On Thinking and Not Thinking

Sep 30 2016 Published by Neil Gains under book review

Proclaimed as “The All New” Don’t Think of an Elephant, George Lakoff’s classic book has been substantially rewritten and updated to reflect contemporary issues in political debate and recent electoral history. The original book was a must read for anyone interested in behavioural science, communication (or politics) and the important lessons from the first book remain, updated and expanded in this even better and more valuable book. Read more »

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Why Brainy Thinking Needs More Than A Brain

Jul 03 2015 Published by Neil Gains under behavioural change

Hopefully by now most of us realise that the mind versus body problem is a quaint notion from the past, when we mistakenly believed that our minds floated in some ether disconnected from the real world. The idea of embodied cognition, that the brain is in fact only a central switching point for the central nervous system to send constant feedback on where we are and what we are doing.  We only learn and acquire knowledge through our body (via the senses), and we only experience the world, including emotions, feelings and experience, through this system. Read more »

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Why Our Stomach (and Brain) Can’t Count: Seven Reasons We Eat More Than We Think

Jun 18 2015 Published by Neil Gains under behavioural economics

In Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink provides a fantastic behavioural perspective on human eating habits, based on years of subtle, sophisticated and sometimes strange experiments. The book contains a long list of behavioural quirks, so I have picked seven key ideas from the book that help explain why we often eat more than we should or need to, and how we can change our environment to improve our eating habits. Read more »

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What Information Can Do For You

Dec 19 2013 Published by Neil Gains under innovation

IBM have just published their annual “5 in 5″ predictions about what may be to come inn 5 years time. This year they have focused on what information will enable us all to do in the future (which is after all at the heart of their business). The predictions are interesting reading as always and you can find a good summary here. Read more »

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Principles of Design #28 – Hick’s Law

Aug 31 2011 Published by Neil Gains under design

Tired of too much choice?

In the last post I wrote about the effects of decision fatigue, and its bad effect on the quality of decisions that we make in life.  Hick’s Law is a common principle of design, and is the design consequence that the time it takes to make a decision increases as the number of alternatives increase (a common sight in today’s retail landscape). The law itself is used to estimate the time it will take someone to make a decision when presented with multiple options. Although this has everyday consequences, outlined clearly and sympathetically in Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice, it also has very serious consequences in emergency situations. For example, when a pilot has to press a particular button in response to an event, then the decision to select the correct button will take longer when there are more options. Read more »

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The Truth About Brand Research

Jul 13 2011 Published by Neil Gains under branding

The truth about brand research

“Always within an arm’s reach of desire.”  - Robert Woodruff (former chairman of Coca-Cola)

Being available

Let me give away the punch line of this article in my first line: the secret of great marketing is to make your brand easy to buy.  Making brands easy to buy means building mental availability (through building salient mental connections) and physical availability (breadth and depth of distribution).   Sadly, many marketers and almost all researchers operate under false assumptions about how marketing and advertising work, and make the following mistakes: Read more »

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Principles of Design #15 – Threat Detection

Mar 12 2011 Published by Neil Gains under design

The snake in the grass

We are all born with automatic detection systems, designed to help us spot danger in our environment.  We are able to find threatening stimuli much more quickly than non-threatening stimuli, and this has evolutionary origins and selective advantage for us (for example, it’s more important to see a small snake in the grass than a small bird in the sky).  The seminal work on the phenomenon by William James dates back more than 100 years. Read more »

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Where Can We Find Solitude?

Dec 27 2010 Published by Neil Gains under simplicity

“Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone.” – Octavio Paz

“We are rarely proud when we are alone.”  - Voltaire Read more »

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Does Training Work?

Dec 03 2010 Published by Neil Gains under learning

“Hire character, train skill.”  - Peter Schutz

I was asked recently, “what is the value of training?”  After recovering from the challenge of the question, we had a great discussion of my friend’s perceptions of training (which were negative based on recent experiences) and of how effective training could be different.  This led to a discussion of how to measure the impact of training, for which there is one key reference (and deservedly so). Read more »

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Rewiring Learning

Jul 30 2010 Published by admin under learning

“Experience is the teacher of all things.”  - Julius Caesar

“I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”  - Pablo Picasso

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