Over fifteen years ago, a psychologist shared with me three key emotional triggers in humans: long-term security, novelty of experience and emotional recognition. Since then, I’ve distilled them into single words:
I refer to them as triggers because they are used frequently in marketing, advertising and sales to encourage us to buy. For example, consider consumer vehicles. Trucks’ advertisements will usually emphasize toughness, power and strength, aspects of security. Those of sports cars will emphasize excitement, speed and youth, aspects of growth. Luxury cars usually emphasize exclusivity, success and specialness, aspects of uniqueness. Certain triggers even dominate certain industries. Try to identify which triggers are working in the next commercials you watch.
Recognizing these triggers has two important implications for us. First, it protects us from those who wish to influence us without our knowledge. Second, it helps us assess and adapt to different personalities. By looking up these three words in a Roget’s Thesaurus, we can learn their related words. When we hear these words in commercials, we can then identify the triggers at work. In conversations, they will correlate to specific personalities.
I call these triggers because they can impact our emotions powerfully. Free will is a popular but outdated concept formalized in the 1500 and 1600’s. Belief in it encourages us to discount their power leaving us vulnerable to them. It was not developed with unconscious influences in mind. Even now, as some read this, they will not believe these triggers influence them. That is exactly why they work and are useful in assessing personalities.
With this in mind, what car commercials do you like, your friends? The triggers they use to attract will tell us something about ourselves and friends.