Preferences for Psychological Enhancements: The Reluctance to Enhance Fundamental Traits
47 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2007
Date Written: August 30, 2007
Four studies examined young healthy individuals' willingness to take drugs intended to enhance various social, emotional, and cognitive abilities. We found that people were much more reluctant to enhance traits believed to be highly fundamental to the self (e.g., social comfort) than traits considered less fundamental (e.g., concentration ability). Moral acceptability of a trait enhancement strongly predicted people's desire to legalize those enhancements, but not their willingness to take those enhancements. Ad taglines that framed enhancements as enabling rather than enhancing the fundamental self increased people's interest in a fundamental enhancement, and eliminated the preference for non-fundamental over fundamental enhancements.
Keywords: advertising, bioethics, drugs, essentialism, framing, personality, self-concept, self-verification
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