(Insincere) Flattery Works

Flattery–even exag­ger­ated, insin­cere and obvi­ous flattery–works. That’s the con­clu­sion from a study look­ing at wheth­er com­pli­ments ini­tially dis­missed as “mean­ing­less flat­tery” in advert­ising copy work on an implicit, uncon­scious level. They do.

What this research sug­gests […] is that the impli­cit pos­it­iv­ity we exper­i­ence as a res­ult of view­ing [pos­it­ive advert­ising] images could play an import­ant role in what we reach for when stand­ing in the liquor store star­ing at a freez­er full of cheap beer. You may not know why, but you’d feel pretty good about a Bud right now. And while you feel cer­tain to you that your pref­er­ence is not due to those silly ads (just like it might seem obvi­ous to a man­ager that they did­n’t pro­mote a can­did­ate because he brings her donuts every morn­ing), per­haps it is the cer­tainty with which we dis­miss these kinds of manip­u­lat­ive and decept­ive appeals that allows them to hold such sway.