Healthy people and enhancement drugs

Aug 22, 2008

Healthy people are more willing to take drugs to enhance traits that are not fundamental to their identity. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, people's willingness to take a pill or drug depends on whether the trait the drug promises to enhance is one they consider fundamental.

Authors Jason Riis (NYU, Harvard Business School), Joseph P. Simmons (Yale University), and Geoffrey P. Goodwin (Princeton University) examine the moral dilemmas that arise as technologies develop that not only cure disease but also enhance already-healthy people. As many young people without diagnosed disorders or deficits take Ritalin or Adderall to improve concentration or anti-depressants to lift their moods, this study examines what makes healthy people willing to take pills.

The researchers determined that people do not feel comfortable using a pill to enhance a trait they believe to be fundamental to their identity. But less-fundamental traits, including concentration, are more acceptable targets.

"We suggest that people's willingness to take psychological enhancements will largely depend on beliefs about whether those enhancements will alter characteristics considered fundamental to self-identity," the authors write.

During a series of studies, the researchers found that young people were less likely to agree to take a drug to increase their social comfort than one that increased their ability to concentrate. The most common reason participants said they wouldn't want to take a pill was because it would "fundamentally change who I am."

Not surprisingly, the marketing message affected participants' responses. When the researchers tested different advertising taglines, they found that participants responded more positively to a drug promising to help them become "more than who you are," than one that would allow them to become "who you are."

"Together, this research converges to highlight the importance of identity expression and preservation in governing the choices and lives of consumers," write the authors.

Source: University of Chicago Press Journals

Explore further: ICU fatalities linked to after-hours discharge

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

An easier way to manipulate malaria genes

Aug 11, 2014

Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria, has proven notoriously resistant to scientists' efforts to study its genetics. It can take up to a year to determine the function of a single gene, ...

Double standard? The use of performance-enhancing products

Jun 25, 2014

When professional athletes are found to be using performance-enhancing drugs, many people consider this an unfair advantage and say they are cheating. But when another person uses the same drug to overcome a disease or behavioral ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0