Why We Listen to What "They" Say

by Douglas Rushkoff (1999)

Although Rushkoff is politically naive, he is extremely well-informed and insightful with respect to the behavior-modification techniques used in advertising, mall design, sales techniques, mass events, and the like.  His recurring theme is that our good intentions are cynically used to manipulate us: "Sales techniques exploit our social-survival skills.  Whether inducing a psychoanalytic-style regression or just tickling our egos, the methods sales people use to increase our spending capitalize on essentially healthy human behaviors."  (p. 55)

As with Edward Bernays, Rushkoff understands that our actions are strongly influenced and even dictated by others: "All too often, the decisions we make as individuals and as a society are directed by people who may not have our best interests at heart.  To influence us, they disable our capacity to make reasoned judgments and appeal to deeper, perhaps unresolved, and certainly unrelated issues."  (p. 17)