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The Babes of Blogging

Michael Pollock of the Small Business Branding Blog is shameless. Bloggingbabes_4_1_1
He actually started a Top Ten Smartest Blogging Babes feature on his blog. As a woman, I was appalled and insulted...

...until he included me : )

No, I was pretty damn delighted to join a list of some seriously kick-ass women including:

* Jory Des Jardins

* Jackie Huba

* Jennifer Rice

I realize that some find "babe" a derogatory term and feel it's inappropriate or even degrading to reference a woman's physical features. But come on. I've read too much about the brain to feel anything but flattered. (And I really don't care to make a social statement on this. I respect anyone's right to be offended, as long as they respect my right to NOT be.)

The brain is tuned to be attracted to, well, attractiveness, and apparently this is even stronger for men than women. You probably all saw the media frenzy a few years ago over the Massachusets General Hospital study on beauty and the brain. And here's a BBC report that's kind of fun and talks about the role of eye contact in all this.

And it's not just women that brains are attracted to. Virgina Postrel has a lot to say about "the rise of aesthetics" in The Substance of Style, and Don Norman talks about attractiveness and product design in his latest book, Emotional Design. (Beth blogged on some of this earlier in "why cool is good for your brain.")

Sexiness sells. It sells because the brain can't help itself.

Sexual attractiveness isn't the only thing the brain finds compelling, of course, and when I see an advertiser or filmmaker relying solely on sex, I often assume the producer lacks imagination. But my brain will suffer if political correctness, professionalism, and the need for "appropriateness" strips out any hint of one of the best parts of being human.

Clearly there are places where using sex is not a healthy strategy (like teaching kids), but I was deadly serious in my earlier post when I said that using an example from Office Max won't be as effective as using one from Victoria's Secret. Emotion and memory are intimately tied, and let's face it--a lace bra causes more of a chemical reaction than a file folder. And it's that chemical reaction that helps you break through the brain's crap filter and ultimately write something to long-term storage. We'll do whatever it takes to make your learning experience faster, easier, and more enjoyable : )

Posted by Kathy on February 1, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

Congrats "babe" :-)

Posted by: Johannes de Jong | Feb 1, 2005 10:33:02 PM

Great write-up! I should have known better than to expect just a simple "hey thanks" from you, Cowgirl. Thanks for the plug - mp ;-)

Posted by: Michael D. Pollock | Feb 2, 2005 6:36:03 AM

Is that what the little picture at the top left is all about then? ; )

Posted by: Turnip | Feb 2, 2005 9:16:46 AM

I can see why you've been branded a babe. Welcome to our Lil' Club!

Posted by: Jory Des Jardins | Feb 2, 2005 1:48:12 PM

Shameless, but right!

Posted by: Tom Asacker | Feb 2, 2005 2:21:17 PM

I seem to remember a certain email exchange we had awhile back related to a certain person named "Beth"... I bet she'd have a coronary over this one! :-)

You have my vote!

Posted by: Duffbert | Feb 2, 2005 5:21:47 PM

I write this only because, it's this sort of manipulation that irritates people, makes the crap filter even stronger. While I'll agree that the majority of users are couch potatoes, other can't stand this and are tired of it. You really have to be creative to get creative. Trojan condom commercials yes, Wanna Fanta, no wanna puke yes.

OfficeMax commercial idea

Man tries to close the second from top drawer of a file cabinet and it just won't go in. Another office in the same building a woman has no trouble closing that draw in her file cabinet. Both leave their offices to go home.

The file cabinets come to life and also leave their respective offices.

So the first file cabinet bumps into the file cabinet with the second drawer out and well pretty soon there's papers and labels all over the place. Fade out from noises of drawers sliding.

Cut to morning

The man did not use OfficeMax labels on his folders, except on one folder. The woman did. She is able to collect all her work and mistakenly takes his folder also because she assumes the one's without others are not hers. The man can't find his folder and asks the woman who promptly retrieves it. He says thanks and she says in a high pitched voice, "Anytime."

Posted by: Devil's Advocate | Feb 5, 2005 10:07:58 AM

"You really have to be creative to get creative".
Yes, agreed--and just what I was thinking when I said that relying solely on sex tends to make me think the director lacked imagination.
And I completely agree about things like this strengthening the crap filter the more they're used, although this is complex. Some things are FAR harder for the brain to push into the background. Most people have to work quite hard to become even partially resistant to things the brain is heavily tuned for. But you're right--once something's become completely expected, it starts to lose effectiveness. Even the porn sites *refresh* their content...
My point about OfficeMax vs. Victoria's Secret isn't that you can't produce a memorable, effective OfficeMax ad (and I love yours--sign me up for OfficeMax labels!), but that it takes less time and creative energy for me to get someone's attention by holding up a lace bra than a stapler.
If you're developing creative content like a commercial or a film, you have *time* to find more imaginative ways to get that chemical reaction. But in a classroom (adults, not kids ; )) where someone needs, say, an alternate example to help them "get it", I have about 6 seconds to come up with one. Given a choice, I'll take the Victoria's Secret example (although I get diminishing returns if I just keep using that for the rest of the class!). If I have the time, I'm better off working up a variety of more creative examples, but for now--I'll exploit whatever I can to, yes, manipulate their brains to get them to better remember the material.
The big, important difference between what we recommend and what advertisers do, though, is that we *tell* people exactly what we're doing to their heads and why. The intro of each of our books has a section on "metacognition", where we list all of the principles we're applying and to what end. We're asking the reader to become *complicit* in manipulating their brains to help them learn faster and retain more. (Or as we put it in the book--"try to trick the brain into thinking that what you're learning really IS potentially life-threatening/life-saving").
One of our goals with our books and this site is to help our users become more resistant to the manipulations from those who are *not* forming a consensual partnership with their users... specifically advertisers and--far more dangerous--politicians and the commercial news media.
It frightens the hell out of me that people's brains were being quite literally *damaged* in physical (not just psychological) ways from watching repeated images of the Twin Towers, for example, but that the news media rarely does a report on *that*.

Posted by: Kathy Sierra | Feb 5, 2005 12:42:33 PM

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