In her review of Fennis and Stroebe's The Psychology of Advertising, Debra Merskin states:
Just as other applications/appropriations of psychology have been under fire in terms of the ethical implications of using what we know to guide, for example, interrogation of prisoners, informing advertisers of more precise methods of persuasion should raise ethical questions about the use of it to lower resistance to selling messages.Is it ethical to advertise products to young children? Adults have the cognitive and affective resources to defend against advertising, and they are mature enough to make informed choices. Children are still developing these skills.This question is especially relevant for products that may be considered unhealthy, such as candy or fast food. Relatedly, is it unethical for psychologists to help with these advertising efforts using their knowledge of attitude change or focus groups of children to develop ads that will be persuasive to that age group?
By Debra Merskin
PsycCRITIQUES, 2011 Vol 56(7)