Can you think of a time where you were ever in a situation where you felt that a salesperson had sketchy intentions? Being a woman, I have dealt with this a few times when it comes to cars, for example. I also recently experienced this with a pushy realtor when I bought my first home three years ago. Perhaps they were trying to convince you to make a purchase you didn’t actually need. In the case with the realtor, I had a fairly low budget for my home, and he was trying to convince me to purchase a home that was falling apart because it fit into my budget Expecting these sales people to try and trick or manipulate us is called the schemer’s schema, and it’s an actual psychological term.
The schemer’s schema is our mental representation of people who try to take advantage of us, and how we expect them to act and behave, according to an article by Everyday Psych. If you are considering making a purchase and it seems that the salesperson is trying to butter you up and get on your good side, you may be skeptical. What do they actually want from you? Are they just complimenting you because they want to make a commission off of you? Our schemer’s schema expects salespeople to behave this way and really try to go the extra mile by flattering us in order to make a sale. Our schemer’s schema tells us to take the flattery with a grain of salt and try to determine what the catch is.
Marketing research shows that when consumers are content with a product or service, they will be more inclined to purchase the product or use the service. This means that if marketers could manipulate a consumer into thinking that they have had a good experience with a product or service, the consumer would be more likely to buy it. Believe it or not, this manipulative marketing tactic has been tested and tried. Everyday Psych also mentions a case study where researchers had participants look at two separate fake Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn ads. One advertisement was fairly standard while the other was visually engaging and asked participants to imagine that they were eating the popcorn, even though they never actually had. When the participants were brought back to the lab and asked if they had ever tried or bought this fake popcorn, 39% of the participants in the low imagery study reported that they had while 76% of participants in the high imagery study reported that they had!
This means that when the marketers got these participants to try and visualize their experience, they actually believed that they had tasted it, even though they never had. Crazy concept, isn’t it? Schemer’s schema is a good thing and it’s important for a consumer to always be aware and keep it active. Sometimes people or advertisements can make you feel wary as a consumer. However, being aware of why you are doing things and why you respond to things the way you do is important for remembering what was an actual experience and what was not. On the other hand, these are helpful psychological tactics for companies who want to try to influence consumers into making purchases and could probably be used more than it actually is.