In the last couple of posts I dealt with competitors, how to generate insights, as well as reminding you about the importance of immersing yourself into the consumer’s world. What I haven’t covered is how actual human nature plays a part in how people behave across the board, no matter who you are. It clearly links with understanding your consumer’s world and generating insights, but more importantly, it provides insight into WHY people do what they do. Ever wondered why people follow the crowd? Why they do irrational things even though a better option is staring them in the face or why people’s behaviour is not consistent from one situation to the next even though it should be in theory?

Lets make it a bit less abstract. Imagine you are at a soccer game. You decided before hand that you will BEHAVE this time round in order to avoid the wrath of the girlfriend or wife. Yet when you’re with your friends at the game, you just can’t help yourself. You’re in trouble – AGAIN. Why? Because you had limited willpower to with stand the temptation in the moment. This is called Bounded willpower.

How about you choosing the most expensive bank or cellphone contract or even something as simple as bread. You end up just picking one, because you overwhelmed with the amount of info you are faced with. White bread, brown bread, high fiber, Low GI, toast white, toast brown, freshly baked…you catch my drift. Limited cognitive ability comes into play because you are overwhelmed with the information and choices at hand.

Lastly, you are frugal with your money, making sure you spend it the RIGHT way. You save, you put money into an investment and you have enough left over to live on. Yet when a famous artist comes to town that you absolutely DETEST, but your significant other loves, you part with your hard earned cash, because you know it will make him/her happy. To sacrifice your own best interest for someone else is called Bounded self-interest.

Now before you go all cross-eyed with confusion, let me clarify how all these elements fit together. Bounded willpower, Limited cognitive ability and Bounded self-interest are all theories within the Behavioural Economics school of thought. This is the latest field to enter  the communications sphere, as it provides understanding of inner workings of our mind. It builds on traditional economics with one exception: it factors people’s humanity into their decisions. Traditional economics believe people make perfect decisions no matter how much info gets thrown at them, will always make the right decision for themselves and will be able to withstand any kind of temptation. We all know this is a far cry from reality as this “super human” does not exist.

We are influenced by others, our emotions, info overload and a host of other elements which result in us not always behaving like traditional economics predict we should. The following two videos will provide you more info into this field and will form the foundation for my next post which will center around the different methods you can use to make these ‘human conditions’ work for you in communication, rather than against.

This first clip is the renowned Dan Ariely, who introduces what Behavioural Economics is. He is a master in the field of Behavioural Economics and wrote numerous books on the subject such as Predictably Irrational.

The second video provides a more in-depth analyses on the subject, so if you have 20 minutes, watch this one as well.

Till next week!

Note: all images thanks to Google Images and videos from Youtube.