Tag Archives: Motivation

All Emotions Are Not Created Equal

By David Forbes, Ph.D.

I just returned from the Insight Innovation Exchange
conference in Philadelphia, where a broad range of market research scientists
and professionals gathered to talk about techniques for emotional measurement
and emotional research. As I look back on
the three-day event, it seems that the most striking feature was the range of
diversity in both the methods proposed for studying emotions, and in the types
of phenomena under study ‘ all of them called ‘emotion.’

The study of emotions as they drive consumer behavior is
still a relatively new focus for market
researchers
. It seems important at this early point to begin clarifying the
various options for this type of research ‘ the various types of phenomena that
can be called ‘emotions.’ In our work, we focus on one particular type of
emotional force that I heard very little about at IIEX ‘ the type of emotional
force that can pull someone from their armchair at home, move them to their
automobile, and get them to a retail store to purchase a particular type of
product, hoping for a particular type of outcome from that purchase. 
Psychologists typically call this type of emotional force ‘motivation.’
I believe that it’s important that the study of motivation
occupy a central role in Market Researchers’ study of emotion ‘ for several
reasons.
Firstly, the emotional forces of Motivation are what we
should be studying when we seek to uncover new business opportunities in the
consumer lifestyle ‘ because motivational drives which are unfulfilled in a
consumer’s life represent emotional need states that can be targeted by new
product ideas.
Secondly, the emotional forces of Motivation are also what
need to be targeted by marketing strategists who wish to have a product story
that is arousing and compelling. A new product concept is far more likely to
succeed if it offers the promise of emotional benefits that speak to consumer
lifestyle aspirations and frustrations. And finally the emotional forces of
Motivation should be the target of communication impact for advertisers who
want their messages to become a call to action.
Motivations vs. other
emotions
Motivations can be distinguished from other types of
emotion in part because they derive from forces inside the individual, rather
than being primarily ‘reactive’ to outside stimuli. We all carry around inside
us two distinct forms of motivational forces. One type consists of
aspirations that we have to make our experience of life better ‘ a desire for
outcomes which psychology calls ‘positive reinforcement.’ The other type
consists of frustrations that we experience in life which, drive us to seek
relief ‘ that drive for what psychology calls ‘negative reinforcement.’ In
my recent paper in the Review of General Psychology, I’ve attempted
to summarize a great deal of research
on these motives, developing a unified model that identifies nine distinct
types of motivating emotional forces, each of which can be manifest as an
aspiration for positive outcomes, or a search for relief from frustration of
negative situations.
Clearly the concept of emotion can take several other forms
aside from the emotions of motivation. We can study general states of arousal,
we can study the various sensory-emotional states activated by experiences in
life (like excitement), we can study emotion as a pattern of vascular activity
through the technique of brain imaging, we can study physiological expression
emotional states as expressed by the facial muscles (like happiness, or
disgust). And based on my experience at IIEX, I suspect that all of these types
of emotion will continue to play a role in the work of Market Researchers.
I only hope that enough of us decide to focus on the
emotions that drive motivation, and seek to understand the aspirations and
frustrations that drive consumer choices and actions in life.
Want to learn more
about this topic? Attend TMRE 2013 in
Nashville, TN October 21-23. For details, click here:  http://bit.ly/1aOb0Zm We hope to see you
there!  
About the Author:
David Forbes holds a Ph.D. in clinical and cognitive psychology from Clark
University, and was a member of the faculties of Harvard Medical School
Department of Psychiatry and the Harvard Laboratory of Human Development before
beginning his career as a business consultant. He founded Forbes Consulting
over 20 years ago as a strategic market research consultancy dedicated to
creating business advantage through psychological consumer insights. He has
since built Forbes into a major resource for scores of major corporations in
the CPG, Financial Services, and Pharmaceuticals industries, domestically and
internationally. David is the creator of the MindSight?? emotional
assessment technologies, a suite of applied neuropsychological methods for
understanding consumer emotion and motivation, without the distortions of
conscious editing and self-presentation
.  

Understanding and Measuring the Role of Emotions in Consumer Behavior

By David Forbes, Ph.D.
In results from both business and academic research, it’s
become increasingly evident that emotions control as much or more of our
behavior than rational thinking’ And while we might use rational thoughts
(formed in the higher brain) to justify our decisions, it’s often the feelings
(from our primitive, or limbic brains) that run the show.
As these findings have begun to impact the strategies of market research, the need to uncover and understand consumer emotions in
particular parts of the lifestyle, and emotions toward particular types of
products, has grown accordingly. But developing techniques for emotional
research is a real challenge ‘ getting people to talk is often difficult. They
may not want to talk about feelings, on principle (think John Wayne), or they
may have a hard time articulating a feeling. They may be perfectly able to identify
the emotion, but not want to admit to it, even to themselves.
To get ‘under the radar’ of consumer resistance to talk
about emotions, we’ve applied some of the findings in neuroscience about image
processing to create a new tool. We created this tool ‘ which we call
MindSight?? ‘ using images, not words, and timing the exercise so consumers must
respond within what we call ‘the emotional discovery window’ that lies between
the time it takes for an emotional response to an image to begin to form
(roughly 200 milliseconds) and the time it takes for rational reflection and
processing to begin ‘ which leads to editing and distortion of those emotional
responses (one full second).

Using this tool, we have uncovered some very interesting
findings. We recently did some work for a birdseed company, looking at the
emotional motivations for using lots of birdseed. What we found was a mix of
very expected emotional facts alongside an extremely unexpected but interesting
emotional ‘aha.’
As expected, plenty of bird seed users are
through-and-through bird lovers, motivated by a desire to feel a sense of
nurturance by taking good care of their feathered friends. But we also
uncovered an unexpected (and equally large) segment, motivated by a sense of
mastery. For them, feeding the birds is aesthetic, part of taking care of their
homes. They wanted attractive birdseed that would draw impressive birds.
Cardinals, orioles and finches made a decorative statement about them, just
like the color of their home or the style of their landscaping.
In another case, we looked at the emotional reactions that
women wanted to create in their social lives. In this work we found two
distinct themes in women’s desires: one focused around being perceived as
emotionally giving ‘ relationship building and caretaking. The other focused
around being emotionally assertive and powerful ‘ communicated by a sense of
mastery and achievement. Our big ‘aha’ in this case was that the very same
women often wanted to send both of these messages. We learned a bit, I
think, about the complexity of emotions facing the challenges of modern-day
women.

The work of understanding the complexity of the emotional
machinery the drives our behavior is just getting started. We are looking
forward to using MindSight?? to decode emotional motivation across the full
richness of consumer lifestyles.

About the Author: David Forbes holds a
Ph.D. in clinical and cognitive psychology from Clark University, and was a
member of the faculties of Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry and
the Harvard Laboratory of Human Development before beginning his career as a
business consultant. He founded Forbes Consulting over 20 years ago as
a strategic market research consultancy dedicated to creating business
advantage through psychological consumer insights. He has since built Forbes into a major resource for scores of major corporations in the CPG,
Financial Services, and Pharmaceuticals industries, domestically and
internationally. 
David is the creator of the MindSight?? emotional assessment
technologies, a suite of applied neuropsychological methods for understanding
consumer emotion and motivation, without the distortions of conscious editing
and self presentation.