How Apple and Nike have branded your brain

Powerful branding can not only change how you feel about a company, it can actually change how your brain is wired.

  • Powerful branding can not only change how you feel about a company, it can actually change how your brain is wired.
  • "We love to think of ourselves as rational. That's not how it works," says UPenn professor Americus Reed II about our habits (both conscious and subconscious) of paying more for items based primarily on the brand name. Effective marketing causes the consumer to link brands like Apple and Nike with their own identity, and that strong attachment goes deeper than receipts.
  • Using MRI, professor and neuroscientist Michael Platt and his team were able to see this at play. When reacting to good or bad news about the brand, Samsung users didn't have positive or negative brain responses, yet they did have "reverse empathy" for bad news about Apple. Meanwhile, Apple users showed a "brain empathy response for Apple that was exactly what you'd see in the way you would respond to somebody in your family."
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Why “survival of the fittest” is wrong

He's studied apes for 50 years - here's what most people get wrong.

  • Frans de Waal has studied the behavior of primates for five decades. Some of his many important observations center around the evolution of morality and just how much we have in common with the animal kingdom.
  • The idea that animals are always in conflict with one another and competing for resources is "totally wrong," de Waal says.
  • Other primates, specifically chimpanzees and bonobos, have demonstrated a range of traits and tendencies typically regarded as human, including empathy, friendship, reconciliation, altruism, and even adoption.

The science behind ‘us vs. them’

Humans may have evolved to be tribalistic. Is that a bad thing?

  • From politics to every day life, humans have a tendency to form social groups that are defined in part by how they differ from other groups.
  • Neuroendocrinologist Robert Sapolsky, author Dan Shapiro, and others explore the ways that tribalism functions in society, and discuss how—as social creatures—humans have evolved for bias.
  • But bias is not inherently bad. The key to seeing things differently, according to Beau Lotto, is to "embody the fact" that everything is grounded in assumptions, to identify those assumptions, and then to question them.

Moral enhancement explained: Can science make us better people?

Could a pill make you more moral? Should you take it if it could?

  • Moral enhancement is the idea that technology can be used to make us more moral people.
  • Proponents argue that we need to be better people in order to solve global problems.
  • Ideas on how to use this ethically abound, but no solid consensus exists yet.
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How gratitude makes you more attractive

Social interactions are important for building the strongest relationships.

  • When someone says thank you, who is it for? According to Dr. Sara Algoe, expressions of gratitude have a positive effect on the person receiving the message, the person delivering it, and even those who witness the exchange. These types of social interactions are crucial for building lasting relationships with romantic partners, friends, and coworkers.
  • "When we say 'thank you,' we're sending a message to the person who just did something nice for us, that they are valued, that they're seen, that the thing that they did for us was worth doing in the first place," Algoe says.
  • Expressing gratitude is easy, and the research shows that the benefits far outweigh the effort.

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