Researchers from the University of Hawaii and University of Florida have published a new paper in Marketing Magazine Who argues that a biological account of human behavior, especially undesirable behavior, will benefit human well-being. This biological perspective can complement traditional psychological, anthropological and economic perspectives on consumption, particularly regarding the vital topic of self-control.
The study, to be issued in Marketing Magazine, Titled “Consumer Autonomy and Biological Sciences: Implications for Stakeholders in Marketing” is authored by Yanmei Zheng and Joe Alba.
Society’s understanding of human diseases is constantly evolving. Many imprudent consumer behaviors are traditionally viewed through a non-biological lens, while ignoring the biological reasons behind these behaviors. This research takes into account two biological fields that have produced tsunami findings in very recent years: neuroscience and genetics. A review of the biological literature shows that many unwanted consumer behaviors are biologically rooted in brain and genetics. These biological insights have important implications for public policy, marketing practices, and consumer well-being.
However, the researchers argue that biological insights will not directly translate into improved well-being if those ideas fail to make an impression on multiple marketing stakeholders. They further argue that the road to welfare-promoting policies will be a bumpy ride if the general public resists the effects of biology. They sought to understand ordinary people’s current beliefs about biological causation and to gauge how these beliefs could be formed through findings from the biological sciences.
To do so, researchers conducted 10 studies to examine general beliefs about biological causation – and to interact with it. Zheng explains, “In general, we find a great deal of resistance to biological causation, partly due to training in belief in mind-body dualism. Moreover, studies show that acceptance of biology as a causal explanation of human behavior varies as a function of depicting biological causation, the nature of behavior, “The amount of actor deliberations, and individual differences of the external observer. On an optimistic note, studies also indicate that acceptance of biological causation can be influenced by marketing grant and marketing practices.”
Biological causation has multiple implications. First, if biological causation becomes widely accepted by the general public, then policymakers’ efforts to regulate specific products and protect specific consumers will gain more public support. Moreover, policies focusing on prevention (for example, investing in high-quality childhood education, social and family support programs, etc.) will gain more momentum. Second, biological causation may lead to more public scrutiny for some companies (for example, unhealthy foods and weight-loss programs) and changing business models for others (such as the healthcare and insurance industries). Biological causation may also open new opportunities for companies providing care services and self-promoting offerings. Third, biological causation will enhance consumers’ self-understanding, which could translate into improved well-being; It will also enhance the understanding of others, which can translate into greater compassion and mutual respect.
“We believe that the biological account of human behavior can benefit human well-being. In addition, we believe that marketing can play an important role in facilitating public understanding and acceptance of biological causes. A correct understanding of the biological foundations of behavior should reduce moral rebuke and enhance empathy,” says Alba. Those who exhibit poor self-control and other “failures” – including depression, lack of isolation, social confusion, marital infidelity, and even a lack of empathy – and for which biological and psychological causes are mistakenly separated. With an increased understanding of biological causation, courtesy should also be given. Mutual understanding and community welfare. “
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