How Media Messages Influence Our Behavior

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 How Media Messages Influence Our Behavior

The barrage of messages that enter our minds through TV ads, billboard advertising, and other places make their way into our thought processes and eventually influence actions we take. Malcolm Gladwell, author of BLINK: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, believes that most of our decision making comes from an “other than conscious” level. He says that we make unconscious associations that influence our decisions which then influence our behavior. These associations are opinions we’ve developed based on the things we’ve seen or heard in the past. According to Gladwell, people make connections between ideas in their heads based on information that’s already there and not as much from new information. The unconscious mind works from all the experiences a person has had and these experiences can also come in the form of books, movies, people, lessons from school, TV, etc. It’s the unconscious within us that helps form our opinions. The “homeless pet” message is no different. The animal welfare industry, although meaning very well, has sent out the messages of “homeless,” “abandoned,” “dumped,” and “feral.” People who have heard messages that millions of “homeless” animals are “abandoned” and “dumped” every year can jump to the conclusion that the lost dog they find was purposely dumped and is homeless rather than giving thought to the possibility that it could be a lost pet. Someone who believes that a dog was dumped is more likely to adopt it themselves instead of trying to find its owner. It’s true that some dogs are indeed abandoned. However, most are not! Think about it…in order for most of the loose dogs out there to be unwanted there would be, statistically, bunches of people lining up every day just to dump all of these dogs! In reality, many people contact animal shelters daily to report that their dog is missing. The number of loose dogs that end up in pounds, rescue organizations, or that are adopted by their “finders” are much less compared with the number of people who abandon them.