Like the universe-old debate of the chicken and the egg, similar one concerns free will. Elon Musk seems to think we may be living in a Matrix-like simulation and free will is an illusion. The other school of thought claims that humans are the masters of their own destiny.
In the same manner we tend to think about the movies (and media in general). Some of us think that we have free will and movies, articles and ads can’t persuade us to do anything if we do not so desire. Others think that we are being manipulated every day.
What about you? Where do you stand in this?
Where it all begins?
The most essential question is, can people change? And the answer is yes.
The answer comes from one study that asked participants to write an essay for the side they disagreed with. After, they returned in 7 days and wrote another essay.
The study proved that people, basically by putting themselves into other people’s shoes, can change even long-held beliefs.
Most studies about the media’s impact on us has focused on teenagers and suggest that prolonged exposure to certain ideas or products can have a tremendous impact. However, as you may know, human brain is considered in-development until 22-23 years old. So, it is debatable whether the impact of the TV is significant due to brain being not fully developed or is the impact the same to viewers of all ages?
Unfortunately, this question is a little harder to answer as there is a lack of these studies involving adults.
Movies Change Us?
Just like the study we described, movies, being visual, are able to show us the other side of the story even better. However, boosting our sense of empathy doesn’t automatically mean we will change the way we behave. Luckily, because that would also mean that after watching Rambo, fans would go on vigilante-type killing sprees.
But it is enough to raise interest spontaneous decisions.
Let’s say you are watching Casino Royale having never played poker at a casino. Suddenly, an ad for poker comes on and say that you can visit here for info on poker and classic games. It seems that there is enough evidence to claim that you could be persuaded on the spot. As opposed to being exposed to the add several times.
There is a great book titles The Age of Persuasion– How Marketing Ate Our Culture by Terry O’Reilly, Mike Tennant that talks extensively about the topic.
The truth is, you cannot escape it. We like to think that we are independent and free, but do you really think Coca Cola’s ads are cost $4 billion even though they do not have an affect on us? The only way is to limit your exposure to advertising. Get ad-free apps, exchange TV to Netflix – the more control you have over what you watch, the better.