Ignorance is Bliss

From Newswise:

In what they term the Blissful Ignorance Effect, researchers at the university’s Tippie College of Business found that people who have only a little information about a product are happier with that product than people who have more information.

“We found that once people commit to buying or consuming something, there’s a kind of wishful thinking that happens and they want to like what they’ve bought,” said assistant professor of marketing Dhananjay Nayakankuppam. “The less you know about a product, the easier it is to engage in wishful thinking. But the more information you have, the harder it is to kid yourself. This can be contrasted with what happens before taking any action when people are trying to be accurate and would prefer getting more information to less.”

This is the sort of finding that initially sounds surprising, but upon reflection makes perfect sense. One of the several motivations of consumerism is wish fulfillment. What information does is help reveal the truth that will dispel what ever rationalizations we’ve made in our mind that allows us to engage in bad purchases. This is the primary reason that many product promoters seek to confuse or obscure information.

Many aspects of the food industry seems to know this instinctively. Whether its the various meat companies who do little in the way of allowing the public to have access to production methods, to the cereals that indicate how “heart smart” they are while ignoring the amount sugar used in production, they know that it’s not their best interest to be fully forthcoming.

Want more examples? How about a cookie company becoming a force to be reckoned with in the diet industry?

Micheal Ruhlman alluded to this in a recent post. From his blog:

Snackwells, for instance. Who’s the clever executive who came up with that name? Want a healthy snack? Try buying … Snackwells! Are Americans stupid enough to buy that? You bet!

Just about every box and bag on the grocery store shelves has some kind of “low fat” version, sometimes even if the real version doesn’t require fat in the first place. On a recent flight, I was handed a Quaker Oats Granola Bar—granola, it’s good for you, and it’s low fat. Granola doesn’t need much fat, if any, in the first place; but it does need sugar and you can bet that’s the reason my Quaker Oats “low fat” granola bar was every bit as sweet and chewy as a Milky Way bar.

For at least two generations now we’ve relied on Big Business to treat us right and put faith in the idea that they had our best interests in mind. Because of this, we collectively have become ignorant to the ways of food and food production. But this has to change. Ignorance may be bliss in the short term, but in the long term it’s disastrous.