Manual Impulse: Why We Do What We Do Without Knowing Why We Do It

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It is also easily fooled and, as savvy marketeers and politicians know, easily manipulated. System R thinking is rational and reflective, and gives us restraint and forward-planning as well as such wonders as literature. But what dozens of varied examples in Lewis's book all illustrate is that System I thinking — "our zombie brain's default mode" — takes precedence over System-R thinking, and is responsible for the majority of our everyday behaviours. System R thinking comes into play after the fact: "Only if asked why we spoke or acted as we did, do we engage System R thinking to try to come up with a sensible, or at least plausible explanation for our behaviour Doubtless it is worthwhile, however disconcerting, to be mindful of the fact that we aren't as rational as we appear even to ourselves.

It helps explain human failings from prejudice to addiction. Luckily, we live in an era in which the general reader attracted to the explanatory power of modern neuroscience is spoilt for choice. And Lewis is neither the first nor the most elegant writer to have described the same dichotomy.

Splurchases! – Science and Impulse Buying

Lewis gathers his supporting evidence from sources ranging from the social sciences' most seminal experiments, to a study he conducted himself on the Channel 4 programme Secret Eaters. But it isn't clear how much credence he expects us to apportion to each study, and it begins to seem as if every scrap of information, no matter how anecdotal, is grist to his mill.

And the speed with which he skates over the surface of things can be disorienting. Some of the book's more interesting anecdotes come from the world of marketing, where millions of pounds are spent researching ways to appeal directly to our System I brains. Indeed, Lewis is described by his own book's blurb as the "father of neuromarketing".

Perhaps he has indirectly caused you to spend more money in a supermarket than you otherwise would have. If so, don't feel too bad if, this time, you do engage System R, and interrogate the impulse to buy his book. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Try Independent Minds free for 1 month. Independent Minds Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Minds.

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Find your bookmarks in your Independent Minds section, under my profile. Subscribe Now Subscribe Now. Final Say. Long reads. Lib Dems. US Politics. Theresa May. Jeremy Corbyn. Robert Fisk. Mark Steel. Janet Street-Porter. John Rentoul. Chuka Ummuna. Shappi Khorsandi. Gina Miller. Our view. Sign the petition. Spread the word. Steve Coogan. Rugby union. Motor racing. US sports. Rugby League. Geoffrey Macnab. Tech news. A rather large one. I have a home, and obviously have no "need" of this item, as I am also not the weekend warrior type that frequently indulges in camping trips.

So why did I purchase it? On the surface, I knew that I had no immediate need. I knew that I had no intention of using it in the foreseeable future. But my mind was already committing to the acquisition of this item, even as I questioned my own motives. The whole reasoning process took approximately 10 seconds, despite the length and breadth of the entire down of possibility that I contemplated. Ultimately, the decision was cemented when I asked myself which I desired to face; having it without need, or being without it should I be surprised with untimely need.

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In the end, the impulse buy was based on preparation for the unknown. A possible future in which this purchase could be justified was embraced and validated. I think your statements are very accurate but also one of those things in which everyone can agree on. I am personally working on a paper on visual perception and am currently investigating the linkage between Fodor's thesis of the modularity of mind, which argues that human input systems are encapsulated, quick and shallow.

Thus decisions are made without any interconnectivity in the brain. My idea is that when a consumer identifies an object in the supermarket bag of potato chips he is instantaneously stimulated by the attractive packaging of the chips, and his brain sends a quick and shallow response to buy the chips. Even though the consumer might already have chips at home, or actually knows that chips are bad for his health. But since the consumer's inputs systems are modular, he does not reach the conclusion that he should not buy the chips.

This conclusion response from the brain can only be found when activating the non-modular central systems, which enables analogous thinking. When i am unsure if i want a product, that i just saw I just put it in my shopping cart to feel like i am going to buy it. I walk around with it, meanwhile i pick up the other purchases and by the time i reach the cashier i actually can make a good decision about it. Also simply the fact that i put it in the basket, gives the feeling that i own it and that's sometimes enough just to not want it anymore or realize i wouldn't really need it.

What factors lead us to avoid cruelty-free, fair-trade, and green products? What myths and realities surround subliminal ads, and what does it mean for you? Children accept ad claims at face value, and the consequences can be harmful. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help. Back Magazine. The New Science of Sleep Experts suggest ways to correct the habits that keep us from resting well. Subscribe Issue Archive.


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  • Back Today. Ian Zimmerman Ph. What Motivates Impulse Buying? Personality, pleasure, and product connections can all lead to impulse buys. Do you believe Fodor's thesis could help explain impulsive buying behavior? Controlling impulse buys Submitted by LuxEngell on July 21, - am. Post Comment Your name. E-mail The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. Notify me when new comments are posted.

    Splurchases! – Science and Impulse Buying – Dr David Lewis

    All comments. Replies to my comment. Leave this field blank. More Posts. Why Don't We Consume Ethically? Subliminal Ads, Unconscious Influence, and Consumption What myths and realities surround subliminal ads, and what does it mean for you? Kids Believe in Both.