I've been teaching courses about planning for a few years now, and the idea that we make decisions emotionally versus rationally tends to be a difficult pill for students to swallow. I get the feeling that this common misunderstanding could be at the heart of most client/agency disagreements about the work. It's really difficult for people who like to consider themselves or others to be free thinking, rational people, to accept the fact that they are making decisions with their gut before they get a chance to start building t-charts or crunching numbers.
This is where brands live.
Anyways, a publication that I previously only heard about in high school German class, Spiegel, interviewed Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman about the innate weakness of human thought, deceptive memories and the misleading power of intuition. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book about this, but I thought this bit from the Spiegel interview did a better job of explaining how our emotional responses are making decisions long before we start rational thought:
"SPIEGEL: You say in your book that, in such cases, we leave the decisions up to 'System 1.'
Kahneman: Yes. Psychologists distinguish between a 'System 1' and a 'System 2,' which control our actions. System 1 represents what we may call intuition. It tirelessly provides us with quick impressions, intentions and feelings. System 2, on the other hand, represents reason, self-control and intelligence.
SPIEGEL: In other words, our conscious self?
Kahneman: Yes. System 2 is the one who believes that it's making the decisions. But in reality, most of the time, System 1 is acting on its own, without your being aware of it. It's System 1 that decides whether you like a person, which thoughts or associations come to mind, and what you feel about something. All of this happens automatically. You can't help it, and yet you often base your decisions on it.
SPIEGEL: And this System 1 never sleeps?
Kahneman: That's right. System 1 can never be switched off. You can't stop it from doing its thing. System 2, on the other hand, is lazy and only becomes active when necessary. Slow, deliberate thinking is hard work. It consumes chemical resources in the brain, and people usually don't like that. It's accompanied by physical arousal, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, activated sweat glands and dilated pupils..."