The world of big business marketing is full of these types, these self-important “creative” (reach for your revolver when you hear that word) hipsters who think the sun shines out their portholes, even as they shovel new coals into the maw of the world-destroying juggernaut that is corporate capitalism.
This particular one here is Sam Gosling, the newest member of the team at Mindset Media. Mindset is a new arm of the renowned commercial spy agency, The Nielsen Company. Nielsen, of course, has a long history of helping corporate sales engineers use demographic, behavioral, and psychographic data to create “lucrative customer relationships.”
Among Professor Gosling’s publicly-sponsored research endeavors is work in “animal personality.”
As I explained in The Consumer Trap book, big business marketers not only view their targets as means to an end (as “consumers” of their firms’ wares), but as so many Pavlovian beasts.
To corporate planners, we product users are much more manipulable and profitable when we are in the cognitive modes we share with frogs, dogs, chickens, and other sub-human species.
The great fear of big business marketers is that we might become humanly (and perhaps even humanely) conscious of the links between our life-environments, our natural proclivities, and our behaviors. We might see their hand on the lever, in other words. Hence, much of big business marketing comprises an effort to keep us down amongst the squirrels and fishes and lemmings in our triune brains.
So, along comes Dr. Gosling. What can he add to the ever-expanding art and science of for-profit behavior engineering?
Animal models are useful because they permit experimental studies of personality that would not be possible in humans. The first stage of our research program is to appraise the viability of assessing personality in non-human animals. The second stage is to develop appropriate assessment methods. The third stage is to implement the findings of Stages 1 and 2 to address questions in personality, social, and health psychology.
Golly, he forgot to mention commercial questions, didn’t he?
On the face of it, this kind of research sounds oh so amusing, and maybe even liberating. But, really, despite the kudos from the major purveyors of pseudo-sociology, what democratic or life-enhancing purpose could this stuff possibly serve? Who would ever care about gaining super-precise understandings of how humans share psychological reactions with the less-conscious animals? The one obvious answer is: our overclass of market-totalitarian behavioral dictators.
So, is our ebullient, supposedly life- and animal-loving scientist troubled by this (often unmentioned) implication?
‘Personality science has a big role to play in ad targeting, and Mindset Media is at the forefront of the field, forging links between science and practical applications in real-world marketing contexts’ said Gosling. ‘Their approach is truly unique, and I believe it will soon have a big impact on how companies identify their audiences precisely and reach them efficiently.’
I don’t know about you, but the animal in me says “Grrrrr!” to that.