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The power of seduction

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 15 September 2012

This week on the Forum, why do we dream of a better life, aspire to more material comforts or look to another country for happiness, are we being rational or has our judgement been seduced?

Robert Heath, a former advertising strategist, reveals how adverts seduce us and influence our feelings without our knowing it. Nigerian writer Chinelo Okparanta on why the dream of a life in America exerts such a strong pull on so many Nigerians and results so often in disappointment. And Indian novelist and political commentator Pankaj Mishra on how the West has forced the East under its spell since colonial times and how the East is still reacting to the West's dominance to this day.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: The hidden lure of people, places and ideas.


4 items
  • Robert Heath

    Robert Heath

    Robert Heath is a senior lecturer in advertising at Bath School of Management in England, and a former advertising executive who worked for some of world’s top brands. He argues that nowadays adverts are no longer about providing information but work more subtly through emotional meta-communication to increase our positive feelings towards the brand, and because we’re not aware of this, these feelings endure a very long time.

    Heath: Seducing the Subconscious: The Psychology of Emotional Influence in Advertising
  • Chinelo Okparanta

    Chinelo Okparanta

    Chinelo Okparanta is a young Nigerian writer who came to live in the United States when she was ten years old. Chinelo discusses her most recent story America, about a young woman in Nigeria who dreams of going to live in the United States, but then is caught in a conflict between wishing to escape to America and staying put to help sort out the problems in her homeland.

    Okparanta: America
  • Pankaj Mishra

    Pankaj Mishra

    Pankaj Mishra is an award winning novelist, and writer of literary and political essays. He’s travelled the world writing on a wide range of topics, including globalization, Bollywood, the Dalai Lama, often with particular reference to the confrontation between East and West. His latest book From the Ruins of Empire: The revolt against the West and The remaking of Asia explores the intellectual, moral and spiritual conquest of Asia by Europe in colonial times and how Asia fought back against this seemingly near-magical power.

    Mishra: From the Ruins of Empire
  • Sixty Second Idea to Change the World

    In our Sixty Second Idea to Improve the World, Chinelo Okparanta suggests that the leaders of the developing and developed world should trade places for a year. She believes this would help both sides avoid the temptation of using power to make themselves or their countries richer and also give them a sense of the bigger picture; how different people live and how other democracies work.

  • In Next Week’s Programme

    Isolation: a new novel by ML Stedman set on a remote Australian lighthouse asks how our sense of morality is affected when you live in isolation; plus deep-sea biologist Chuck Fisher on the interaction between the remote communities that inhabit hydrothermal vents and the rest of the oceans, and conductor Alexander Liebreich on why isolation might sometimes be good for musicians.


Free downloads

  1. Image for Forum - A World of Ideas

    Forum - A World of Ideas

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  2. Image for Forum - Sixty Second Idea to Improve the World

    Forum - Sixty Second Idea to Improve the World

    An imaginative, quirky solution to a challenge of our age. Podcast weekly on Saturdays.

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