The stuff with which we work is the fabric of men’s minds.
—Vance Packard, The Hidden Persuaders
More than half a century ago, American journalist Vance Packard shocked consumers by revealing the extent to which they were being manipulated for commercial gain. In his bestselling exposé The Hidden Persuaders, he revealed “the dark side of advertising,” warning: “Large-scale efforts are being made, often with impressive success, to channel our unthinking habits, our purchasing decisions, and our thought processes. Typically these efforts take place beneath our level of awareness; so that the appeals which move us are often, in a sense, ‘hidden.’”1
That was in 1957. Since then, scientists have learned more about the workings of the ...