Our brain accounts for approximately 2% of our body weight but it consumes a disproportionate amount of energy. The brain actively attempts to minimise this large amount of energy being used by streamlining processing and reducing the level of conscious thought. In fact, the majority of our thinking is automatic or unconscious thought. Research tells us we can categorise our thinking into two different systems:

  1. Automatic thinking – fast, automatic, effortless and associative (System 1 Thinking)
  2. Deliberate thinking – slow, effortful and reflective (System 2 Thinking)

Both systems of thinking are active when we’re awake, however System 2 generally runs at a fraction of its capacity. So it’s System 1 that’s in continual operation, making decisions for us and informing our System 2 thinking. System 1 does this by using habit, experience, culture and emotional cues as shortcuts to making these decisions. We retrieve feelings about things and limited factual information and unconsciously put them together in a very loose fashion. There’s little deliberation and providing factual persuasion doesn’t often change these preferences. So how do we develop effective advertising for a consumer whose brain is on automatic pilot most of the time? The answer is that we need to develop solutions that acknowledge and work with System 1 thinking. Here are some suggestions: Our brains use habit, experience and emotional cues as shortcuts to make decisions. Make sure emotional cues are communicated. Factual information can be collected in a very loose manner that makes it hard to recall later. Make sure that information is presented in a succinct and simple way. Behaviour can be changed but not through logical argument alone. Make sure the communications create positive and emotional connections.