Eco-angst, it turns out, is but one version of a widely studied psychological phenomenon, one well-known in the world of retailing. Take a bargain bin cabernet, tell people it’s an expensive, estate-bottled varietal, and they’ll tell you they like it. They’ll even linger longer over their dinner, enjoying not just the wine but the rest of their food more. Now describe the same wine as a low-end variety from North Dakota, and they’ll tell you it’s not so good — and finish their meal faster, enjoying it less.
...What’s more, brain imaging now reveals that tasting what we think is a high-end wine produces heightened activity in a key strip of neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex, which lights up during moments of keen interest — a pattern some neuroeconomists see as the brain signature for brand preference. The “low-end” wine, on the other hand elicits not a budge in orbitofrontal chatter, a pattern indicating disinterest or disgust. (Study data can b found here.)
...Eco-angst dawns with the discovery that some children’s sunblock contains a chemical that becomes a carcinogen when exposed to the sun, or that the company that makes a popular organic yogurt operates in ways that result in significantly more greenhouse gases than their competitors. The moral here, or course, is not to stop using sunblock nor to give up yogurt, but to choose the brands without these downsides.
...Rather than taking the ascetic route of “No Impact Man,” we can together become high impact shoppers, tipping market share to products with gentler ecological imprints. But to do so we need to face the often unattractive truths behind the making of our favorite stuff, and so risk a stiff dose of disgust.
Monday, September 28, 2009
The Age of Eco-Angst - Happy Days Blog - NYTimes.com
The Age of Eco-Angst - Happy Days Blog - NYTimes.com: