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Want to add some extra persuasive punch to your message? All you need is some neuroscience. And quite literally so: explanations that contain neuroscientific information such as brain scans or typical neuro-lingo are more persuasive.
Researchers from Yale University discovered the allure of neuroscientific explanations as far back as 2008. Apparently, compared to your average psychological explanation, nothing comes as close to the ultimate form of proof as the brain.
But what makes neuroscience so alluring? Why do these explanations work so well? Even while they are completely irrelevant? Recently, Weisberg and colleagues (2015) further discovered how and why a mere nod to the brain skyrockets your persuasiveness.
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Even a dishwasher commercial would thrive from brains
Interestingly, the effect of neuroscientific explanations holds regardless of whether the neuroscience is actually valid. In other words: even a dishwasher commercial would thrive from a brain poster in the background. Irrespective of being true or relevant, neuroscience makes people more eager to buy into the message.
The researchers ruled out all alternative explanations that were left open in previous studies. The increased persuasiveness truly follows from the neuroscience component, and is not a side effect of factors that typically accompany it, such as increased message length (which does increase persuasiveness as well), technical jargon or use of images.
Neuroscience thwarts critical thinking
“Mr. White is the most successful businessman in town ever because he's the best business men in our town’s history.”
That’s a good old circular argument, a common fallacy in reasoning.
In general, people are quite skilled in distinguishing such weak explanations from strong ones. Even when both explanations contain a neuroscientific component, people have no trouble pointing to which one is most solid. But when only the weak argument contains a neuroscientific explanation, people’s critical thinking suddenly gets fogged – often to the point where they favor the weak neuroscientific argument over the strong non-neuroscientific one.
How to seduce ethically with neuroscience
Relevance is not required for neuroscience to increase persuasiveness. But I would advise to employ neuroscience only when it fits your message, simply for the sake of being a decent artist of persuasion.
The easiest way to apply this principle is by referring to a specific brain region, process, neurotransmitter or hormone. For instance, a fitness supplement containing zinc could mention its promoting effect on males’ testosterone production, which subsequently alters brain activity to increase mood, self-esteem and vitality. Note that this example doesn’t include any technical jargon or specifics, as the persuasive punch of neuroscience even occurs when the message is kept simple.
Another way to sway with brain information is through visuals. Your message could embed brain scans, animations or simply some beautifully designed graphics that relate to the brain.
'The P from Psychology' - as seen on one of New Neuromarketings founders website studiostt.nl
As our brain guides us through every trail of life, there are many ways to enrich your message with neuroscientific information in a way that’s relevant and true. Even when your product or cause doesn’t seem to fit well at first sight. Do you think your message be spiced up with some neuroscience? Let’s discuss below!
I vividly remember reading a cool article last year. Scientist found that words that sound alike could trigger the same brain areas. Specifically they found that ‘bye now’ and ‘buy now’ were closely linked together. It was good to know that the hidden gems from the scientific journals still found their way to us marketers. But after that it got quiet. Where was I going to get those latest juicy insights?