The Reptilian Brain and the Customer's Decision-Making Process

Did you know that humans lived under the influence of the reptilian brain, the oldest part of the brain? The reptilian brain, which directly affects the unconscious processes of the consumer, is survival-oriented. Therefore, it cannot detect complex messages. Many jobs in the advertising industry are done without considering the unconscious reactions of the consumer.

The Reptilian Brain and the Customer's Decision-Making Process
Reading Time 4 min / Publish Date - 26.03.2023

Introducing: Brain

The weight of the brain, which is responsible for all voluntary or involuntary behaviors in humans, is 2% of the body. On the other hand, it consumes 20% of the whole body’s energy. This is a very high rate considering all the rest of the body’s activities.

The consciously used part of the brain also covers an area of 20%. The remaining 80% of the brain provides the functions necessary for human survival. These functions are carried out unconsciously by the brain without the person even being aware of it.


Reptilian Brain and Decision-Making Mechanisms

Humans live under the influence of the R-Complex, the oldest part of the brain called the reptilian (lizard) brain. This part of the brain has evolved over millions of years and cannot perceive complex messages.

Over the centuries, people have learned a lot about survival. What they learned was ingrained into their genes. Thus, the primitive brain, or the reptilian brain, automatically carried out many basic activities for humans at the level of reflexes. (Morin, 2011; Lieberman, 2000; Maclean, 1990)


Consumer Perception

The reptilian brain has a survival-oriented structure. Therefore, it makes people selfish. He makes his job easier with the mental shortcuts he creates. Otherwise, the brain will have to focus and think about every subject. Therefore, the brain will need more energy and will quickly consume body resources. This is why we often make decisions not with rational information, but with mental shortcuts and emotions.

Man is a creature programmed to survive by nature. So nothing is more important than this purpose. Not all attention can be diverted to the topic of interest due to the constant scanning of potential threats in the environment. (Morin, 2011) This prevents us from using full capacity due to existential reasons, the 20% of which we consciously use.


Visual Cortex


Visual Cortex

The reptilian brain can also process visual stimuli without the need for the Visual Cortex area of the brain. (Morin, 2011) In other words, people respond to visual content more than words or experiences. Do you perceive an article easily or is it an image that expresses the whole meaning of the article? Due to the increasing visual pollution in digital areas in recent years, the relationship between the visual cortex and neuromarketing attracts more attention in the field of advertising.

While all snowflakes are different, they are similar. Apart from the values built by society, people also have basic innate characteristics that are similar to each other. These features are more related to our reptilian brain. For example, some facial expressions of people who live in different countries and have never seen each other are similar. Their reactions to various emotions, such as pain or joy, are also similar.


So what is the effect of all this on advertising?

Despite the above information, big mistakes can be made in this context in the field of advertising. The commercial or visual work is designed intuitively, ignoring the unconscious reactions of the consumer.

In creative processes, texts or images placed with the logic of "let also point out", "I think this girl suits the ad better" or "let's make the logo a little bigger" can prevent the main message of the ad from reaching the consumer. Accordingly, all that investment and planning is wasted when an unnecessary detail on the advertisement steals the attention of the consumer.

In short, the rules of visual communication come from one's nature. Therefore, if you are making a communication construct based on human beings, you should not ignore human nature!

If you are interested in unconscious reflexes, we recommend you to read our Mirror Neuron and Its Effect on Advertising.

In unconscious psychology, it is a process that a person experiences instinctively. It refers to actions and activities that are done as a result of habit and reflex and that are not directed by consciousness. It occupies a separate and wider place in the inner world of the person than the conscious and subconscious.

Visual Cortex Neuromarketing Advertising Communication Consumer Perception

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