What do Men Really Want? – A Scientific Investigation
The old age proverb of ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ has been one that has provided me with great puzzlement throughout my years. Since Ancient civilisation, great philosophers like Plato and Aristotle have been investing a lot of thought in the similarities and differences between the minds of men and our female counterparts.
Even in modern times the psyche of the sexes continues to be an elusive concept, with many scientists, therapists and psychologists exploring the sentiment and psychology of gender on a more mathematical level – probing deep beneath the sub-conscious for a reason to explain how, why and if, our genetic make-up plays a unique part in our behaviour.
With a few years and plenty of life experience beneath my belt, I have come to terms with the notion, that not only will I struggle to sometimes understand the behaviours of Women, I equally struggle to understand the behaviour of my male comrades – more specifically, myself. Why do I say one thing and do another? How do I make decisions? When will I admit defeat in an argument? All the answers are (almost) unclear and somewhat unanswered.
Thankfully, our friends over at Trendhim, a Scandinavian based men’s accessories brand, were asking the same questions. They told us how they were interested in finding out more about our ‘unconscious drawbacks’ and decided to embark on a journey of self-discovery by carrying out, a rather scientific ‘neuromarketing challenge’. Neuromarketing challenge? Yeah, we had to google it too! Basically, this was an experiment which used medically accurate resources, like an EEG scanner and some clever knowledge, to identify how our minds work when it comes to making choices and acting on them.
What is Neuromarketing?
We had to ask ‘what is neuromarketing and how does it work?’ Essentially neuromarketing relies on recognized variables in our human fiber to track activity and chart our thoughts and actions. These variables include:
Facial Expression – Observing even the subtlest changes in facial expressions indicates a person’s emotional state.
Eye Tracking – A big giveaway when telling fibs. These guys can even measure eye movement and pupil dilation to identify thoughts and feelings!
Emotional Responsiveness – Perspiration is allegedly a real indicator of our emotional state and can be measured through the valuable tool of ‘Electrodermal Activity’.
Respiration and Heart Rate – Your heart rate slows down when focus is increased and your breathing speeds up when excited or stimulated – simple little clues to assess focus and engagement.
Monitoring Blood Flow – Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) is a process which tracks the iron in the blood and allows scientists to trace blood flow and indicate emotions.
Trendhim were curious to know why some consumers, in this example men, often make a logical decision but will often contradict this decision regardless of logic. A primary example used by neuromarketing specialists surrounded eating habits. In a survey, most people when asked ‘Would you buy organic food?’ answered ‘yes’ but their actual food purchases fully contradicted their statements. We’ve all been guilty of preaching about healthy food and filling our baskets with junk – but why do we do it?
With Christmas fast approaching, the team at Trendhim decided to focus their interesting neuromarketing challenge on Christmas presents and perception of wrapped gifts. So, Trendhim enlisted nine men, who were all totally unaware of the nature of the test and sought the help of Jespser Clement, associate professor at Copenhagen Business School to conduct the experiment.
To garner qualitative data from the test, a portable EEG brain scanner was used and placed on the head of the subjects/unsuspecting men, before each man was asked if they would prefer to receive a soft present (associated with clothing) or a hard present (associated with technology and books).
Using all indicators of neuromarketing, it was found that 66% of the participants said that they would like to receive a hard present, whereas 34% would prefer a soft present – then, once the presents were handed out it was indicated that a staggering 88% of the participants actually preferred the soft present.
Once the results were collected and assessed it was revealed that 50% off the participants had said one thing but indicated that they would have preferred the opposite. Confirming the already, identified contradictory shopping habits of men.
Overall, the Trendhim neuromarketing challenge has answered some questions in the masculine psyche and identified how, as a collective, men are more likely to contradict our own thoughts and behaviour – leaving us asking a new question, can we use this as an excuse in future for our bad decisions? Absolutely.