Do you think of yourself as intelligent and sophisticated?
You probably do. I do too. Somewhat. Otherwise, I could not be a Healthcare Multi-channel Marketing expert. And you would not be able to fulfill your current, demanding professional role.
We rightly feel intelligent. Our brain features seriously advanced circuitry. Millions of years of evolution have evolved our brain into a formidable machine equipping humanity to create unearthly scientific advances, harness the earth’s resources, and develop an ever more complex, global civilization — for good and for bad.
So our brain is clever — in many ways. It preserves energy to be ready when a new, critical challenge appears — to allow us to survive and thrive in a competitive world.
To ensure energy preservation, when the brain has learned something for the first time, it subsequently automates the behavior and reduces the energy used to repeat the action in the future. Learning to ride a bike is a relatable example in point for a Dane. When you start to learn to ride a bike, your brain is highly preoccupied with keeping the balance, steering with one arm on the steering wheel while indicating with the other; breaking without falling; keeping your eyes on other cyclists; pretending not to have a care in the world while being on mental and physical high alert, etc. In essence, you and your brain are being drained and exhausted during the learning process. But once you have learned it, you never give it another thought — you just cycle. Your brain has automated and hard-wired cycling.
Similarly, the bulk of our brain’s reactions are hard-wired and with no voluntary control — just in the same way as for cycling. This allows the brain to deal with the constant bombardment of stimuli from the environment. Thus, we scan the environment for stimuli, and based on our recollection of similar past stimuli, we react, mirroring past behavior. And for simplicity, we categorize stimuli crudely.
In my field of work, Marketing and Communication, such automatic, subconscious reaction and categorization represent a significant challenge. Often marketing interrupts an existing activity in the daily life of the potential customer. Thus, the creative needs to have stopping power which prevents the marketing message from automatically being directed into a benign, “same old” or “not for me” negative category and ignored accordingly. Daniel Kahneman famously referred to our automatic, fast reaction as System 1. Expediently, as marketing professionals, we have developed techniques to funnel through System 1 reactions to engage the slow, conscious, logical thinking of System 2 and also work with cognitive biases to influence how System 1 poses the case to a given target audience’s System 2 thinking. Furthermore, many neuro science-based marketeers are adding elements such as context, time, and social influence. Or, on a more foundational level, at my company Vertic, we create Share of Life® where the product is seamlessly integrated into the life of the customer.
Studies suggest that 95% of our decisions are made via System 1. Whereas our brain is on autopilot for most decisions, I try to convince myself that I apply conscious thinking to the most important decisions. Otherwise, I am hardly intelligent nor sophisticated? Are you?