In 2006, three psychologists made a startling discovery. Just being in the presence of money, or even visual cues that remind us of money, makes people more selfish and unwilling to co-operate. Even though such behaviour offered participants no actual financial gain, the connotations of capitalism and its attendant self-interest was enough to significantly alter their short-term attitudes and behaviour.
Other studies have shown similar patterns. A team at Duke University found that exposure to the Apple brand caused people to exhibit more creativity in a task than participants shown logos less closely associated with creativity. Chen-Bo Zhong and Katie Liljenquist explored the way in which the metaphorical concept of cleansing our sins to absolve ourselves can be triggered with visual cues, finding that participants were drawn towards physical cleansing products after experiencing a sense of moral shame and felt diminished guilt or obligation to others after undergoing a physical cleanse.
Merely referencing an ideology, a pattern of behaviour or an accepted metaphor embedded in language can have an astonishing effect on preferences and behaviours. And sexual language is no exception. Continue reading →