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Stanford Researcher Confirms Old Brain Role in Decision Making - May 03, 2006

May 03, 2006

Stanford Researcher confirms Old Brain role in decision making

It's all about chocolate cake and fruit salad!

In a fascinating article (published in the May edition of Business 2.0) Baba Shiv a Stanford Marketing Cake_or_salad_1st_page Professor reports on an experiment he conducted a few years ago when he was still an assistant professor at the Univ. of Iowa.

In this experiment they asked 2 groups of people if they prefered chocolate cake over fruit salad. However before asking the subject about their dessert preference they ask them to recall a number. The first group was asked to recall an easy 2 digit number when group 2 was asked to recall a 7 digit number.

And the result was:

  • in group 1, 59% chose the fruit salad
  • in group 2 only 37% chose the salad

Graph_preference

So what happened?

By trying to recall a complex 7 digit number, the logical brain becomes distracted and it let our emotional side take over the decision process and express its preference for the cake which we know is not an healthy choice.

This study supports the SalesBrain model where the "Old Brain" and its emotional side is presented as the key decision maker in the brain of your clients.

And the conclusion is:

  • If you're selling an impulse item, try to get the rational brain of your audience to think about something complex so their emotional side can win,
  • if you're selling a complex solution which requires a lot of rational thinking, do not make your message too complex (as in trying to recall a 7 digit number) or their rational side will lose ground to their emotional side and who knows what solution they will choose!

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