the unconscious consumer

Have you ever heard any friends complaining about their kids not following their instructions and tending to do the opposite?

I guess my parents are one of them, until now. I remember when I was younger, there were umpteen times I wanted to do something on my own and a second after my parents told me to do exactly that, I ended up not carrying it out. Or there were times my parents advised me to do or not to do certain things, I went with the opposite. Those are things that are as ordinary as sweeping the floor, once I just grabbed the broom and my Mom said: sweep the floor and I put the broom down; to things that are as life-shaping as picking courses for college; my parents wanted me to do business-related courses, I went all in for computing.

And I thought it was only me being stubborn.

Perhaps I am really that stubborn. Or I’m just having the ‘unconscious consumer‘ behaviour? Check out the presentation by Prof. Gavan Fitzsimons as he speaks about The unconscious consumer here.

Two things:

  1. He mentions he himself has the tendency of not following what his wife wants him to do. It hits me BINGO! So he pointed out that there are folks when being told what to do by their loved ones, we do the exact opposite, sometimes way out of our consciousness. It’s the psychological reaction to backlash against what we are told to do when our freedom to do something is constrained by an ‘instruction’. A lot of us don’t like to be told what to do in certain spaces and as we are exposed to a number of those messages, for some of us, we build up a resistance to those messages to actually do the opposite.
    • I can totally relate to this. In fact I think it happens every time with whatever initiative I pick up. Initially I would be super motivated to execute it as I know there can be only 2 results. a: If I do it well, I get credits, b: If I don’t do it well, I learn. And I’m the only one responsible for the outcomes. But when I’m already half-way on it and I’m told to do exactly what i’m doing, instantly it’s not my initiative anymore, it becomes a task or a chore that associates with an enforced responsibility that I have to do it and my motivation is overshadowed by responsibility.
    • As this ‘unconscious consumer’ behaviour happens for a number of times, without any awareness, I have developed a defense mechanism of backing from requests/instructions from certain names or on certain areas that i have already registered in my mind. Eg: my mom doesn’t want me to do wakeboarding as she thinks it’s dangerous for girls and she was traumatized by the sight of people fall into the water when they do cable ski. But to me, it’s like it’s a sport and it’s water sport, how much can it hurt? (The silly me thinks that water would have more mercy than ground). Although i’m all ears for the reasons she gave and i somehow agree to those, every time she mentions hey, don’t go wakeboarding again okay? (sometimes just randomly she mentions it to ensure that I’m reminded), I have a sudden urge of going out for it immediately. *facepalm #maybeiamnotgrownupyet.
  2. “For creativity, intelligence or just any of desirable aspirational goal you might have. Surround yourself with consumer goods that strongly associate with that and activate that in your mind and it can lead you to be a successful strategic user of brands, products etc rather than letting you have brands, products etc change you are, who you are and the way you behave in a certain random way. So think strategically and surround yourself with objects, brands and products that are gonna make you a strategic unconscious consumer.”
    • Now this is gonna be personal but I would see myself a consumer of daily information, knowledge, work, relationships, my emotion and others’ emotions, my agenda and others’ agendas etc and etc. What kind of unconscious consumer I am now? What kind of strategic unconscious consumer I would like to be? How to be that strategic unconscious consumer? And finally what and who i should surround myself with?
    • Talking about ‘random behaviour’, I’m think i’m quite a random-er. So does this mean that I’m being consumed non-strategically by random things that I’m exposed to?


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