Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Why Do So Many People Fall For Celebrity Advice on Health?

Published on May 12, 2016 by   ·   No Comments


The human mind is built for simplicity. Add the simplicity of a message with an attractive messenger and you have human programming 101. The amount of self-appointed insta-health gurus touting medications, toxic supplements and fad diets is at an all-time high and people fall for it every time. But why?

This is what psychologists call the illusion of truth effect, a type ofcognitive fluency which arises at least partly because familiarity breeds liking. As we are exposed to a message again and again from attractive messengers or those of status, it becomes more familiar. Because of the way our minds work, what is familiar is also true. Familiar things require less effort to process and that feeling of ease unconsciously signals truth.

Because science is full of uncertainty, its strength – an innate desire to doubt, to challenge and to confront beliefs – is often its greatest weakness when it comes to engaging the public.

As every politician knows, there’s not much difference between actual truth and the illusion of truth. Since illusions are often easier to produce, why bother with the truth?

The exact opposite is also true. If something is hard to think about then people tend to believe it less. Naturally this is very bad news for people trying to persuade others of complicated ideas in what is a very complicated world.

A combination of likeability, photogenic appeal, a clear simple message and certainty in your beliefs is a powerful combination. In the wrong hands it has the potential to do harm.

Pharmaceutical companies are constantly looking for ways to get a leg up on the competition, and using celebrities is a popular tactic.

Celebrities Promote Anything They’re Paid To Promote Regardless of Merit

“Brand-name pharmaceutical companies use celebrity endorsements because they hope such endorsements will cause patients to blindly pressure their doctor to prescribe the companies’ products, regardless of the merits of using those drugs,” Dr. Michael Carome, the director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, told Drugwatch.

Advertisers developed increasingly sophisticated advertising strategies during the 20th century, but the tactics used by drug companies lagged behind other industries for decades.

From Dorothy Hamill promoting killer drug Vioxx, to Mary Lou Retton touting dangerous Biomet hip replacements. Then there were countless endorsements by famous athletes such as Chris Bosh, Arnold Palmer and Brian Vickers to promote Bayer’s Xarelto drug which inevitably was found to cause fatal side effects. It’s unclear whether Palmer, Vickers or Bosh know they’re advocating for a drug that faces thousands of lawsuits from people who claim they or a loved one suffered uncontrollable bleeding after taking it.

Read More HERE

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