent years. When tax credits for Prius expired in late 2006, economic experts expected to see sales tank. But they did not, in fact they went up a whopping 79%. And it might also explain another event that bewildered the experts: When Lexus introduced a new sedan that cost over $100,000, it seemed somewhat irrational to power it with a penny-pinching hybrid engine. Yet Lexus was unable to keep up with the demand for the conspicuously environmental Lexus LS600h, which exceeded sales projections by 300%.

So, if you want to keep up with the DiCaprios and Diazes, buy a hybrid car, but don't park it in your garage, park it conspicuously in front of your house (where ideally it will reflect light from the fancy solar panel shining from the front and center of your roof).

Quote:Green to be seen-some consumers only going green to impress others, reports Mintel

CHICAGO, April 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- No matter how you are (or aren't) celebrating Earth Day on Monday, it's likely that Americans are at least thinking about the health of the environment and considering ways they can be more responsible. However, new Mintel research on green consumer habits suggests that they might be motivated to go green to improve their image, as roughly one in five (19%) survey respondents say they believe it's important for others to perceive them as being "green."

Moreover, among those who feel it's important to be perceived as green, 24% admit to having purchased a green product just to show others that they are environmentally conscious (vs. a 9% average), and 20% admit to having concealed recyclable trash in with their regular garbage so that others can't tell they didn't separate their recycling (vs. an 8% average).

Fiona O'Donnell, lifestyles and leisure analyst at Mintel says:

"Clearly, avoiding a potential negative perception from others drives at least some green behaviors. On one hand, the green movement benefits from the social pressures that many consumers feel to go green. On the other hand, because some consumers are acting in an environmentally friendly manner to avoid a negative stigma—and not truly out of concern for the environment—once the social pressure is removed, green behaviors are less likely to stick."

Mintel's research also found that 14% of 18-24-year-olds switched to a more environmentally-friendly product because of a post by a friend on a social networking site. Meanwhile, 12% of that same age group admitted to "liking" a company on Facebook, following them on Twitter or pinning them to their Pinterest board because of their green practices.

"Facebook users aged 18-34 have been measured as having an average of more than 300 friends, which means that the range of influence that green company advocates may have on their social circles can have a far-reaching effect on consumers' perception of a company or brand," concludes Fiona O'Donnell.

The above article was interesting due to the links between Facebook use and narcissism.

Quote:Shoppers go green 'to impress neighbours not to save planet', study finds

By Lucy Cockcroft

7:30AM GMT 17 Mar 2010

While consumers are more likely to "go green" on the high street where they can be seen making altruistic choices, the privacy of online shopping brings out an entirely different behaviour.

When people are not being watched by their peers they are more willing to shun the ethical products in favour of comfort and convenience, the report says.

The habit has been studied by Vladas Griskevicius, of the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, who found eco-friendly shopping decisions are not always motivated by a social conscious.

He discovered that people were more likely to buy energy efficient light bulbs from the shops, but tended to opt for the old-fashioned type online.

The same trend was also found when people purchased white goods, electronics and even domestic cleaning products over the internet.

"Many green purchases are rooted in the evolutionary idea of competitive altruism, the notion that people compete for status by trying to appear more altruistic," he said.

In the paper "Going Green to Be Seen: Status, Reputation, and Conspicuous Conservation", published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the authors found that people would only forego luxury when others could see it.

Mr Griskevicius picks out the Toyota Prius car as a prime example. Celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz have been photographed behind the wheel of a Prius, despite being well able to afford a more powerful and expensive car, sending the message that they are concerned for the environment.

"A reputation for being a caring individual gives you status and prestige. When you publicly display your environmentally friendly nature, you send the signal that you care," said the report.

The study also showed that people were often more willing to buy green products when they were the most expensive option, because it showed they could afford to be caring.

An example is paying for canvas tote bags to take to the supermarket, rather than relying on the free but environmentally dubious plastic variety.

"People want to be seen as being altruistic. Nothing communicates that better than by buying green products that often cost more and are of lower quality but benefit the environment for everyone," Mr Griskevicius said.

* The green choice: high street vs online

While shoppers are more likely to buy environmentally friendly products on the high street where they can be seen to make the selfless choice, but behind closed doors it is a different matter.

Groceries – In the supermarket shoppers may be drawn to organic vegetables that are grown without chemical pesticides and are considered better for the environment. However, doing an online shop the cheaper option may seem more attractive.

Nappies – Some mothers feel under pressure to buy cloth nappies for their babies rather than contribute to landfill sites with the disposable kind. However, over the internet they may be tempted to stick with convenience.

Televisions – When buying televisions online shoppers tend to opt for the best bargain. However, when faced with energy efficiency labels in store, they may be persuaded to go for the greener option.

Here's some good old altruistic narcissism.

Quote:Green idealists fail to make grade, says study

David Adam, environment correspondent

The Guardian, Wednesday 24 September 2008

People who believe they have the greenest lifestyles can be seen as some of the main culprits behind global warming, says a team of researchers, who claim that many ideas about sustainable living are a myth.

According to the researchers, people who regularly recycle rubbish and save energy at home are also the most likely to take frequent long-haul flights abroad. The carbon emissions from such flights can swamp the green savings made at home, the researchers claim.

Stewart Barr, of Exeter University, who led the research, said: "Green living is largely something of a myth. There is this middle class environmentalism where being green is part of the desired image. But another part of the desired image is to fly off skiing twice a year. And the carbon savings they make by not driving their kids to school will be obliterated by the pollution from their flights."

Some people even said they deserved such flights as a reward for their green efforts, he added.

Only a very small number of citizens matched their eco-friendly behaviour at home by refusing to fly abroad, Barr told a climate change conference at Exeter University yesterday.

The research team questioned 200 people on their environmental attitudes and split them into three groups, based on a commitment to green living.

They found the longest and the most frequent flights were taken by those who were most aware of environmental issues, including the threat posed by climate change.

Questioned on their heavy use of flying, one respondent said: "I recycle 100% of what I can, there's not one piece of paper goes in my bin, so that makes me feel less guilty about flying as much as I do."

Barr said "green" lifestyles at home and frequent flying were linked to income, with wealthier people more likely to be engaged in both activities.

He said: "The findings indicate that even those people who appear to be very committed to environmental action find it difficult to transfer these behaviours into more problematic contexts."

The team says the research is one of the first attempts to analyse how green intentions alter depending on context. It says the results reveal the scale of the challenge faced by policymakers who are trying to alter public behaviour to help tackle global warming.

The study concludes: "The notion that we can treat what we do in the home differently from what we do on holiday denies the existence of clearly related and complex lifestyle choices and practices. Yet even a focus on lifestyle groups who may be most likely to change their views will require both time and political will. The addiction to cheap flights and holidays will be very difficult to break."

The frequent flyers said they expected new technology to make aviation greener, echoing comments made by Tony Blair last year, who said it was "impractical" to expect people to take holidays closer to home. He said the solution was "to look at how you make air travel more energy-efficient, how you develop the new fuels that will allow us to burn less energy and emit less."
12-30-2013, 09:37 AM,
RE: Consumer Behaviour

07-29-2014, 01:18 AM, (This post was last modified: 07-29-2014, 01:36 AM by R.R.)
RE: Consumer Behaviour
Quote:How going green may make you mean

Kate Connolly in Berlin

The Guardian, Monday 15 March 2010 19.42 GMT

When Al Gore was caught running up huge energy bills at home at the same time as lecturing on the need to save electricity, it turns out that he was only reverting to "green" type.

According to a study, when people feel they have been morally virtuous by saving the planet through their purchases of organic baby food, for example, it leads to the "licensing [of] selfish and morally questionable behaviour", otherwise known as "moral balancing" or "compensatory ethics".

Do Green Products Make Us Better People is published in the latest edition of the journal Psychological Science. Its authors, Canadian psychologists Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong, argue that people who wear what they call the "halo of green consumerism" are less likely to be kind to others, and more likely to cheat and steal. "Virtuous acts can license subsequent asocial and unethical behaviours," they write. [See footnote].

The pair found that those in their study who bought green products appeared less willing to share with others a set amount of money than those who bought conventional products. When the green consumers were given the chance to boost their money by cheating on a computer game and then given the opportunity to lie about it – in other words, steal – they did, while the conventional consumers did not. Later, in an honour system in which participants were asked to take money from an envelope to pay themselves their spoils, the greens were six times more likely to steal than the conventionals.

Mazar and Zhong said their study showed that just as exposure to pictures of exclusive restaurants can improve table manners but may not lead to an overall improvement in behaviour, "green products do not necessarily make for better people". They added that one motivation for carrying out the study was that, despite the "stream of research focusing on identifying the 'green consumer'", there was a lack of understanding into "how green consumption fits into people's global sense of responsibility and morality and [how it] affects behaviours outside the consumption domain".

The pair said their findings surprised them, having thought that just as "exposure to the Apple logo increased creativity", according to a recent study, "given that green products are manifestations of high ethical standards and humanitarian considerations, mere exposure" to them would "activate norms of social responsibility and ethical conduct".

Dieter Frey, a social psychologist at the University of Munich, said the findings fitted patterns of human behaviour. "At the moment in which you have proven your credentials in a particular area, you tend to allow yourself to stray elsewhere," he said.

• This footnote was added on 31 March 2010: The study findings above, and the methods used, are challenged by researchers associated with the social psychology department at the London School of Economics, the Institute of Ecological Economy Research in Berlin, and the Institute for Perspective Technological Studies in Seville. Their analysis can be found here:

Quote:When Good Deeds Cause Bad Behavior: Are You a Moral Cheater?

By Ashik Siddique | Mar 7, 2013 08:27 PM EDT

Good deeds don't always lead to more good behavior - a person's ethical mindset can determine how "good" or "bad" they are to others, and how prone they are to cheating.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but previous psychological research has been inconclusive about how a person's previous acts affect their current good or bad behavior. The main strands of thinking are split between the concepts of moral balancing or behavioral consistency.

Moral balancing suggests that everyone has a "moral setpoint," and subconsciously keeps count of their good and bad deeds in an effort to stay close to that moral setpoint - doing enough good deeds allows people to feel that they can cheat and behave a little badly, while doing too many bad deeds means they owe a moral debt to behave better.

Behavioral consistency suggests merely that engaging in an ethical or unethical act reinforces more of the same good or bad behavior.

A Spanish research team found that a person's ethical mindset determines which moral behavior path they follow.

People with an "ends justify the means" mindset are more likely to balance their good deeds and bad deeds, while people who believe in a fundamental difference between right and wrong are more likely to be consistent in their behavior, even if it is bad behavior.

The study, led by Gert Cornelissen of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain, was published in the journal Psychological Science last week.

Cornelissen's team explored the difference between the two ethical mindsets in three studies, which all found that a person's likelihood of cheating was heavily influenced by their dominant ethical mindset, as well as their past behavior.

People with an outcome-based mindset were more inclined to engage in "bad" behavior after remembering their good deeds. After recalling recent ethical behavior, they were more likely to withhold coins from partners when given a pot of money to divide. They were also more likely to be cheating when asked to self-report the number of test questions they answered correctly.

People with a rule-based mindset, however, were more consistent in the morality of their behavior. After recalling previous good behavior, they gave more coins to their partner and were less likely to be cheating.

The study's integration of ethical mindsets and moral behavior can help psychologists reconcile the different strands of research on good and bad deeds.

Cornelissen and his colleagues believe that their research involves a basic psychological mechanism that can help understand people's bad behavior when they are pitted against others in everyday situations - as students, consumers, bosses, employees, family members, or neighbors. It can also help explain why some people are consistently unethical, and shed light on cheating.

"In the current studies, we showed that a rule-based mindset can lead to a consistent pattern of unethical behavior, in which violating a rule becomes the norm. Such a pattern resembles the slippery slope of moral decision making," they wrote.

They believe that more research can help figure out how this mechanism works, and how people in everyday situations can be encouraged to do good deeds instead of going down the self-reinforcing path of bad behavior and cheating others.

Quote:Consumer Phrase of the Day: ‘Licensing Effect’

By Brad Tuttle @bradrtuttleNov. 29, 2010

While you may have never heard of this expression, it explains why, during the season focused on gift giving, you’re probably going to selfishly get something for yourself in the course of holiday shopping excursions.

A BusinessWeek story explains the concept, in which consumers enter into a frenzied dog-chasing-tail circle of generous-selfish behavior, by feeling like they personally deserve an indulgent reward each time they unselfishly purchase a gift for someone else:

Psychologists call this the licensing effect. In essence, the idea is that doing something that feels virtuous (like buying someone else a present) makes us feel unconsciously entitled to do something self-indulgent (like buy ourselves a present, which can then make us feel that we need to do something virtuous again, like buy someone else a present). As the holidays draw closer, the process can feed on itself in a steady loop of spending.

By this reasoning, one of the most selfish things you can do is unselfishly buy a gift for someone else—thereby justifying a little something for yourself. Retailers don’t really care whether you’re motivated by selfishness or the spirit of giving, so long as you’re spending in as steady and expensive a loop as possible.

Quote:Wholesome Foods and Wholesome Morals? Organic Foods Reduce Prosocial Behavior and Harshen Moral Judgments

Kendall J. Eskine

Department of Psychological Sciences, Loyola University New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, USA


Recent research has revealed that specific tastes can influence moral processing, with sweet tastes inducing prosocial behavior and disgusting tastes harshening moral judgments. Do similar effects apply to different food types (comfort foods, organic foods, etc.)? Although organic foods are often marketed with moral terms (e.g., Honest Tea, Purity Life, and Smart Balance), no research to date has investigated the extent to which exposure to organic foods influences moral judgments or behavior. After viewing a few organic foods, comfort foods, or control foods, participants who were exposed to organic foods volunteered significantly less time to help a needy stranger, and they judged moral transgressions significantly harsher than those who viewed nonorganic foods. These results suggest that exposure to organic foods may lead people to affirm their moral identities, which attenuates their desire to be altruistic.

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