Against Automaticity

According to the author, tricks like priming, nudge, the placebo effect, social contagion, and most “cognitive biases” are not real. The author explains that advertising does not work by creating Pavlovian associations between products and positive emotions, but rather by creating cultural messages that consumers can expect to send when they purchase certain products. They argue that phenomena like priming and ego depletion, which popular media and official science attribute to automatic processes, may actually be better explained by rational processes. The author also questions the existence and significance of the placebo effect, claiming that placebo effects compared to no treatment are small and studies claiming large placebo effects should be approached with skepticism.

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