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Unpublished Paper
The Emotion of Disgust, Demand Augmentation, and Wasteful Consumption
ExpressO (2012)
  • Nathan H. Ostrander, Harvard Law School
Conventional economic theory assumes that producers supply goods and services in a responsive, reactive way to innate, genuine, unmanipulated consumer demand. Evidence increasingly suggests, however, that demand is constructed based on the elements present in any given situation, and that the situation is subject to corporate influence. One method by which corporations construct demand is by using the emotion of disgust to create an apparent problem in an advertisement. Corporations reference the emotion of disgust not only because it is incredibly powerful, but also because advertisements are able to quickly alleviate the disgusting problem and thereby increase consumer receptivity to the advertised product. These advertisements exert undue influence over consumers, but more importantly, lead to wasteful consumption that damages the environment in a manner discordant with price. Consistent with the constitutional requirements of the First Amendment commercial speech doctrine, a ban on these advertisements will prevent the environmental degradation that results from this form of demand augmentation. While at certain points in history, it may have been ludicrous to be concerned about wasteful consumption, times have changed. Global climate change will force a restructuring of our economic system to explicitly take into account environmental sustainability and resource conservation by reducing consumption.
  • environmental law,
  • climate change,
  • corporate behavior,
  • consumer behavior,
  • disgust
Publication Date
February 8, 2012
Citation Information
Nathan H. Ostrander. "The Emotion of Disgust, Demand Augmentation, and Wasteful Consumption" ExpressO (2012)
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