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Q. 3: The passage given below is followed by four alternate summaries. Choose the option that best captures the essence of the passage.
Vance Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders alerted the public to the psychoanalytical techniques used by the advertising industry. Its premise was that advertising agencies were using depth interviews to identify hidden consumer motivations, which were then used to entice consumers to buy goods. Critics and reporters often wrongly assumed that Packard was writing mainly about subliminal advertising. Packard never mentioned the word subliminal, however, and devoted very little space to discussions of “subthreshold” effects. Instead, his views largely aligned with the notion that individuals do not always have access to their conscious thoughts and can be persuaded by supraliminal messages without their knowledge.
1. Packard held that advertising as a ‘hidden persuasion’ builds on peoples’ conscious thoughts and awareness, by understanding the hidden motivations of consumers and works at the subliminal level.
2. Packard argued that advertising as a ‘hidden persuasion’ works at the supraliminal level, wherein the people targeted are aware of being persuaded, after understanding the hidden motivations of consumers and works.
3. Packard argued that advertising as a ‘hidden persuasion’ understands the hidden motivations of consumers and works at the subliminal level, on the subconscious level of the awareness of the people targeted.
4. Packard held that advertising as a ‘hidden persuasion’ understands the hidden motivations of consumers and works at the supraliminal level, though the people targeted have no awareness of being persuaded.
3. What does the passage state? Vance Packard’s argument is clear. Advertising agencies use supraliminal messages, which individuals are not conscious of, to entice them to buy goods. Furthermore, individuals have no knowledge or awareness that supraliminal messages are being used to entice them.
Now let us examine each option:
Option 1 clearly contradicts Packard’s assertion by stating that advertising or the ‘hidden persuasion’ builds on peoples’ conscious thoughts and awareness. The passage clearly states that advertisers use supraliminal messages which people are not conscious of. Secondly, option 1 states that advertising works at the subliminal level. Packard was clear that the hidden persuasion works at the supraliminal level. Therefore, option 1 can be eliminated.
Option 2 is incorrect. While it is true that Packard was of the opinion that advertising works at the supraliminal level, option 2 states that people targeted are aware they are being persuaded. Actually, they are not aware that they are being persuaded. Therefore, option 2 can also be eliminated.
Option 3 is also incorrect as the option states that advertising works at the subliminal level while Packard was of the view that it works at the supraliminal level. Therefore, option 3 can also be eliminated.
Option 4 summarises the passage correctly and succinctly by stating the crux of the passage. Advertising understands the hidden motivations of consumers and works at the supraliminal level in which the consumers have no idea that they are being persuaded.
Hence, the correct answer is option 4.