False Advertising Questions and Answers

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How does deception in advertising affect people attitudinally?

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False advertising, or deception in advertising is defined by law as

"Any advertising or promotion that misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities or geographic origin of goods, services or commercial activities" (Lanham ACT, 15 U.S.C.A. § 1125(a)).

Three specific false advertising behaviors are generally considered:

  • Failure to inform, which according to Lanham consists on "untrue as a result of the failure to disclose a material fact."
  • Lack of research behind a claim, or research which is flawed or irrelevant.
  • Disparangement, which means discrediting the competitor's service or product in favor of your own.

This being said, the Jungian definition of attitude refers to the "readiness" to respond to given circumstances and information.

The implication of this definition is that false advertising provokes the potential customer to act upon information, or react towards something that is erroneous, misleading, or deceiving. This is a highly unethical practice because it manipulates the good faith of the consumer through the use of lies or misinformation. Since considerable amounts of money are possibly at stake, then obtaining the earnings of consumers through false advertisement is no different than stealing money using sophisticated means.

Therefore, the way in which advertising affects the attitude of the people is by provoking emotions, such as hope, faith, and a positive (but elliptical) correlation to something positive. As a result, the customer becomes either attached or dependent on something that was purchased under the premises that were set in the advertisement. Since these premises are false in the case of false advertising, then the customer is literally being fooled by the promises and claims that false marketing has created.

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