Is it ever ok for someone to have their behavior modified with out their knowledge or consent?
Many organizations these days are using applied behavioral science to predict and to influence people's behavior. Such behavior change often takes place without the person's knowledge or consent. Advertisers do this and so do businesses through modern performance management systems at work. Are these behavioral influence/modification practices acceptable or ethical? If so, why? If not, why not?
Your question is what my book, "Eyes Wide Shut: An Enigma" address. Who decides what the right thing is? Who decides who benefits? What behaviors are the "right thing?"
Our behaviors are modified 24/7. advertising is one of the elements. Our environment modifies our behaviors. Our culture modifies our behaviors.
Toxoplasm Gondii modifies our behaviors. Most of us in the world are infected with this parasite. There is no cure. It changes our cultures of entire nations. Brazil has over 95% T. gondii infection rate. One of the behavior changes is that infected men are strongly attracted to infecte females. Almost 100% of motorcycles riders are infected with Toxo. Toxo changes behaviors to risk-seeking behaviors.
Car accident vitims are 2.5 times more infected with Toxo...
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I think society in general is built around modifying or moulding peoples' behaviour without their knowledge or consent. We see it in politics, in business, in advertising. Everywhere really. Even with families to an extent. Of course the science of it is more confined to politics and advertising where the general public are intentionally manipulated sometimes to extreme extents. Otherwise sedate people can approach a state of deliirium when general elections comes around for instance. It's a tried and tested path. They know what to say and when to get people onside.
I can't really comment on whether or not it's ethical, because it's so commonplace. We are manipulated to such extents that we'd almost be lost without it.
I've chosen not to read the other answers so far provided, so I'm not influenced. What follows is my laymans opinion. Firstly, I think its a great question.
I think since the dawn of advertising, it has always been the case that the vendor has been trying to influence the sale of their particular product. I guess this seems rather obvious. Throughout the decades and centuries, this objective has never changed.
What has changed is that technology and social sciences, have matured and combined to provide a more sophisticated way of influencing. The greatest difference in the abilty, being that large corporations can now reach a world audience, thus exerting a greater focus on their product than would have been possible even only a few decades ago.
It is increasingly difficult to not be influenced by advertising and target marketing, but while capitalism dictates, which it does for much of the world, this type of marketing will always be acceptable, regardless of its ethics.
This said, I understand that in Holland (the Netherlands), government restricts advertising of toys and childrens things on television, at the very time that most children would be watching it! This responsible, governmental control over such things is an ethically sound approach in my opinion.
On a personal note, I think I think it is unethical to degrees, but then, providing the advertising is honest about the product it represents then I guess I can cope. Equally, can a trust that honesty will be the case. The cynic in me says 'no', not always!
Wow, such a thought provoking question. Thanks for making me think.
I love capitalism, but when are we going to far with it? For me, I think the line has already been crossed. Too many people suffer from weight and health problems as your picture points out. Not to mention financial problems.
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