Conditioning & The Little Albert Case
In 1920, one of the most important and controversial psychology case studies took place at Johns Hopkins University. It came to be known as the Little Albert case. A brief explanation:
Behavior psychologist, John Watson, attempted to instill a certain fear in one of his nurse's children, 11 month old Albert, by giving him a white fluffy rat to play with. However, every time little Albert reached for the rat, Watson would bang metal pots and pans as loudly as he could next to the baby, startling him. This was repeated several times over several days with different items. Through a process called conditioning, Albert eventually began to associate anything white and fluffy with the banging of the pots and pans, making him terrified to see ANYTHING resembling the rat. Allegedly, this fear was permanently instilled in Albert and was not able to be reversed before he was removed from the program, although no one can verify this as Albert's true identity was kept a secret.
Ethics aside, this experiment taught psychologists a lot and marketers even more: Our brains can be re-hardwired through repetition.
Look at Coca-Cola. Most people know "Have a Coke and a smile."
This tactic could, in a sense, count as subliminal advertising. "Share a Coke and a smile" is a pretty straightforward slogan, but the constant stream of ads on tv, billboards and the internet, cause us to develop an association of Coke and happiness
In other words, Coke's inundation of ads is conditioning us to believe if we have a Coke, we must be happy. One of the biggest takeaways from Coke's successful marketing strategy is that consistency will build a brand.
Asch Conformity Study
The study went as follows: The subjects were given three lines of various lengths and asked which ones were the longest. Simple, however, all but one subject would unanimously choose the wrong answer on purpose. Due to peer pressure, most subjects answered incorrectly as well and even attempted to justify their answers, despite how painfully obvious it was that they were wrong.
To say the least, these results reflect that humans are actually quite passive creatures and other people greatly influence our decisions. This isn't to say we will do anything we are told though, or does it?
Milgram Obedience Experiments
In the Milgram Obedience experiments, scientists told subjects on one side of a wall that someone on the other side was hooked up to a shock system. The person hooked up to the system was asked questions and for each wrong answer, the subject performing the shocks would increase the voltage. Despite the agonizing screams of pain from the person being shocked and the distress of the subject administrating the shocks, 65% of participants continued as commanded until the other participant was "dead." (In actuality it was just an actor).
People listen to authority at surprising lengths because humans are creatures which seek approval. If you want to be taken seriously by employees, competitors and consumers alike, you need to look and sound the part. That's what marketing is - understanding how to position your brand message and communicate it clearly to current and prospective employees and customers.
Position yourself as the authority figure in your field/niche and people will listen. To keep them listening, your actions must speak louder than words. Eventually, people will see this, respect this, and conform, follow, and embrace your message.
Influence is all around us, and you are an influencer too. Ask how NLC can help you find your differentiator and help you be the authority of your industry.