Fast food use a series of cues and rewards to influence the behaviour of their customers
Every McDonald’s, for instance, looks the same—the company deliberately tries to standardize stores’ architecture and what employees say to customers, so everything is a consistent cue to trigger eating routines. The foods at some chains are specifically engineered to deliver immediate rewards —the fries, for instance, are designed to begin disintegrating the moment they hit your tongue, in order to deliver a hit of salt and grease as fast as possible, causing your pleasure centers to light up and your brain to lock in the pattern. All the better for tightening the habit loop.
When I design online ads for American Apparel, I almost always look for an angle that will provoke. Outrage, self-righteousness, and titillation all work equally well. Naturally, the sexy ones are probably those you remember most, but the formula worked for all types of images. Photos of kids dressed up like adults, dogs wearing clothes, ad copy that didn’t make any sense—all high-valence, viral images. If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites.
This cult of "intelligence" centers on the idea that human cleverness is the supreme value . . . [but] all around us, we can see people trying to solve by logical argument or by the acquiring of information, problems that can only be dealt with by a change of heart—a change of attitude and new policy and direction. But this is the last thing we try . . . in contemporary culture, the passionate, quasi-religious exaltation of our pure cognitive faculties is surely a defense mechanism against this awkward fact.
Some new products and ideas slip into the well-worn grooves of people's expectations. In fifteen out of the last sixteen ...