How We Make Decisions: Hint: It has very little to do with logic.

According to the latest neuroscience, decision making is not a cognitive process.  It does not take place in the conscious mind.  I know what you’re thinking right now.  Your conscious mind is thinking that this is nonsense.  You are thinking that you are smart and you weigh all of the pros and cons before making any decisions.  This makes you feel in control.  But the truth is that decisions are made in the subconscious mind and are based on memory and emotions more than on any linear thought process.

Let’s take an example of people who are addicted to some kind of drug.  Their cognitive, conscious mind can logically come up with a million reasons not to do drugs.  It is logical.  It is the smart thing to do.  I will die if I keep doing this.  But when it comes down to that decision to do a drug or not to do a drug, the subconscious mind takes over and decides to take the drug.  This may seem overly simplistic to you, but the decision making process lies deep within the subconscious. I understand there are addictive qualities that affect brain function, but in essence, the subconscious mind decides what it needs and overrides all of the cognitive processes.

Let’s take a less drastic example.  Condiments.  What condiments do you use?  Many people are militant about their condiments.  For some, it’s only Kraft Mayonnaise or Heinz Ketchup.  When you convince them to try Miracle Whip or Del Monte or some organic mayonnaise or ketchup, what’s the normal reaction?  Why do they have such an attachment to those products?  The answer lies deep within the subconscious.  It’s memories, probably filled with good emotions, where these condiments were put on a hot dog or hamburger at a family cookout.  It is warm and comforting and full of those affirming emotions.  And it takes a lot for someone to consider another product.

Car companies have recognized this.  It used to be that there was a wide range of car prices and quality.  Now you can get a pretty darned great car for not a lot of money.  There are many of these car companies in that same boat.  So how do they differentiate themselves?  Through emotions and memory.  What makes a Suburu a Suburu?  Love, of course.  Take a look at the Jeep Wrangler commercial (The things we make, make us), or the dancing hamsters for Kia Soul (fun times), or the Chevy commercial where they find Dad’s old Impala.  You could even substitute Emotions for Chevy (Chevy Runs Deep).  Check out those you tube videos and see what emotions they conjure up in you.

That goes for service as well.  Are you filling your clients with positive emotional experiences or cold transactions filled with cognitive processes?  You would do well to pay attention to this.  Start thinking about how people truly make decisions and adjust your business accordingly.


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