Why Do Women Smoke? A Surprising Answer

The real question: If you knew what people wanted or believed, could you persuade them to do whatever you wanted? That answer lies with Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays.

Bernays was a master at manipulating the masses, and changed the way products were presented in sales to the public. In reference to Freud’s Theory, Bernays wanted to know the primary force behind what drove people to purchase products. He found that there was a connection between Freud’s theory on the internal subconscious needs we have as human beings, and the experience of wanting an object instead of needing it. In the first experience Bernays had with the Propaganda rally, he created an emotional tie to living peacefully by accepting that we are being governed by a small number of persons who reside in our government.

After the rally was over, Bernays decided to try and implicate his theory behind manipulating masses for something other than things relating to war. Bernays then decided to manipulate the masses for situations related to peace. His first obstacle was establishing a new name for this positive method and to replace the existing negative term “Propaganda,” which was already associated with the War. He renamed “Propaganda” to something more suitable to the public, which was “Public Relations In doing so, Bernays found that labeling something with a different name inspires new aspects on the actual product.

Bernays first project was to enhance the tobacco industry’s profits by making women who smoke socially acceptable. By tying cigarettes with the emotional patriotism of freedom, Bernays inspired a wave of reformation and was slowly training women to need cigarettes in order to uphold a sense of freedom. In this way, he concluded that irrelevant objects can be the targets of emotion and image.

So is it true? If you knew what people wanted or believed, could you persuade them to do whatever you wanted? Does our innate yearning control us?
While giving an answer based solely on the history of the question, it seems that it is truly possible to manipulate your audience to need something they used to only want. This type of behavior is still active today in most marketing strategies.  Stores for example, will rearrange their products layout so you have to search through different products, and will possibly be swayed to buy one of them.  So, it seems that since this method is still active within our society today, it can be and has been done.

Trevor Smith

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