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Psychology and Innovation: The curious observation of Edmund Burke

Michael Jackson once sang “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways”. Well sorry Michael but according Dr. Simon Hampton we’re all narcissists – well most of us and if we’re not, we know someone who is dependent on how you perceive yourself to be.

Which nicely leads us to Edmund Burke who, as Dr. Hampton explains, created the concept of idealism. According to Burke, we create memories of ourselves in our heads of what we look like, sound like and walk like. When we see that reflected in a photo or in a recording of ourselves we tend to shy away from the reality as the truth. As in our head, the concept of self is different to what is actually perceived.

We have all heard ‘you are what you eat’ but what if you are what you see or in this case portray. Social media sites such as Facebook have allowed us to dictate an infantilised version of ourselves for people to see. The holiday picture in the Alps, the concert that we went to but others missed out on, all these ‘social highlights’ are depicted to raise one’s self esteem and concept of self; and why not, why should we put up negative images or comments on social media sites that degrade oneself – we’ll leave that to family members and trolls.

It all comes down to the truth and for most of us we can’t handle the truth, for as Dr. Hampton says our self-esteem is the distance between real and idealised self. We either create a false uniqueness (underestimate other actions to make ourselves feel special) or a false conscience (overestimate what everyone else does so you feel justified in what you’re doing).

To finish, it all comes down to not “tell’em what they tell you they don’t want you to know”. For in the case of self, the truth does not set you free – it hurts.


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Ed is a digital XMP planner at OMD UK and is always looking for innovative ways to plan his campaigns. He has an insatiable appetite for technology and has always been interested in how technology, through invention and innovation, is shaping our futures.

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