Brainy Marketing: From Deaf Turtles to Dirty Money


It’s been a while since I posted excerpts and links to my Brainy Marketing content at, so to avoid content overload I’ll do it over a series of several posts. First installment:

Why Your Next CEO Shouldn’t Be American

foreign language effectRecruiting for a key management position in the U.S.? Consider hiring a candidate whose native language isn’t English. While American companies with substantial international operations may place a value on global savoir-faire, there’s another compelling reason to consider a non-native candidate: research shows that we behave more rationally when we think in another language.

Management blunders are often caused by behavior that is less than rational. Executives protect pet projects, stick with strategies that are clearly failing, become swept up in passing fads, or can’t bring themselves to make difficult personnel changes – all irrational and emotion-driven decisions. Read more…

Deaf Turtles, Persuasive Pictures

Deaf turtle?I actually have no idea how well turtles can hear, if at all, but a new study shows that you are more likely to agree with that statement if it is accompanied by a photo of a turtle. Even though a portrait of the hard-shelled reptile sheds no light on its hearing ability, the mere presence of the photo makes the statement seem more believable.

The research was done at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, where scientists tested a variety of statements whose truthfulness would be uncertain for most subjects. For example, they had people judge whether a lesser celebrity was alive or dead. Read more…

Yes, You Really Can Smell Emotions

face emotionWe all have a better sense of smell than we give ourselves credit for. Over the years, there has been considerable research showing that humans have the ability to detect emotional and physical states with their noses, even though they may not be consciously aware of what they are sensing. Babies identify their mother by smell, and men’s testosterone levels rise when they sniff a t-shirt worn by an ovulating woman. Now, there’s new research showing that emotions can be communicated by “chemosignals.” Read more…

Dirty Money Spends Faster

CurrencyHere’s one from the odd-but-true department: we are more likely to spend old, soiled money faster than crisp, new notes. You might object that this makes no sense at all – twenty dollars is twenty dollars, right? If fact, new research from Canadian scientists show that we are more likely to spend or gamble with currency that is old and worn.

We think of money as being infinitely interchangeable. Any $5 bill is equivalent to any other. Five $20 bills are the same as one $100 bill. Unfortunately, it’s not true, at least from the standpoint of human behavior. We tend to spend small bills faster than large bills. So, if your wallet is full of $5 bills you’ll likely buy more stuff than if you have the same amount of money in larger bills. The magnitude of the difference in spending rates is startling. Read more…

How Behavioral Science Propelled Obama’s Win

obamaPundits have been analyzing why Obama won the 2012 election, not to mention how Romney’s strategies led to a loss. One area that has received scant attention is the use of behavioral science and consumer persuasion techniques in the Obama campaign.

A group that calls itself “COBS,” for “consortium of behavioral scientists,” was one part of Obama’s winning marketing strategy. Benedict Carey of the New York Times reports that a “dream team” of behavior researchers offered input and even helped create scripts for the Obama campaign. Read More…

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