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The sensory adaptation in callousness

At times we are surprised at our callousness. Other times we wonder how others can be that way. Especially when everything around seems to be screaming out for care and empathy. Take the aftermath of the bomb blasts in Delhi. Relatives of the dead and injured ran pillar to post to get information. Some even had to pay money so they could a buy a cloth to cover the dead at morgues.

Imagine that. How callous of the hospital authorities to disrespect the unfortunate and the dead! How dare they leave the bodies bare, and then demand money for a piece of cloth to be used as covering!

Morbid as it is, there's an explanation to why we and others turn callous. Its called sensory adaptation. What can shock doesn't because our senses adapt. Our senses adapt when our sensory thresholds go up. And those thresholds travel north if there's consistent repetition and reinforcement of stimuli. The hospital authorities turned a blind eye on the dead because being dead and lying around wasn't new to them. They had seen it one too many times, and so it failed to shock.

Sensory adaptation is the marketer's worst enemy. Consumers fail to respond to marketer overtures simply because they've adapted to everything the marketer proposes as stimuli. The ads don't work, the promos don't lure simply because of this. The only way to break out of this adaptation rut is by presenting the consumer with stimuli that's unique and irresistible.

As for the hospital authorities, I'd say a good thump is in order.


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