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Moist Robots and Emotion Versus Logic

People are irrational animals. In fact, there are a lot of scientists who believe we don’t even have free will. Scott Adams calls us “moist robots” because we merely react to our programming and stimulus.

Is it any surprise then other moist robots decisions confuse the heck out of us?

The fact is in most decisions emotion trumps logic. Even decisions that we think were arrived at via rational thought usually have a large element of emotion.

We are wired to listen to our hearts and guts over our brains. Perhaps in the past it helped us get away faster from massive, snarly things with sharp pointy teeth?

What were your biggest or most important financial decisions of the last decade? I am guessing amongst them will be:

  • Your home
  • Your car
  • Your career
  • Your vacations

How often did emotion factor hugely in the final reckoning? How you feel is a powerful factor in how you think.

I was reminded of this the other day when discussing with my Dad about his dentist. He has been visiting this dentist as long as I can remember. As soon as I had a say in the decision I was out of there. This man botched more operations than I was prepared to put up with. Most memorably I had to have another dentist sort out the mess he made of two attempts at root canal. Two! That’s three root canal operations all together! On the same area!

But my Dad still goes there. He has this loyalty thing going on. Dad likes the way the dentist knows him, he knows the dentist. They have nice conversations … while he overcharges him for bad dental work. Grrr.

No argument from me is going to change my Dads mind. In fact I might be pushing him into a more entrenched position.

What can we learn about this? Well, apart from the fact my Dad is loyal to the point of being stubborn, there are a couple of takeaways:

  1. Appeal to emotion as well as logic – Rather than a simple set of features in your argument, you need to put those across in a way that will appeal to a persons emotional needs.
  2. Feelings count more than we think – Many of our loyalties and purchases come down more to how they make us feel than what we actually get. I like Starbucks atmosphere as well as the drinks. I bought a Mac laptop without considering if it had good performance versus a Dell. Our house was more expensive and less convenient than other similarly featured properties in the area. How are you making your audience feel?
  3. The more you push the more entrenched opinions become – You can’t change an opinion with force. In fact, you can’t often change opinions. What you can do is work with the persons existing opinions and show there is a better way.

Picture cropped from an original photograph by Matt

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Comments

  1. Now this is a more ‘humanistic’ approach to things. The cool thing with all of this is, whether we like it or not, we are a mix of both; rational and irrational behavior. It’s just a matter of striking a balance between or choosing which one to dominate our personality.

  2. Now this is a more ‘humanistic’ approach to things. The cool thing with all of this is, whether we like it or not, we are a mix of both; rational and irrational behavior. It’s just a matter of striking a balance between or choosing which one to dominate our personality.

  3. I was reading just yesterday (and now can’t recall where, sorry) that the human tendency is to make our decisions based on emotion… and to create a logical rationale for that decision, after the fact.

  4. I was reading just yesterday (and now can’t recall where, sorry) that the human tendency is to make our decisions based on emotion… and to create a logical rationale for that decision, after the fact.

  5. Dominate maybe, but as said, there is no independence free of the influence of emotion at some point in the chain. Even if you base a new ‘rational’ decision on past experience (sucess, failure), that experience was influenced by emotion, too.

    Good post! Too true… Like the ‘moist robot’ analogy.

  6. Dominate maybe, but as said, there is no independence free of the influence of emotion at some point in the chain. Even if you base a new ‘rational’ decision on past experience (sucess, failure), that experience was influenced by emotion, too.

    Good post! Too true… Like the ‘moist robot’ analogy.

  7. The chances are that a lot of the rise of internet shopping is because customers don’t want an emotional attachment with the merchant and actively avoid it when they don’t want it. For a lot of commodities like CDs you just want to buy the cheapest with the fastest availability.

  8. The chances are that a lot of the rise of internet shopping is because customers don’t want an emotional attachment with the merchant and actively avoid it when they don’t want it. For a lot of commodities like CDs you just want to buy the cheapest with the fastest availability.

  9. Hello Chris,
    I followed a link here on Blogging for Business by Ted Demopoulos (I mention that because I always like to know where my readers are coming from). Your post “Moist Robots” really resonates with me from a marketing standpoint. It reminds me of an old sales aphorism “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” I wonder what got your dad to visit that particular dentist in the first place? I agree that emotion is connected to everything we do on some level.
    Thanks for the thought prevoking article and come by and visit me on http://www.elementaltruths.com when you get the chance.
    Reg Adkins

  10. Hello Chris,
    I followed a link here on Blogging for Business by Ted Demopoulos (I mention that because I always like to know where my readers are coming from). Your post “Moist Robots” really resonates with me from a marketing standpoint. It reminds me of an old sales aphorism “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” I wonder what got your dad to visit that particular dentist in the first place? I agree that emotion is connected to everything we do on some level.
    Thanks for the thought prevoking article and come by and visit me on http://www.elementaltruths.com when you get the chance.
    Reg Adkins

  11. Anthony Robbins gave a great speech about our decision process at the TED Talks your can see it here :
    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/96

  12. Anthony Robbins gave a great speech about our decision process at the TED Talks your can see it here :
    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/96

  13. Hello Chris:

    I’m sold :), perhaps not a surprise because I blog about Emotional Intelligence. We’ve been educated to think in an either/or way, when the key to being effective and happy is to combine logic and emotion.

    Our emotions are another form of data, just like our logic/reason Scientists tell us that we have a brain in our stomach. It’s called the enteric nervous system and is the source of th gut feeling that we often rely on.

    The content of your blog is great, yet I suggest that part of your success is because of the emotional climate you create by being very personable and welcoming.

  14. Hello Chris:

    I’m sold :), perhaps not a surprise because I blog about Emotional Intelligence. We’ve been educated to think in an either/or way, when the key to being effective and happy is to combine logic and emotion.

    Our emotions are another form of data, just like our logic/reason Scientists tell us that we have a brain in our stomach. It’s called the enteric nervous system and is the source of th gut feeling that we often rely on.

    The content of your blog is great, yet I suggest that part of your success is because of the emotional climate you create by being very personable and welcoming.

  15. Hello Chris
    I enjoyed listening to your interveiw with Sean D’Souza on blogging and this encouraged me to visit your site. Your post on Moist Rotots and Emotion versus Logic struck a cord as I have an interest in the mind and thinking. If we believe research there are four interacting aspects of thinking, feeling, desire, and action. The facts appear to support the view that nothing happens until we think about it so the concept of choice strong except that it may be a rational or irrational one. The challenge is to find ways to encourage a person to want something by the messages we communicate so that they naturally think about acquiring it and to them it is a clearly rational selection. This is a very interesting subject you have opened as it can help people to become more rational in their thinking and choices by recognsing when they are being irrational.

  16. Hello Chris
    I enjoyed listening to your interveiw with Sean D’Souza on blogging and this encouraged me to visit your site. Your post on Moist Rotots and Emotion versus Logic struck a cord as I have an interest in the mind and thinking. If we believe research there are four interacting aspects of thinking, feeling, desire, and action. The facts appear to support the view that nothing happens until we think about it so the concept of choice strong except that it may be a rational or irrational one. The challenge is to find ways to encourage a person to want something by the messages we communicate so that they naturally think about acquiring it and to them it is a clearly rational selection. This is a very interesting subject you have opened as it can help people to become more rational in their thinking and choices by recognsing when they are being irrational.

  17. @jhay – Yes, being just aware of this part of our nature helps I think. For a start it can take some anger out of social situations

    @Jen – Yup, and scientists have found that in some cases the action is taken then the decision-making part of our brain engages, so our brain is set up to post-rationalize decisions that were never actually made!

    @Mary – Indeed, though I know people like to think they are very logical, it normally doesn’t work that way for any of us.

    @Jack – Yup but emotion comes into play with the choice of merchant, choice of product, etc etc. For example Amazon have been very good with me over the years so I will use them even if another store is a few pounds cheaper.

    @Reg – That’s exactly it, you have to sell to every sense, engage the emotions, while giving something for the rational to agree with. Sell the Sizzle reminds me of the street seller from the Terry Pratchett books 🙂

    @Dennis – Thanks for the link, I love the Ted talks!

    @Galba – Interesting about the stomach brain – so many people get “gut instincts” I wonder if that is where the saying comes from 🙂

    @Tomoso – Yeah the challenge is for the communication to flow naturally and for defenses to not be raised. Once you try to change a mind you are stuck, it’s easier to work with attitudes they already hold, but people find that much harder because it requires you listen first rather than just broadcast ever more loudly!

  18. @jhay – Yes, being just aware of this part of our nature helps I think. For a start it can take some anger out of social situations

    @Jen – Yup, and scientists have found that in some cases the action is taken then the decision-making part of our brain engages, so our brain is set up to post-rationalize decisions that were never actually made!

    @Mary – Indeed, though I know people like to think they are very logical, it normally doesn’t work that way for any of us.

    @Jack – Yup but emotion comes into play with the choice of merchant, choice of product, etc etc. For example Amazon have been very good with me over the years so I will use them even if another store is a few pounds cheaper.

    @Reg – That’s exactly it, you have to sell to every sense, engage the emotions, while giving something for the rational to agree with. Sell the Sizzle reminds me of the street seller from the Terry Pratchett books 🙂

    @Dennis – Thanks for the link, I love the Ted talks!

    @Galba – Interesting about the stomach brain – so many people get “gut instincts” I wonder if that is where the saying comes from 🙂

    @Tomoso – Yeah the challenge is for the communication to flow naturally and for defenses to not be raised. Once you try to change a mind you are stuck, it’s easier to work with attitudes they already hold, but people find that much harder because it requires you listen first rather than just broadcast ever more loudly!