“Brain researchers estimate that your unconscious database outweighs the conscious on an order exceeding ten million to one. This database is the source of your hidden, natural genius. In other words, a part of you is much smarter than you are. The wise people regularly consult that smarter part.” – Michael J. Gelb
In recent experiments at UCLA, measurements of unconscious brain activity where better predictors of behaviour than asking the subjects directly: brain scans were more predictive of future purchase behaviour than survey questions. In the experiment, subjects were exposed to public service messages (advertisements) encouraging them to use sunscreen. Brain scans measuring activity in one part of the prefrontal cortex provided better correlation with later behaviour than typical market research questions, indicating that subjects’ unconscious brains knew better than their conscious counterparts the likely behavioural reaction to the message. This is the part of the brain associated with self-reflection – where we think about the things we like and dislike.
Previous posts have discussed how much we really know about our own desires, and this research is further confirmation that much of what drives our choices may be hidden from our conscious mind (and therefore hidden from direct questioning). We cannot assume that consumers always have the answer, even if asked the right question.