Synthetic Fear: How to Make a Scary Movie

Over the years, movie-makers have tried to go beyond what’s on the screen to scare theatergoers. In the 1950s, director William Castle startled those viewing his horror films, notably The Tingler, with gimmicks like vibrators installed under some theater seats. When the creature escapes into a theater in the movie, Vincent Price’s voice warns the [...]

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Are Political Views Hard-wired?

We know that political marketing – the art of persuading voters to support your candidate – is perhaps the most challenging and least productive form of marketing. A couple of years ago in The Neuroscience of Political Marketing, I described how research shows that political ads seem to go through an “emotional filter” that, in [...]

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Fear Factor Branding: The Best Ad Placement Ever

One of the interesting tricks our brains play on us is to transfer physiological and emotional states that we are experiencing to something else going on at the same time. In Sway, authors Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman describe one of the more unusual experiments in behavior I’ve seen. In fact, it sounds like the [...]

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Pain, Fear, and Vicarious Learning

Why do people react with fear when they see a snake, even though they have never been bitten by a snake or even had much contact with the reptiles? New research shows that the same areas of the brain that react to a personal experience involving pain or fear also react to watching someone else [...]

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The Dread Zone: Anticipating Pain

Neuroscientists have used fMRI to discover that the brain’s anticipation of pain can be as bad as actually experiencing the pain. Marketers should use pain references carefully.

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