Emotions are essential to our decision-making process. But letting our hearts make big decisions about our homes, cars, and careers seems like it could be a dangerous thing. Is our gut instinct a good instinct?
According to neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, our gut feelings, scientifically known as “somatic markers,” help us make decisions more efficiently. Following a hunch means we don’t need a lot of time to reason rationally. But is an impulsive decision a good one? Quite often, yes. Damasio’s research suggests that emotions trump logic when it comes to making decisions.
The brain is a complex creature
Our brains are a network of interrelated parts. It’s tough to have a decision based purely on emotion or purely on logic and reason. Psychologist and neuroscientist Stephen Kosslyn suggests we have a top brain and a bottom brain that work together. The top brain absorbs information from our environment and emotions. The bottom brain focuses on signals and senses, compares them to our memories, and considers the consequences of our decisions. Even our impulsive decisions, then, are based on some reasoning.
Kosslyn suggests that the extent to which we are controlled by our top vs. bottom brain says a lot about us. He suggests that most people fall into one of four cognitive modes:
- Movers use both the top and bottom systems of the brain to plan and see the consequences of their actions.
- Perceivers use more bottom brain and often analyze and give context to a situation.
- Stimulators make elaborate plans without always considering consequences.
- Adaptors don’t favor top or bottom and often let the environment or others make decisions.
Knowing which mode seems like you is the first step to making sound decisions, suggests Kosslyn. Considering all four modes will help you as a marketer to better reach your audience. Perceivers, for example, might benefit from seeing a budget, reviewing a list of pros and cons, or receiving a detailed information packet. Movers are ready to be make impulsive emotional decisions. However, they will need some assurance from you that attending your event will result in benefits rather than consequences.
Kosslyn explains the complexity of decision making. Damasio’s research suggests emotions must play a role in the process. There is no magic formula that will address all the brains in your base.
But balancing emotion and reason seems like the way to go when guiding your audience toward your organization and events.
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