Why didn’t we have the revolution that Karl Marx predicted? Because Marx didn’t predict the effects technological advances have had on society. Modern medicine means we have had unprecedented population growth. Modern communications means businesses can be run globally. Mass media and advertising have had huge effects on societies consumption patterns.
Rachel Bowlby (1993) examines the psychology behind the process of consumption. She looks at sales and marketing manuals from the 1890s and the development of advertising psychology and the development of Freudian psychology in the 20th century. She compares Freud’s approach to psychology as being similar to the gain and loss scenario of ‘making up’ a term used in sales manuals from the 1920s onwards.
Bowlby describes the four basic stages of a sale as
4. Sale (Action)
She describes the point at which a customer decides to buy a product as “The point at which both control over actions and mental conflict – a tension between ideas – are eliminated. “ Bowlby states that this moment is similar to the moment of recognition that occurs during analysis because it involves intuition and is a turning point.
Bowlby argues that the psychological practices of consumption make it a sophisticated process and therefore not something to be devalued or not considered. How much psychological influence have television shows and commercials had on human beings consumption habits? What kind of a play/drama are you performing every time you enter a store? Is your decision to purchase experienced as a magical moment?
Bowlby, Rachel, (1993) Make up your mind: scenes from the psychology of shopping and selling, In, Shopping with Freud (pp.94-119). Routledge. ISBN 0-415060079