Much of what’s getting touted as Neuromarketing is neither new nor neuro. Sometimes, tried and true marketing methods are getting “reincarnated” in Cognitive Science terminology. And that’s the good news. The bad news is that Motivational Research discredited and discarded a half century ago is being recycled.
The designers of primitive ads from the ‘20s and ‘30s with cartoon line drawings and kapow copy — e.g. Charles Atlas and the bully of the beach – perfectly understood the use of fear and greed (avoidance and approach). Adolf Hitler, that practitioner of American snake oil peddler / preacher sales techniques (as so impressed Wizard of Oz Watson) succinctly explained the need to target the emotions:
“[Propaganda] must be aimed at the emotions and only to a very limited degree at the so-called intellect… The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses.”
– Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp. 180
Disruption really refers to two very different things: cognitive dissonance and dissociation / automaticity. Cognitive dissonance affects the schemas and dissociation / automaticity sculpts identity and habit through memory. Though both are not necessarily conscious, there’s nothing primitive, much less reptilian, about either of the processes.
And when it comes to rampant confusion with neural anatomy and emotions, it’s really leapin’ lizards with the Neuro and other new Marketing gurus. The amygdala is part of the limbic system, not the reptilian complex. For Neurobiology, the emotions are not some primeval relics, but are instead some of a number of important instruments in the concert that is consciousness.
Studying the Mind in the Middle: A Practical Guide to Priming and Automaticity Research
John A. Bargh and Tanya L. Chartrand
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. . . priming how recent or current experience Passively (without an intervening act of will) creates internal readinesses.
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Priming and automaticity research have a common purpose: to explore the effects of individual differences in accessibility of mental representations on perception, evaluation, motivation, and behaviour. However, while priming research centers on the temporary activation of an indvidual’s mental representatation by the environment and the effect of this activation on various psychological phenomena, automaticity research focuses on more permanent, “hard-wired sources of activation, that is chronic accessibility of social knowledge structures.
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. . . automatic processing . . . various types of processing that are considered not conscious . . .
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Consciousness is a late arrival on the evolutionary scene. Sophisticated unconscious perceptual and cognitive functions preceded its emergence by a considerable margin.
Reber, A.R. (1993). Implicit learning and tacit knowledge: An essay on the cognitive unconscious
Perception Without Awareness of What Is Perceived, Learning Without Awareness of What Is Learned
By John F. Kihlstrom
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The turning point came in the early 1980s, with a new round of demonstrations of subliminal perception by Marcel (1980, 1983a, 1983b) and Kunst-Wilson and Zajonc (1980). Marcel�s experiments employed a semantic-priming paradigm in which the prime was masked. When the prime and the target were semantically related, priming was observed on lexical decisions concerning the targets, even though the subjects did not detect the prime itself. Kunst-Wilson and Zajonc (1980) employed an adaptation of the mere exposure paradigm with extremely brief tachistoscopic exposures of the stimuli, which in this case were nonsense polygons. Subjects showed an enhanced preference for stimuli which had been repeatedly exposed, even though they had not detected the exposures themselves. In short order, both results were replicated by other investigators: Marcel�s by Fowler and her colleagues (Fowler, Wolford, Slade, & Tassinary, 1981) and Balota (1983); those of Kunst-Wilson and Zajonc by Seamon and his colleagues (Seamon, Brody, & Kauff, 1983; Seamon, Marsh, & Brody, 1984) and many others (for a review, see Bornstein, 1989). By presenting evidence that meaning (denotative in the case of Marcel, connotative in the sense of Kunst-Wilson and Zajonc) could be processed subliminally, these experiments moved beyond the pioneering study of Pierce and Jastrow (1885), which involved only the discrimination of stimulus qualities such as brightness and weight, and seemed to fulfil the promise of the New Look.
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Another variant on the unconscious acquisition of knowledge is provided by studies of implicit learning (Reber, 1967), in which subjects appear to learn from experience without being aware of what they have learned, or even of the fact that they have learned anything at all.
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Focusing on research at Target and Procter & Gamble, on 2/19 the New York Times Magazine had an article, How Companies Learn Your Secrets, by Charles Duhigg on habits and Marketing:
Instead of “habits,” the better term is automaticity:
At a quick glance, the graphic grabs conscious attention by seeming to show a lesbian encounter. Concentration then reveals the models in unusual, but not necessarily sexual poses. This supraliminal priming is a reversal of the technique used in subliminal advertising. With subliminal messages, it’s the unconscious that gets the front row center seating. Though the subject is consciously aware of a stimulus delivered by supraliminal priming, the effect remains unconscious. Thus, both subliminal and supraliminal priming are beyond the reach of the mind’s critical faculties.