Thursday, January 23, 2014

ok, let's get your system 2 on for a minute

We've been describing the importance of recognising the extraordinary power of system one type mental processes in 'how-advertising-actually-works' as part of our planning process for a long time.

To make it fun and easy for clients to 'get it' there are many system one exercises that can be wheeled out to illustrate intuitive decision making, the many ways we fool ourselves and how we respond emotionally even though we might imagine we are thinking rationally.

I've used the famous bat-and-ball example, various card tricks and faux-hypnotism amongst others.

While this is great, there is perhaps a danger that it can sometimes feel a bit like smarty pants, parlour-trickery, so needs to be contrasted with some demonstration of the other side of the coin, the effortful system two thinking.

Here's a quick one that does the job, yet again it's from Thinking Fast and Slow.

So, if you've shown your client that they don't think as much as they think they think by flummoxing them with some system one self delusion then want them to turn on the system two juice, the following exercise* is handy.

[*As a short aside it's not advisable to do this excercise if you want to sell them anything immediately afterwards.

The amount of ego depletion post-task is likely to kick-in some heavy duty system one default-to-no risk aversion.]

To start, get them to make up several sequences of 4 numbers each, make them all different, and write each string on post-it note or something.

Place a blank piece of paper on top to cover your deck of numbers.

This excercise is called add-1.

Next start tapping a steady rhythm with something, about 122 bpm should suffice (if in doubt, imagine a bit of vintage house 88/89 style pumping) or ask the subjects to do it.

Ask them to remove the cover then read the four digits out loud.

Then after two beats, say a sequence in which each of the original digits is incremented by 1.

For example, if the numbers on the first post-it are 1-9-0-3, the +1 increment will be 2-0-1-4.

Got it? Geep them going with the rest of the sequences, keep feeling the rhythm.

After about 5 seconds or so it will start to get pretty hard.

Most people can just about cope with four digits in the +1 task, but if you want to make it harder, then wind it up to +3.

The amount of cognitive effort being used will be reflected physiologically in the dilating of the pupils of your subject, so it can also be useful to film them up close with your phone or something then play it back.

That's your classic system two demo.

Watch the knackered faces of your subjects after just a few seconds.

Then refer them back to their brief to you which contains a long list of things that they expect 'the consumer' to 'think'.

Then propose that, perhaps, a better approach is to simply do our best to get the advertising noticed and remembered by more people in more buying situations by making them feel something, make implicit associations and by appealing to the intuitive system one, who really runs 'tings.

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