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Clotaire Rapaille believes all purchasing decisions lie beyond conscious thinking and emotion and reside at a primal core. He helps Fortune 500 companies discover “the code” (i.e. unconscious associations for their products) that will help them increase sales.
They are too cortex, which means that they think too much, and then they ask people to think and to tell them what they think. Now, my experience is that most of the time, people have no idea why they’re doing what they’re doing. They have no idea, so they’re going to try to make up something that makes sense. Why do you need a Hummer to go shopping? “Well, you see, because in case there is a snowstorm.” No. Why [do] you buy four wheel drive? “Well, you know, in case I need to go off-road.” Well, you live in Manhattan; why do you need four wheel drive in Manhattan? “Well, you know, sometime[s] I go out, and I go—” You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that this is disconnected. This is nothing to do with what the real reason is for people to do what they do. So there are many limits in traditional market research.
omewhere on Long Island sits a mansion that apes the appearance of a fairly grand European castle. The owner is a charismatic, French cultural-anthropologist named Clotaire Rapaille. Dr. Rapaille paid for his mansion by selling big time marketers on the idea of tapping into consumers' "reptilian brain."
The reptilian brain is essentially the brain stem and is concerned with fundamental needs such as survival, physical maintenance, hoarding, dominance, preening and mating. The basic ruling emotions of love, hate, fear, lust, and contentment are, according to neuro-psychologists, also rooted in this structure of our brains.
Originally I'm a child psychiatrist. I used to work with autistic children, children that don't speak, and I was just trying to find a cure. I made several little discoveries of the way the brain functions at the time. For example, these children are usually quite intelligent -- some kind of "intelligent." I don't know if you remember Rain Man, that [in the Dustin Hoffman character] Rain Man you had this kind of computer intelligence, but they have a little problem with emotions.
One of my discoveries was that in order to create the first imprint of a word -- when you learn a word, whatever it is, "coffee," "love," "mother," there is always a first time. There's a first time to learn everything. The first time you understand, you imprint the meaning of this word; you create a mental connection that you're going to keep using the rest of your life. And to create this mental connection, you need some emotions. Without emotion, there is no production of neurotransmitters in the brain, and you don't create the connection. So actually every word has a mental highway. I call that a code, an unconscious code in the brain.
The four principles of Karl Ernst von Baer. In 1828, von Baer reported, “I have two small embryos preserved in alcohol, that I forgot to label. At present I am unable to determine the genus to which they belong. They may be lizards, small birds, or even mammals.” Figure 1.5 allows us to appreciate his quandary. All vertebrate embryos (fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals) begin with a basically similar structure. From his detailed study of chick development and his comparison of chick embryos with the embryos of other vertebrates, von Baer derived four generalizations (now often referred to as “von Baer's laws”), stated here with some vertebrate examples:
The prehominid ancestors of homo sapiens - Dryopithecus and Ramapithecus - appeared about 20 million years ago. They had brains which were no bigger than monkey brains. For the next 17million years or so, practically no change in brain size occurred. About 3 million years ago the 'australopithecine hominids' appeared rather abruptly, with larger brains with 'cranial capacity' of about 500cc. The evolution of the hominid brain to its present size is a relatively recent phenomenon... the greatest brain development occurred within the last 3 million years.
Reptilian system or 'R-complex' The R-complex the most primitive of the three is also known as the 'archipallium brain' or 'root brain'. It consists largely of the 'brain stem', the 'basal ganglia', the 'reticular activating system' and the 'midbrain'. Functions of the R-complex are related to physical survival and body maintenance - digestion, reproduction, circulation, breathing, response to stress and so on. The functioning of the R-complex is activated when the organism perceives threat and the needs for survival and safety predominate. Functions related to the instinctive behaviour patterns self-preservation include automatic behaviours of 'territorial instincts' or 'territoriality', social dominance and ritualism, status maintenance, deception, tendency to follow precedent and resistance to change, awe for authority, social 'pecking order' behaviour, compulsiveness, prejudice .
Brain scans of the antisocial people, compared with a control group of individuals without any mental disorders, showed on average an 18-percent reduction in the volume of the brain's middle frontal gyrus, and a 9 percent reduction in the volume of the orbital frontal gyrus – two sections in the brain's frontal lobe
While these findings could improve our understanding of criminal behavior, they also raise moral quandaries about whether and how society should use this knowledge to combat crime.