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What is Priming? A Psychological Look at Priming & Consumer Behavior

What is Priming? A Psychological Look at Priming & Consumer Behavior

As you’ve probably realized, various tenets of psychology are crucial to effective marketing. After all, psychology is about understanding human behavior and marketing is about applying that knowledge. There are many factors that influence this behavior, and while at least part of the human decision-making process is conscious, many of these factors influence behavior at a nonconscious level. As we have discussed previously on this blog, personality traits can serve as nonconscious motivations of behavior. In this post, I will introduce the psychological concept of priming, which can also have not-so-subtle influences on human behavior.

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3 Ways to Optimize Product Pricing with Psychology


 

3 Ways to Optimize Product Pricing with Psychology

 

Have you ever wondered how companies and retailers set their prices? If you’ve ever taken an economics class, your go-to answer is probably something about supply-and-demand, right? While these laws certainly have a large influence over pricing, another realm of study does as well: psychology. In this blog post, I'll introduce how to optimize product pricing with Psychology with three case studies.   

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What is psychometrics?


What is psychometrics?

We’re all aware that individuals are unique and not everyone likes the same things. This uniqueness comes directly into play in the field of marketing. Since no two people are identical, marketing is about grouping and targeting. That is, higher levels of marketing success arise if you know who to target and how to target them instead of targeting everyone with a generic message. This necessity for specificity means targeting is essentially an empirical question that requires some form of measurement. Consumer behavior is ultimately a result of psychological processes and thus is an optimal target for measurement. Many people don’t think of individual or group characteristics as quantifiable entities, but they can be. Indeed, once you develop a method of quantification, objective grouping based on numbers becomes much easier and more reliable than subjective grouping based on descriptions of consumer traits. Clearly not all measurement is good measurement, so then the question becomes: “How should this measurement be done?” This is where psychometrics comes in.

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Psychological Traits vs. Personality Type Theory


Psychological Traits vs. Personality Type Theory

In order to successfully sell a product you have to know who to sell it to. Therefore, being able to accurately characterize consumers is a crucial goal of marketing and consumer behavior research. But interest in creating these characterizations exists outside just the marketing world: developing systematic ways of describing people and their personalities has been a goal of psychology from its early days. From the begining,  personality traits and personality types have been understood to serve different purposes in research. Over the years there have been many different theories regarding what personality is, how it arises and how we can categorize it. For example, Sigmund Freud was a proponent of psychodynamic theories, suggesting that personality is influenced by the unconscious and the progression through psychosexual stages, and B.F. Skinner advocated for behavioral theories that view personality as a result of individual interactions with the environment. One important (and ongoing) dichotomy in beliefs in this field is between type theory and trait theory. Like other theories in personality psychology, these two approaches attempt to systematically categorize people, but go about this goal in different ways.

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Psych4Marketers: 3 Techniques to Better Understand Consumer Behavior


Psych4Marketers: 3 Techniques to Better Understand Consumer Behavior

The realm of marketing is, at the most basic level, about figuring people out. Doing so certainly involves understanding and analyzing individual differences between consumers (a topic we have focused on before), but marketing and advertising has deep roots in capitalizing on some predictable facets of consumer behavior. Here, we will look at three of these “tried and true” techniques from the perspective of psychology to better understand the rationale behind them.

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Evolution of Personality: Environmental Variation


Evolution of Personality: Environmental Variation

In last week’s blog post, I addressed the evolutionary genetics of personality and the genetic contributions to variation in personality traits. In this post, I would like to examine a different phenomenon, namely how the same genes can lead to different non-random variation in personality. If we want to understand how traits work as motivations, we need to understand how they evolved. Let’s briefly review some very simple models of how variation can link to genetics. In one model, variation in personality is due simply to people having different combinations of genes: People with gene A tend to be extroverts, while people with gene B tend to be introverts. This kind of model could represent what biologists call an obligate adaptation (a gene causes a trait in a fixed manner). However, people with the same genes may develop very different personalities if they are put in the same environment, through what is referred to as facultative adaptations (genes create mechanisms which develop in different ways in different environments, or different genes are turned on in different environments). Facultative adaptations are like “if-then” rules, as everyone tends to have the same genes; but if they develop in one environment, they create one characteristic (say, extraversion), and if they develop in another environment, they lead to another characteristic (say, introversion).

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Evolution of Personality: Genetic Variation


Evolution of Personality: Genetic Variation

Human personality differences may seem natural and obvious, but the individual differences that underlie personality pose an unobvious and deep mystery. Human psychology is a product of natural selection, a process which typically makes traits universal, and eliminates major genetic variation (e.g., human anatomy is so universal and consistent across people that one book, Gray’s Anatomy, describes us all). The variation inherent in the individual differences of personality, thus presents a paradox: How can a process which eliminates variation, lead to universal dimensions of variation across people?

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How Psychological Traits Drive Buying Decisions

How Psychological Traits Drive Buying Decisions

In last week’s blog post, I argued that personality traits can be conceived of as “chronic motivations”, and that such a conceptualization shows how they can be used to uncover the true motivations behind consumer behavior. This week I’m going to expand upon this theme by arguing that there are, at least, two general pathways for such motivations to be realized, and make some suggestions on how to tell the two apart.

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