The Six Primal Pillars Of The Human Brain

The Six Primal Pillars Of The Human Brain

October 26th, 2015

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As much as we like to convince ourselves we’re thinking machines complete with emotions, in actuality, we’re emotional machines who, on occasion, think! That’s not splitting hairs—it’s really quite a difference.

Our human brains revolve around what I call Six Primal Pillars: survival, safety, security, sustenance, sex and status. These six “s” terms play a huge role in our unconscious behavior. Keep in mind, unconscious means “nonthinking”. As tempting as it is to believe we think things through before we act or buy, we are more often than not simply allowing our unconscious mind to lead us around like a mouse on the hunt for cheese.

Sigmund Freud revolutionized the field of human psychology with the idea of the three part man: the id, ego and super ego. In the 1960’s, equally as impacting, was neurobiologist Paul Mac Lean’s theory that the human brain is composed of three parts: the physical brain, the emotional brain and the thinking brain. For years we believed our behaviors began in the thinking brain and worked through the emotional until arriving finally at the physical—or reptilian brain—the location of all base behaviors. We realize now, we got it all wrong; it is the exact opposite. Our reptilian brain (subconscious behavior) is the conductor of the train with our emotional brain not far behind. Lastly, and much to our surprise, comes the rational part of our brain. The point is this: we act more on emotion than logic and rational thinking.

The first challenge is to interrupt the viewer’s mental pattern. Like the Energizer Bunny, the Sitagin Hemorrhoid commercial and the little boy dressed as Darth Vader in “The Force”  Volkswagen commercial, these images reach past our subconscious. Much of the time our minds are on autopilot… dominated by our unconscious mind. In order to grab someone’s attention, you must do something different to instantly take the brain out of autopilot and into focused attention. The next step is to use a primal pillar to reengage the emotional part of the mind.

As a marketer of your product, you need to remember to appeal to the six primal pillars mentioned above. Do that and your marketing will supersede the logic of the rational brain, activating the primal instincts of the reptilian brain first. If you’re lucky, the primal instincts of your audience will react before their rational brain kicks in. That’s why you ate that donut this morning!

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