Preferences for Psychological Enhancements: The Reluctance to Enhance Fundamental Traits

47 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2007

See all articles by Jason Riis

Jason Riis

New York University - Stern School of Business

Joseph P. Simmons

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Geoffrey P. Goodwin

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology

Date Written: August 30, 2007

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Riis, Jason and Simmons, Joseph P. and Goodwin, Geoffrey P., Preferences for Psychological Enhancements: The Reluctance to Enhance Fundamental Traits (August 30, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=967676 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.967676

Jason Riis (Contact Author)

New York University - Stern School of Business ( email )

40 W. 4th Street, Suite 809
New York, NY 10012
United States
212-998-0727 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~jriis/

Joseph P. Simmons

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3733 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6374
United States

Geoffrey P. Goodwin

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology ( email )

3815 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6196
United States
215-746-3579 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.psych.upenn.edu/people/ggoodwin

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