BrainTrust Query: Loss Of Emotion Leads To Indecision
Commentary by Richard Phillips, Managing Partner, Arámbula-Phillips Communications
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt from a current article from the Arámbula-Phillips Communications blog.
Without emotion you can’t decide. Yet most people think they are rational beings that make decisions in a calculated, rational manner. Jonah Lehrer’s best-selling book, How We Decide, turns all this on its head. The key point of the book is how loss of emotion leads to indecision. And how humans really make decisions driven by emotion rather than rational thinking.
In How We Decide, Mr. Lehrer initially debunks the myth that all decision-making can be rational. He points to intelligent people becoming virtually unable to make the most trivial decisions when their capacity for feelings is flattened as a result of brain disease or trauma. But the core of the book is spent exploring how emotions impact decision making in positive as well as negative ways. For instance, one topic probed is “Loss Aversion,” or the propensity of the human brain to register bad news more strongly than good.
In exploring “Negativity Bias,” Mr. Lehrer explains why in the average marital relationship it takes five compliments to make up for a single negative remark. At the same time, he illustrates many instances when emotions or “gut feelings” led to the right – albeit irrational – decision. The conclusion: better understanding of emotions can lead to better decision-making.
Whenever we make a decision, the brain is awash in feeling, driven by its inexplicable passions,” said Mr. Lehrer. “Even when we try to be reasonable and restrained, these emotional impulses secretly influence our judgment. Of course, by understanding how the human mind makes decisions–and by learning about the decision-making mistakes that we’re all vulnerable to–we can learn to make better decisions.”
There’s been a lot of work in this area, but I found Mr. Lehrer’s book an interesting read while communicating key findings in neuroscience and the how and why of emotion being such a crucial component of decision-making, and indirectly, marketing.
I’ve always been keen about connecting science to the need of having to create “an emotional connection” or “emotional end benefit” with consumers in order to sell effectively. Mr. Lehrer details how emotion is indispensable in helping humans make sense of the “helter skelter” of everyday life. Consumers seek out brands, even when they think they are not, because brands make it easier to decide at the supermarket or dealership. No doubt, this is obvious, yet what’s important here is the scientific rationale clearly linking emotions to decision making, in every area of life. So, it is science making the case that branding and marketing are required and not optional.
Discussion Questions: How big a role do you think emotions play in decision-making? Are emotions a key purchase driver for most brands or only a select few? How are emotions tied to branding and marketing?
- Loss Of Emotion Leads To Indecision – Arámbula-Phillips Communications
- A Q&A with Jonah Lehrer, Author of How We Decide – Amazon.com