Posts Tagged ‘consumer psychology’

Psychology is a science … or is it?

July 26, 2012

Gotta be honest, I didn’t know there was a burning question re: whether or not psychology qualifies as a science.

But, there’s been a flurry of editorials and op-eds over the past couple of weeks, set off by a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, who expressed resentment in an L.A. Times Op-Ed over the fact that most scientists don’t consider psychology a real science. He cast scientists as condescending bullies.

“There has long been snobbery in the sciences, with the ‘hard’ ones (physics, chemistry, biology) considering themselves to be more legitimate than the ‘soft’ ones (psychology, sociology).”

In a follow-up piece, also in the L.A. Times, it’s argued:

Psychology often does not meet the five basic requirements for a field to be considered scientifically rigorous:

  1. clearly defined terminology,
  2. quantifiability,
  3. highly controlled experimental conditions,
  4. reproducibility and,
  5. predictability and testability.

The failure to meet the first two requirements of scientific rigor (clear terminology and quantifiability) makes it almost impossible for most psychology research to meet the other three.

How can an experiment be consistently reproducible or provide any useful predictions if the basic terms are vague and unquantifiable?

Making useful predictions is a vital part of the scientific process, but psychology has a dismal record in this regard.

To be fair, psychology research often yields interesting and important insights.

But to claim it is “science” is inaccurate.


Makes “marketing science” sound a bit oxymoronic.

Not good news for us marketers.

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Black Friday … it’s all psychological.

November 25, 2011

Punch line: According to the Washington Post, “far from being mass synchronized temporary insanity, the Black Friday ritual has distinct psychological underpinnings.”

1) The crowds (and scarcity) make us happy

When crowds create a sense of competition — such as when hundreds of shoppers are rushing to collect marked-down goods — they generate a different feeling … called hedonic shopping value, or a sense of enjoyment from the mere process of buying goods.

Consumers enjoy something that’s harder to get, and it makes them feel playful and excited.”

create a promotional strategy that has a high value for a limited time.”

2) We love the hunt

Black Friday is “hunting for women” … it hinge on long-standing traditions and involve pursuing a goal as a group. Whether the group actually hits its target is secondary to the fun of the chase.

The process is akin to a marathon, in that a long-distance runner is energized by the grueling trek in much the same way a Black Friday shopper thrives on long lines and frenzied grabs at cashmere sweaters.

Shoppers love to swap stories and show off their prizes at the end of the day.

“It’s ‘mission accomplished … You brag about your great deal, or about how you got the last one.”

3) It’s about togetherness

Black Friday shopping combines elements of both traditional shopping and holiday rituals.

Shoppers planned extensively for Black Friday — as they would for a holiday meal — and relish the day in part because it allows them to spend time with close friends and family.

“Sharing the shopping ritual with family members and indoctrinating children helps to ensure that the ritual is continued in the next generation.”

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