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The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely

Nobody is doing more to add to our knowledge of the irrational side of human behavior than Dan Ariely. Not only does he conduct experiments that are elegant in their simplicity, but he writes about his work and that of other researchers in a highly acccessible way. Upside is the successor to the bestselling Predictably Irrational, and it takes to new topics, ranging from CEO pay to speed dating.

By |July 12th, 2011|

It Really DOES Pay to Schmooze

One of my all-time favorite TV commercials is the classic 1990 United Airlines spot that shows a manager distributing plane tickets to the sales staff so they can visit their customers in person. This was filmed in the days […]

By |January 26th, 2011|

Banking Mess: Blame Our Brains

As the current financial chaos moves toward some kind of resolution, there will no doubt be plenty of Monday morning quarterbacking to explain what went wrong. One group that one wouldn’t expect to have explanations are neuroscientists. As it turns out, neuroscience researchers actually can shed some light on why things went so wrong.

One of the first questions that everyone asks is how so many seemingly intelligent people could make so many errors in judgment. One simple answer, of course, is greed – at least some individuals saw a way to profit personally by making poor business decisions (loaning money to people unlikely to be able to pay it back, insuring such loans, rating securities based on these shaky loans, and so on). While there’s little doubt in my mind that personal interest was the biggest underlying factor, systemic factors and even biology likely played a role. By systemic factors I mean the way many of these markets were structured. Writing a shaky loan sounds like a bad business decision, but if there are buyers for loans of this type perhaps it really isn’t a bad decision for the originator. But, on to the brain science… […]

By |September 26th, 2008|

Sway: More Irrationality

Book Review: Sway – The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
We love irrational behavior here at Neuromarketing – when humans act in illogical and unexpected ways, that behavior provides clues to their real motivations. This understanding may, in turn, also help marketers develop products and promotions better suited to the real needs and desires of their customers. Plus, it’s fun to write about the funny things we rational humans do in real life. […]

By |August 5th, 2008|

B2B Marketing: Play Fair, Maximize Profit

Businesses are often portrayed as rapacious partners, seeking to squeeze every penny out of their deals. Indeed, some are… the result is often a relationship between defined by a fat contract that seeks to protect both parties against bad behavior by the other. New research, which draws on both conventional research and brain-scan driven neuroeconomics studies, reaches the surprising conclusion that fairness is the key to maximizing profits: […]

By |March 18th, 2008|

Better Giving Through Chemistry: Oxytocin Drives Generosity

There’s more proof that the hormone oxytocin is an important factor in our social behavior. Previously, the brain chemical was shown to be associated with trust (see Building Trust: Chemical Neuromarketing). Now, researcher Paul Zak, a professor of economics and director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, has shown that subjects who inhaled oxytocin gave away 80% more money than subjects who inhaled a placebo. […]

By |November 8th, 2007|

Penalty Pain: How to Make Your Customers Hate You

Neuromarketing readers are by now familiar with the idea of “buying pain” or “pain of paying” – when we buy something, the pain center in our brain can be activated. Work by Carnegie Mellon’s George Loewenstein and others shows that this effect is greatest when the price is perceived to be high or unfair. Buying a pack of gum for $10 would be a lot more “painful” than spending 50 cents for the same item. One wonders how painful paying multiple $40 bounced check fees would be, particularly if you knew your bank processed the largest checks first to ensure the maximum number of bounces. […]

By |November 5th, 2007|

High Testosterone Marketing


How does marketing to high-testosterone males differ from pitching their lower testosterone counterparts? And who are those testosterone-rich individuals?

Recent neuroeconomics research gives us some clues. As reported in the New Scientist, Harvard researcher Terry Burnham tested male […]

By |July 12th, 2007|


A post by Josh Wright on the Truth on the Market blog, Rubenstein on Behavioral Economics, called my attention to a year-old paper by Ariel Rubinstein of the school of Economics at Tel Aviv University and the Department […]

By |January 3rd, 2007|

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By |December 28th, 2006|