Today's Obsession: Liking What We're Sold

From Wired via the PopMatters Marginal Utility blog, here’s an interesting look at brand faith and affection. In an experiment to discern the difference in brain reaction between Mexican and American Coke formulae, it was shown that nobody could tell much of a difference.

The Mexican formula is perceived to be a bit sweeter, and is widely sought by Mexican-descended residents in metro areas around the U.S., so it has a bit of a mythology of “the old country” tied to it. The appeal is almost entirely nostalgic.

Interestingly, nearly everyone responded more positively to a cola they were told was Coke. No matter what it was, if it was labeled Coke, it was favored.

This experiment was done as part of research into wine tasting, which suggested that people find more expensive wines to taste better. The big takeaway from this is that our sense of what we like is much more malleable than what we’d like to believe. We think of our opinions, our likes and dislikes, as core parts of who we are, and indeed they are—but that sense of self is a fragile thing governed by many more external values than we’d like to believe true.

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