What Drives Our Decisions and Why?
The most efficient model for understanding the brain in terms of its evolutionary history is the famous triune brain theory developed, in the 1960s, by the brilliant American physician and neuroscientist, Paul D. MacLean.
According to his theory, the following three distinct brains emerged successively in the course of evolution and now co-inhabit the human skull: the neocortex, limbic system, and reptilian brain.
However, the biological functioning of our brain is made up of just two:
1. The limbic system is found at the center of the brain and is the evolutionary older area that is responsible for emotions, behavior, long-term memory, value judgments, and decision-making.
“Some of the key emotions that are important for this conversation are motivation, feelings, trust and loyalty.”
2. The neocortex is found at the outer shell of the brain and is the newer, homosapien brain that is responsible for rationalizing, analytical thoughts, and language.
“Interestingly, the limbic system, or “the emotional brain,” has absolutely no capacity for language.”
It is this theory that begins to give us clear insight into why people make decisions based on the way they ‘feel’, from the ‘heart’ or just from following their ‘gut instincts’. It is important to understand that it is not at all our ‘gut’ and it is not even ‘instinct’. Instead, it is our limbic system that is making the decision that just has not yet been processed through the neocortex; therefore, people just get a ‘feeling’ and are forced to use their ‘intuition’ when they do not have enough information from the neocortex in the form of facts and other analytical determinants to complete their decision making process.
Remembering the theory, people rationalize their feelings and value judgments with the things you say and do but these facts and figures alone, processed through the neocortex, do not ultimately drive decisions. Instead, the deep-rooted feelings and value judgments accompanied by those same facts and figures are what are ultimately responsible for all human behavior and decision-making.
Summarizing — the resulting facts and figures from the neocortex should merely reinforce those feelings originating from the limbic system. ‘Intuition’ will then be strengthened when those resulting thoughts are coming from the neocortex. People need to have a higher lever of understanding of ‘how’ you do what you do and most importantly, ‘why’ you do what you do. If your facts, figures, and pricing align with your higher level views and if those people believe what you believe, then and only then will you have a life long connection with that person.
What This All Means To You?
As brand builders, if we want to achieve our goals, we need to engage our entire ecosystem in ways that appeal to and activate at the core of the brain, in the limbic system. We have to be able to connect at that non-linguistic level of the brain. We also have to plug into to that part of the brain that controls long-term memory, behavior, feelings, trust, and loyalty. We need to communicate with the decision making part of the brain directly.
We can achieve this by speaking in terms of what actually drives decisions — our beliefs and core values on the topics that we are trying to connect through, as well as being able to articulate why it is that we are even trying to engage at this deep level to begin with. This will directly communicate at that trust and loyalty level of brain, found within the limbic system.
Too often companies talk about the facts and figures to motivate their audiences. And too often those conversations fall on deaf ears. But companies who speak to the vision, who understand why they are engaged to begin with, and who can clearly articulate the results of that thinking, will allow their team members and customers to make that cause their own, forming an instant connection with that brand.
What This All Means To Juplix?
This process is delicate and it takes time, effort, and consistency but the results of this theory connect deeply with us at our core at Juplix. Once a brand understands why it exists, all the decisions that define it become intuitive. Simply memorizing a set of mission statements found online will only get you so far. Good brands know what they stand for but great brands know why.