My Top 6 Social Science “Nerdiness” Books!

Library at Melk Abbey in Austria

This is a quick list of some of my favourite social science book, I highly recommend them. Although some of them are very old and some things refuted (after all some philosophers say science must be falsifiable), appreciate the train of though. (not in any particular order)

  1. The Moral Animal: Why We Are, The Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology by Robert Wright The Moral Animal

2. The Blind Watchmaker: Why The Evidence of Evolution Reveals A Universe Without Design by Richard Dawkins

The Blind Watchmaker

3. The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris

The Naked Ape

4. The Moment of Clarity: Using The Human Science To Solve Your Biggest Business Problem by Christian Madsbjerg

The Moment Of Clarity

5. The Expression of Emotion in Man And Animal by Charles Darwin

The Expression of Emotion in Man And Animal by Charles Darwin(I Know it looks creepy!)

6. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

The Selfish Gene

Don’t Worry! We Still Have Ourself!

Huffington Post
Huffington Post

In all my previous blog posts I pretty much was talking about new marketing techniques are really getting to know us, perhaps a little more than we want. Although brain scanning images and techniques cannot read thought, they do give us important information on how we think and how we make decisions. Also Big Data which is focused on drilling down on each individual and treating each individual differently.

The world spends around 50 billion dollars on market research asking people what they think

The Guardian
The Guardian

about this or that and what they want, but it seems that it is very hard to know what you really want, or can’t even image what we want about categories that we know nothing about. Big dada is definitely a big step ahead because it tracking actual behaviour as apposed to reported behaviour like where we are and what were doing.

But the problem with all these new marketing techniques such as big data, neuromarketing, and the “big data evangelists” is that they sort of think that the data answers the questions itself, without any sort of interpretation, which would be awesome since it gets ride of biases and all sorts of human problems, and data does not speak for itself.

Coral Activity During hand Movement
Coral Activity During hand Movement

Although the data is a great source of information, it still need interpretation. For example Facebook claims that they have the most advanced model of the world, although they have very interesting data, they don’t have the most advanced model of the world. Or for neuromarketing for example the brain is the most complicated thing we have every studies, and when 2 of these complicated things meet ( 2 brains) very complicated things happen, and when millions of these complicated things meet, EXTREMELY complicated things happen.

So the phenomenon of humanity, our souls, or spirits, or our shared humanity is a very complicated things and reducing that to simple behaviour because for example google would think they know everything about me because they know where I am or what I click on online, they really know nothing about us. Or Facebook’s claim that they have the most advanced model of the world, although they have very interesting new data, they don’t have the most advanced model of the world.

That is exactly the problem, its when companies claim to much based to natural sciences, and methods when it comes to understanding culture and people.

What do you think about how much “data” knows about us? do you think they completely know who you are? How far do you think sciences can know about us and with what implications?

I’d love to know what you think, leave me a comment and we can have a nice chat! 🙂


Religions & Brands

03-brand-religion.w529.h529.2xFor quit some time now many pope have discussed, and toyed with the idea that brands to some extent act as a religion or at the very least exhibit some of the same characteristics as religions. Buyology is a an in-depth 3 year neuromarketing study to identify the effects brands, logos, commercials, advertising and products. Scanning 2,000 consumers brains using fMRI, what we learned was that there is a very strong correlation between brans like Apple and Harley Davidson and religion, in fact they are almost the same regions in the brain that are activated.

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy
Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy

In my last post we talked about lifestyle branding, and this is the first time we can physically see that brands are so much more than products, we in fact buy into a believe system.

Brands like Apple have been incredibly good, while brands like BlackBerry are not doing it

A patient goes into an fMRI Machine. (Creative Commons)
A patient goes into an fMRI Machine. (Creative Commons)

that well, trusting and building that trust from religion into the band strategy. For brands and marketers to understand this more clearly the most important thing is to understand what creates a powerful religion, and this has been studies extensively by social and cultural anthropologists, they could be mystery, strong enemy, sensory appeal or can can rituals.

The fascinating things with apple is that they actually incorporate all these elements and is truly sensory, with the iPad, its all about the tactile sensation and visual sensation and even have their own ritual of swiping the screen to the right to unlock it. This ritual of starting up this device is integrated into a while system of how we navigate, and has been adapted into their brand strategy.

What do you think? Do brands really act or incorporate ideas or religion into their brand strategy? Do they carry ideologies like the rest of us?

We Miss Our Local Farmers!

What brand tribe do you belong to?

I really wonder how many people really took a moment and ask them selves that, god knows when I first heard of lifestyle branding i have never even come close to asking myself that question or even recognize that there is such a thing as brand tribe.

We are all very familiar with brands, simply being a product with a consistent logo, image, or mascot that sends a consistent quality and message. But today brands are so much more than simple logo and a message, and this is where the rise of lifestyle brands come in.

In 1995 there were many shift around free trade, and corporate consolidation and globalism was the latest phenomenon. During those times, with the rise in anger over multi-national corporations, companies realized that ignored to be successful in the 2003415_883412660

Assembly Line
Assembly Line

global marketplace, that they don’t only have to sell products, but can also sell ideas, meaning, and lifestyles. This also explains the new and creative forms of marketing directed particularly at young people.

Remember when all the products we ever need were made and bough from the local shopkeeper or local farmer ? I certainly don’t , this relationship between the consumer 2003415_883412660and the shopkeeper was a relationship of trust. But with the rise of mass industrialism, and mass transport, we were now getting our products and groceries off of trains, trucks and our of anonymous factories that we have no idea where or what or anything else in that matter, which was quite scary at the time.

Thats why the original brands were comforting logos, often with people like Quaker Oats or Aunt Jemima, that actually acted as surrogate relationships, someone you can relate to and form personal relationships with, as opposed to those trusting relationships we had with our local farmer or

Aunt Jemima
Aunt Jemima


Now we all literally follow brands like celebrities, and we even tend to organize ourself into brand tribes, being a Nike person or Hilfiger person.

Coca-Cola, Disney, and McDonals are core American brands and they precisely became so powerful because they understood they can sell lifestyles. What do you think Coke stands for or which lifestyle or ideology do they are trying to portray? How about Disney andMcDonalds. I’d love to know what you think these lifestyle brands try to promote, clearly Coke sells something way more powerful than just a black fizzy drink?


Darren Browns Powers of Perception

Have you ever wondered where we sometimes come up with ideas and inspiration,or have you ever walked into a store and felt a sense of familiarity with a product or brand that we think we have never heard of. The amount of information that we unconsciously absorb is staggering.

In this Video magician Darren Brown is trying to see whether marketing and advertising executives are just as susceptible to subliminal messages as the rest of us, and the results and MIND BLOWING!

Have you every felt a connection with a product thinking that we have never heard of? Do you think Brands creating surrogate relationships with its customers with Characters like Quaker Oats, Aunt Jemima, and The Green Giant is as strong as a relationship as the one reused to have with our local farmers?I’d love to know what you think!

Lets watch……

Derren Brown wields his powers of perception and mind manipulation over the unsuspecting and the sceptical.

Why The Obama Message Worked!

Frank Luntz is a very interesting man, using focus groups Luntz tests “language and finding words that will help his clients sell their product or turn public opinion on an issue or a candidate.” Also being Political consultant and a Pollster, On Fox News Luntz shares his opinion on why the Obama message worked so well.

During his 2008 campaign, Obama ran the most positive campaign emphasizing change, and hope and really brought americans together. During his 2012 Campaign Obama ran the most negative campaign looking at the Ads put out int Florida, Ohio, and Virginia.

Obama 2008 TV Ads.

On the Other Side Mitt Romney’s campaign fell flat footed for several reasons. Although people depicted Romney as a decent, moral, and a civil person, we did not hear the differences of how Romney would do a better job that Obama. Although Romney did state the differences in the presidential debate, by the time he said it, it took the message to long to reach people costing him votes in Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Colorado.

Obama Ads Targeting Romney:

Another Fact that substantially weakened Romney’s campaign was the simple fact that he did not respond to the Hundred of million of dollars worth of TV ads put out by the Obama administration claiming Romney as a “Politicrate”, and Luntz tells us that these ads have been playing day and night and once people see it with repetition, eventually they will start to believe it.

The Take Away point that Luntz is trying to make its for every campaign moving forward, is that if we are attacked whether it be unjust, unfair or inaccurate we have better response immediately or voters will assume what is being said it true.

Losing The Natural Touch

Have we lost touch with nature? Have we lost our ability to associate ourself with the world, the ability to know where things are coming from in the natural living world?

Humans, like most animals usually have to worry about 3 things: Food, Predators, and Disease. As human technology progressed the agricultural revolution allowed us to produce food as apposed to foraging and hunting, we were able to basically get ride of giphyall the predators, and once we have medicine to take care of infectious disease, we have had the luxury to worry about other obsessions such as status, social issues, and sexual attractiveness perhaps more than any other animals in the history of life on earth.

Geoffrey Miller, a Professor of Psychology at the University of New Mexico explains to us a puzzling irony in human life today. As technology and history progress we have increased mastery over our environment. With the agricultural revolution, human societies shifted to farming and cultivating our small patches of land instead of having to go out and forage for food.

Then With the Industrial revolution our reach is much more extended having more technical control over the environment, withdrawing even further into our bourgeois houses, caring about the mechanism that surround us e.g. plumbing, fridge, Car, and TV.

With the industrial revolution today we have a highly mechanized, globalized, computerized supply system leading to the marketing revolution Miller explain that we withdraw even further into ourselves, not worrying about the mechanisms and technology that surrounds us anymore but the brands that surrounds us, we don’t know how to plumbing, fridge, or car works anymore we just know what kind of car, or which kind of fridge we have, causing a gradual withdrawal of focus from our environments into our own narratives.

Do you think that we as a species have lost sense and touch with the natural living world? if not, I would love to hear you opinion. What ways can we better educate not only ourself but future generations about the importance and sacredness of the earth we inhabit today?


Drive 4 Prestige

“Individuals conspicuously consume to signal their wealth” is the opening line in a Research paper publish in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology at Cornell University. While the rest of the world is struggling through an economic crisis, the luxury good industry is racking in over $200 Billion annually.

Disney-positions-itself-as-the-new-tentpole-power-houseWe are already familiar that Brands and Products can represent certain things (ideas, values, beliefs, lifestyles) and we literally buy into certain brands that represent who we are. Other than converting a sense of prestige, social status, wealth, and exclusivity, they also help us express our uniques selves and act as a social signalling conveying social status and and prestige (e.g. Driving a expensive sports car aligns you with a elite group: those who can afford it).

Ghent University in Belgium conducted a study and conceded that merely looking an touching expensive luxury items bestows feelings go instant gratification, and when an actual purchase is made, the reward centre of the brain are highly engaged, a feeling that is exclusive to expensive shopping.

Most successful marketing and advertising campaign have been created to touch upon the consumers ego, hence the reason advertisements encourage us to compete with one another and our neighbours over Television and Cars, and things such as who has the best Christmas and Halloween decoration. But why do these tactics resonate so deeply with us and actually shape our consumption behaviours. Surely marketers did not invent a deep rooted desire for prestige in all of man kind,  what evolutionary purpose did the cultural trait of “Prestige” serve in our earlier ancestors that makes it so prevalent is our human psyche today? 

Dr. Aimee Plourde a Post-Doctoral Researcher, from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London explains that one of the many differences between humans and other animals is prestige, in term of ranking and social status. Animals have social status and ranking and are conveyed through dominance behaviours (violence, threat of violence and cohesion) but only humans have prestige, respect, power and authority that is freely granted from one individual to another.

Prestige seemes to be very darwinistic in a sense that it has probably been selected in the course of human evolution, since we don’t share this with other primates species, that desire for prestige and perhaps the signalling component as well is something that has emerged over the course of human history. And i would say that it has done so because its adaptive, it confers a benefits of getting increased good, services, respect,

and authority from others has got to have benefits, therefore natural selection over time has shapes our psychologies and our behaviours in such a way that we both desire prestige and act in ways of acquiring it.

Our evolved dispositions to seek status and desire presage are operating in a context now that are extremely difference from the ones they originally evolved. What way do you think that this can be a hindrance to todays economy and more importantly our society?

* Dr. Aimee Plourde is Post-Doctoral Researcher, Institute of Archaeology, University College London focusing on the role of prestige goods in the formation of sociopolitical hierarchy.

Did I Buy That?

Dubai Shopping Festival - 2015
Dubai Shopping Festival – 2015

As average everyday consumers, we believe that we are deeply rational, that every decision we make is carefully weighed and measure, where in fact 85% of our decision are deeply irrational.

Do you know why you refer Coke over Pepsi? Do you have an emotional connection to a brand or product? Most of us do and this is why branding works so well, they tap into our emotions and that is why it is so hard to measure, because emotional happen in the deepest reaches of our subconscious brain.

IMOTIONS Biometric Research Platform

Psychologists , doctors, as well as marketing managers have been trying to measure emotions for a long time in hopes of understand what moves us deeply inside and what motivates our choices has given rise to neuromarketing, and usually measuring 3 parameters precisly : Emotions, Memory, Attention.

Gathering the data from these 3 metrics (for example a product ad) and researchers can give the ad an overall effectiveness score that is applied to the ad. The Roles of emotion and decision making is one of the main point that scientists are trying to decipher, and the decision it takes to make a purchase.

EMOTIV 3D Map Brain Premium

The question now is what happens emotionally not because of a result of something that happened to you (for example winning something) but more interestingly before that thing happens, before you make the decision and before you find out what happens, are we in an emotional state, and can that influence purchasing behaviour.

We will look at some of these experiments conducted and some of their very interesting finding. Find out how researchers are now able to accurately predict with 85% accuracy weather you will purchase a product 10 to 12 second before we consciously think we made our decision.

Introduction to Neuromarketing & Consumer Neuroscience Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy
Introduction to Neuromarketing & Consumer Neuroscience
Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy

Still Not 1984!


It’s no question that the world today is moving startling pace in terms of technological innovation fostering knowledge.

The Sheer creativity of the human mind, coupled with dedication and persistence has given rise to new series of research development and technology paving the way for the Agricultural revolution, the Industrial revolution and today, what seems to be the Marketing revolution.

There seems to be new research fields emerging in the sciences almost daily, and a very recent edition to the sciences is Consumer Neuroscience, NeuroMarketing, and Applied Consumer Psychology.

And this is where things get very….interesting.


The weird thing is, that 70 – 80 % of products hitting the market fail within their first year
of release, and this is usually back up by research data, questionnaires and focus groups. This huge disconnect between what people are saying, and what they are doing has interested many researchers as well as marketers, paving the way for consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing.

Simply put, neuromarketing uses new and state of the art medical technology and brain research techniques in hopes of understanding the subconscious human brain, that is subconscious reactions to particular brands, slogans, and advertisements.


So pretty much, researchers in can predict whether you prefer Pepsi or Coke more accurately than you do by looking at your brain activity.

Although doctors and researchers has been trying to understand our brains for quit a long time, the difference is not that companies as well as marketers are interested in our brains and this has arose some serious ethical questions (that we shall discuss later on).

In this blog, I hope to go on a journey with you into the new (and often misunderstood) new and emerging science of neuromarketing. I also hope we can discuss how advertising, and marketing has strongly helped shape the rise of modern human culture.


I’d love to know what some of your thoughts on how marketing and advertising has helped shape not only our world today, but also our psyche.