To flatten the COVID-19 curve, target the subconscious

Source(s)
Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc.

By Leslie Zane

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Understanding the brand connectome

Years ago, psychologist Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize for his work showing that the human mind has shortcuts (“heuristics”) that overpower rational decision-making. Last year in Knowledge@Wharton, psychology and neuroscience professor Michael Platt and I shared our discovery about what lies inside those shortcuts: intricate networks of brand associations accumulated over time, years in the making—some going as far back as childhood. We call these networks the “Brand Connectome,” named after the human connectome, a map of the brain’s neural connections. 

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In the case of COVID-19, everyone, not just patients, is being asked to change their lifestyle behavior. It’s the most comprehensive behavior-change initiative in modern history. No wonder so many people remain resistant. 

To change minds, officials need to market their message directly to people’s instinctive decision-making mechanism—their “Corona Connectome.”

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To change the connectome of people who are noncompliant, officials need to pack their messages with the right cues that help leverage positive associations quickly. [...] Use imagery of famous people in protective gear delivering food to seniors’ doors. Make adherence, from using antibacterial wipes to staying home, a badge of honor. Feature rap artists, celebrity athletes and movie stars telling people to shelter at home. Use metaphors, like the proactive treatment of a small cancer cell, to explain the importance of stopping the virus as early as possible.  

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