Deeply understanding the mind to unmask the inner human

Katja Bressette
Olson Zaltman Associates, United States


For a long time academics and marketers alike believed in the “homo economicus” – the rational human being who makes decisions purely based on reason.

Other misconceptions in marketing tactics existed (and in some cases continue to persist), such as the belief that memory is fixed and unchangeable; that if consumers can be bombarded with enough messages they will accept and replay those messages without changing them, and that we are consciously aware of all our thoughts and feelings. Essentially, marketers believed that humans think first – then react / act and feel.

Insights and discoveries in the areas of cognitive neuro-science, linguistics, psychology and related academic fields show that none of these beliefs are true; that the mind is much more complex and adaptable than previously thought. Understanding these complexities is crucial in market research and marketing. We are not dealing with the homo economicus but with the “homo emoticus” – the emotional human being.