Did you know that there are certain groups who purposely use our brain structure to influence our thinking and behavior? Pretty scary, right? Let me explore with you the world of neuromarketing.
As you know, marketers – whether they are trying to sell you products via commercial advertisements or people promoting certain ideas (on social media or on public platforms) – want you to act in a certain way. If they show you a bottle of ketchup, they want you to buy their brand. If they post a biased article, they want you to support their cause. If they repeatedly say certain untruths in a public forum, they want you to believe them and work to keep them in power.
Here’s how it works: the reptilian brain is the most primitive part of the brain. If you remember last week’s lecture, this is the part that is involved in survival and instinct. It wants to avoid pain. Interestingly, it also is responsible for making many of our decisions. Neuromarketers purposely aim their message at this part of the brain.
And how do they do this? First, they realize that the reptilian brain is reached best through strong emotions. The limbic system, processor of emotions, acts as the doorway to the reptilian brain. Then, neuromarketers target the reptilian brain in seven ways:
- They tap into your pain points – those areas which cause you pain, whether through comparison with others or such survival instincts as hunger or desire for sex (yes, that’s why the voluptuous woman is draped over the hood in the sports car commercial)
- They appeal to your innate selfishness – they will talk directly to “you” in the message
- They will use contrast – such as showing the situation which causes pain and their solution which eases the pain (think of teeth-whitening commercials)
- They emphasize the value of their message – they demonstrate how their message has worked in the past for others, and will work for you
- They focus on the beginning and end of their messaging – since the reptilian brain tends not to focus on details, they make sure the beginnings and ends pack the most punch
- They use a visual metaphor – they know that the optic nerve goes directly to the reptilian brain, making it more visual than verbal
- They strike an emotional chord – they know that keeping the emotions involved will tend to circumvent any involvement by the neocortex, or rational, brain; interestingly, the reptilian brain tends to be more activated by negative than positive emotions
So what can we do to keep from becoming manipulated by these forces? More on that next week.