Tuesday, March 14, 2006

PR Lessons from the brain

Endless 'bargain offers' and in your face advertising and PR messages can be counter productive and that's official. In fact many of them can turn people off in a big way. We now have a much better idea of which half of the advertising budget does not work and it all comes down to empathy. No empathy half of the messages fail!

Using functional MRI technology, which measures activity in the brain, Sanfey, UA psychology graduate student Katia Harle and colleagues at Princeton University, Emory University and the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands have been watching what happens when a person is on the receiving end of what they call "The Ultimatum Game." In a lab setting, one person is given $10 cash and has the choice of how much to offer the test subject. The subject can either accept or reject the offer -- but rejecting it means neither person gets a dime.

The Ultimatum Game leads to a battle between the two brain structures. People who consistently reject unfair offers -- thereby cheating themselves and their fellow subjects of any money at all. People who accept more unfair offers tend to have the reverse pattern -- possibly because they're focused on the goal of making money.

About half the time with unfair offers, "people turn down money in order to make a point," and are prepared to make sacrifices to 'punish' organisations they perceive act unfairly.

Picture: Isaac Asimov book covers