I just got some cold pressed vegetable drink. It is supposed to be healthy, but it also tastes awful. It is expensive too, near US$6 a 16 oz bottle, so it could have problems selling. Then I notice on the side of bottle, there are large words:


It appears it is selling ego again, as many things I see. Something that can make you be excessively assertive, something that can make you self-righteous, something that can feed your ego.

Is there any study of such a model of a world which is like that, and what effects it may lead to?

  • 2
    Take a look at advertising psychology. You might find more there than in philosophy. May 9 at 9:48
  • It is pretty easy to sell to egos, because all the features are built right in. You could look in to Nonduality for more info about why this is and what can be done about it. But the interest level is low.
    – Scott Rowe
    May 9 at 10:02
  • La Société de consommation Jean Baudrillard - i think that is it. fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/… May 9 at 12:15
  • «Si la société de consommation ne produit plus de mythe, c’est qu’elle est elle-même son propre mythe. À un Diable qui apportait l’Or et la Richesse (au prix de l’âme) s’est substituée l’Abondance pure et simple. Et au pacte avec le Diable le contrat d’Abondance. » - you sold your ergo for having goods, that is your contract with Diable. Sold ergo calls ego. May 9 at 12:18

2 Answers 2


There are various ways to frame the issue of ego appeal in marketing. One noteworthy model comes from sociology and is called symbolic interactionism. The basic idea is that individuals within society operate at least partly in an intersubjective mental model of shared meaning, otherwise known as social reality. According to sociologist Herbert Blumer (1969), per Wikipedia:

  1. Humans act toward things on the basis of the meanings they ascribe to those things.
  2. The meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with others and the society.
  3. The meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretive process used by the person in dealing with the things he/she encounters.

Psychologically, the interpretive process of premise 3 presumably includes both the formation of personal narratives and the activation of valenced schemas. More specifically, the activation of behavioural scripts may serve to induce role suction. This allows the recipient to acquire and perform a socially desired role, which for the topic of the question may imply consumption of the product.

The topic of how these exploits may influence individual and societal health and wellbeing may, as well, be considered from various perspectives. If the goal is maximising short- and medium-term economy or GDP, then perhaps egoic manipulation of the consumer is desirable. Yet by making life into a competition -- beyond what were perhaps natural for the material environment -- individuals are pushed to higher levels of stress and fear. This result tends to promote psychological suffering and short-term planning while demoting empathy and compassion. The carrot of consumerism has a big ego, which it seeks to install wherever possible.


I'm no expert in the psychology of identity. But I did read a fascinating book that discussed consumer identity:

Consumer research has extensively examined how interactions with products help consumers to shape their identities and selves. Product design, for instance, can elicit infatuation in object–consumer relations. Consumers may become attached and develop relationships to specific material objects, independently of these objects' brands.

This sort of rhetorical appeal was pioneered in the US by Edward Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud:

Edward Louis Bernays... was an American theorist, considered a pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, and referred to in his obituary as "the father of public relations". His best-known campaigns include a 1929 effort to promote female smoking by branding cigarettes as feminist "Torches of Freedom", and his work for the United Fruit Company in the 1950s, connected with the CIA-orchestrated overthrow of the democratically elected Guatemalan government in 1954. He worked for dozens of major American corporations including Procter & Gamble and General Electric, and for government agencies, politicians, and nonprofit organizations.

Identity psychology is an important subdiscipline of psychology:

The psychology of self and identity is a subfield of psychology. As the name implies, it deals with topics pertaining to both self and identity. Key areas of investigation include self-concept, self-esteem, and self-control.

And is of key interest to philosophers of mind since it begs the question, what exactly are the self, ego, self-esteem, etc.

So, the questions you put forth are of interest to philosophers of mind, philosophers of psychology, psychologists, rhetoricians, marketing personnel, and those who study propaganda.

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