How the brain really works

I just finished reading an interesting article in the British publication, Prospect:Left Brain, Right Brain.” It was a summary of the latest research on how the brain works and how it influences decision making.

Here is an excerpt from the closing paragraph. “Altruism makes us happy. Supportive communities create better people. Inequality and stigma rob us of potential. Good guidance helps us make wise decisions for the long term. All these seem commonsense conclusions, all are now based on evidence.”

While the focus of the article is more on social and political implications, it is also thought-provoking for a marketer. Here are three questions that I took away that are worth pondering:

  1. If humans are willing to make sub-optimal long-term decisions for the benefit of immediate gratification, how do marketers of products or services with delayed or long-term benefits compete effectively?
  2. If the subconscious brain makes decisions before the conscious brain does, how do marketers with rational value propositions also connect at the intuitive and emotional level?
  3. If we “are susceptible to undue optimism and risk-taking when things are going well, and excessive pessimism and caution when they are not,” how should marketing messages change (or not) during the the emotional roller coaster periods such as the one we are in now?

For those of you who enjoy learning about brain science and decision making, what other articles or books are worth reading?