The Conglomerate Which Smiles Back (Until You Bite Its Head Off)
December 6, 2008 9:53 PM   Subscribe

Why are our kids so sad? Positive psychology (previously) and our friends at Pepperidge Farm thinks its all a matter of fishful thinking.

Can positive psychology give our children better virtues? Is it just teaching them inauthentic self-esteem? Or does it just sell crackers? Even the movement's founder, Martin Seligman, has some reservations. It's his daughter who taught him to be happy in the first place.
posted by l33tpolicywonk (33 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Having *just* turned off Wall-E before getting on Metafilter, that Fishful Thinking link made me think "B is for Buy-'n'-Large, your very best friend."

Creepy.
posted by JDHarper at 10:05 PM on December 6, 2008


I assumed this was going to be about the cerebral effects of a low Omega-3:Omega-6 ratio in children's diets. (it isn't)
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:13 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


The self-esteem movement is quite distinct from the much broader idea of positive psychology.
posted by Jpfed at 10:17 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Remember when products just wanted us to buy them?

Pepperidge Farm remembers.
posted by ALongDecember at 10:21 PM on December 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Smile. Everyone gets a trophy!
posted by ericb at 10:22 PM on December 6, 2008


Yes, children, you're not only special snowflakes, you're special snowflakes that need to buy crackers to be positive.

Positive. Crackers. Positive. Crackers. Repeat the mantra!
posted by vorfeed at 10:24 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I find this a little creepy. Stop thinking negative thoughts, start thinking about buying our products! Ew.

Psychological techniques can have pretty powerful effects on people and mixing them with advertising seems pretty wrong.
posted by delmoi at 10:34 PM on December 6, 2008


Pepperidge Farm Orange is the new Pepsi Blue.
posted by mhh5 at 10:40 PM on December 6, 2008


They just need more maps.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:43 PM on December 6, 2008


They just need more maps.

They just need more naps.
posted by ericb at 10:55 PM on December 6, 2008


Sounds fishy to me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Positive psychology techniques that aim to instill a sense of optimism halved the rate of depression in three studies of young adults and children that included as much as 10 years of follow-up. ...

What age were the "young adults and children" of initial study?

Dr. Seligman and his associates then studied 10- to 12-year-old children who had symptoms of mild depression. In this study, 67 children participated in a similar positive psychology intervention and 47 served as controls. After 2 years of follow-up, the rate of mild to moderate depression was twice as high among the controls (44%) as among the children who had participated in the intervention (22%).

Okay, how about ratios? What ratio of the control group was 10+ as opposed to 12+? What about the intervention group?

The age ranges described fail to pin down the subjects polled, considering the range of possibilities presented in collecting data from pre-pubescent through adolescent subjects. Fishful thinking my ass, it's feel-good marketing.

And, finally having read some of the "Fishful thinking" answers, I'd like to join whichever group determined that Dr. Reivitch deserves to be relegated to the "part of the problem" stack. On a completely petty, immature note, I would also like to suggest that her co-conspirator, "Dr. Andrew Shatte┬┤," got into the field as a way of getting back at the kids who teased him about his name.
posted by Graygorey at 11:15 PM on December 6, 2008


you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake baked snack cracker
posted by tumult at 11:20 PM on December 6, 2008


Blow me PLEASE Without control. Wait... where are my pills
posted by qinn at 11:57 PM on December 6, 2008


What a deeply disturbing way to sell crackers.

They taste kinda like cheese. And they're salty. They're vaguely fish-shaped. That used to be enough.
posted by GuyZero at 1:26 AM on December 7, 2008


Remember those sweet, warm New England summers? Remember sipping lemonade underneath a shady tree? Remember when you hit that pedestrian with your car at the crosswalk and then just drove away? Pepperidge Farm remembers, but Pepperidge Farm ain't just gonna keep it to Pepperidge Farm's self free of charge. Maybe you go out and buy yourself some of these distinctive Milano cookies, maybe this whole thing disappears...
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:32 AM on December 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Okay, how about ratios? What ratio of the control group was 10+ as opposed to 12+? What about the intervention group?

The equivalence of groups critique. The psych undergrad's version of "Throughout the Ages"
posted by srboisvert at 1:39 AM on December 7, 2008


Pepperidge Farm remembers...

Pepperidge Farms Knows What You Did Last Summer?
posted by GuyZero at 1:43 AM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


> Pepperidge Farms Knows What You Did Last Summer?

They're gonna find your torso in a ditch...

...because Pepperidge Farms dismembers.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:17 AM on December 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


This idea isn't just crazy, it's absolutely crackers!
posted by kcds at 4:38 AM on December 7, 2008


I have another problem with Pepperidge Farms. We have a foil bag of goldfish with their smiling, happy fish on the front. The fish is wearing a bicycle helmet, and is riding a bicycle. Fish. Bicycle. When these words come together in my mind, a phrase emerges: "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."

Since the fish with a bicycle is a happy, joyous fish, is Pepperidge farms then saying that women DO need men to be happy? Is this a subversive stroke against feminism? Are all the other fish on the package without bicycles not happy, their flat baked in expressions a rictus of grin-and-despair-it? And what about the bicycle helmet? Does this signify a condom, or that the woman should expect a rough, violent ride on her "bicycle"? What is the message here?

Could it be... "greasy little crackers, when piled up, resemble a plate of beans."
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:27 AM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Psychological techniques can have pretty powerful effects on people and mixing them with advertising seems pretty wrong.

Right on! Let's hear it for good old traditional advertising that never uses psychological manipulation in order to sell products!
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:06 AM on December 7, 2008


My guess is; relatively affluent kids the world over (well, the older ones, anyway) these days are depressed because they are positively engulfed by messages stating that our society is pretty much fucked, possibly/probably within their lifetimes. Whether this is true or just a result of alarmist media/internet echo chambers (I tend to think it's both) is a matter of debate, but that's got to be part of it. I spent my adolescent years lying awake at night after reading shit about the Brazilian rainforest going up in smoke.
posted by you just lost the game at 6:08 AM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The quiz on the "fishful thinking" link was really well-designed. I wish everything on the internet was like that.
posted by metastability at 8:43 AM on December 7, 2008


Wait, is the journalist of the New York Times piece the daughter of Martin Seligman? Or are they related?
posted by anniecat at 9:02 AM on December 7, 2008


Pepperidge Farm have made Tim Tams available in the USA, thus temporarily absolving them from from all blame in my eyes. Even if they do call them cookies. Tim Tams are a fairly powerful anti-depressant in and of themselves - certainly more so than cheese crackers.
posted by zamboni at 9:22 AM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't like the "colored" goldfish. Perhaps I'm a cracker racist, but I don't think anything purple ought to go around tasting like cheese.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:18 AM on December 7, 2008


I spend my childhood lying awake at night thinking Reagan actually was insane and/or senile enough to push The Button and that the only hope for humanity's survival was sending Bill Murray into Czechoslovakia with a winnebago.

Tell me kids these days have anything to worry about compared to that.
posted by majick at 11:22 AM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm actually cool with this. Compare it with, say, Barbie.
posted by sondrialiac at 12:09 PM on December 7, 2008


The orange cheese-flavoured cracker is a strange beast.

There's the Goldfish, which looks like a fish, tastes like cheese, and made of smiles (one can only assume this is code for Pork Lips); Cheez-It, which has a hole to prevent choking, though the the throat-slashingly sharp corners somewhat trivialize the asphyxiation risk; Cheese Nips, the racist cracker Chris Rock never mentions; and of course Cheese Ritz Bits Sandwiches, which, unlike their name, are not a mouthful.

They're all the same flour, salt, preservatives, and nuclear waste.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:34 PM on December 7, 2008


Crackers don't matter.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:44 PM on December 7, 2008


Smile. Everyone gets a trophy!

Those "my kid is on the honor roll" bumper stickers annoy me similarly. When my twins enter school, I intend to get a bumper sticker made that says "My kids' accomplishments won't fit on a bumper sticker."*

(*assuming that will fit on the bumper sticker)

In the meantime, I was a depressed child, mostly because I was bored and my parents were distant. It was funny how, as a young teenager, I fell in with a group of kids who were supportive and did things like hug and say "I think you're great" -- and suddenly I wasn't depressed any more. I was still bored, mind you; it's just that a little positive encouragement and physical affection does wonders for the mood.
posted by davejay at 9:08 PM on December 7, 2008


> Those "my kid is on the honor roll" bumper stickers annoy me similarly.

The only bumper sticker I've ever laughed out loud at read "MY KID CAN BEAT UP YOUR WIMPY HONOR STUDENT".
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:39 PM on December 8, 2008


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