The one-sentence summary

Emotion lies at the heart of consumer behaviour, so it is important to understand exactly how people decide what to buy.


  • For too long emotions have been ignored in favour of rationality and efficiency, but breakthroughs in brain science have revealed that people are primarily emotional decision-makers.
  • Companies need to catch up with this new thinking. Facial coding is the single best viable means of measuring and managing the emotional response of customers and employees.
  • Science, psychology and economics now combines to move us forward: discovery of the brain’s hot button (1986), articulation of emotional intelligence (1995), positive psychology movement (98), and behavioural economics (2002).
  • Neurogenesis shows that new neurons are created during life, so we are not set in our ways. Mirror neurons make us mimic and empathise.
  • Behavioural economics mainly covers categorisation and loss aversion:

Framing: makes a choice more attractive by deliberately comparing it with inferior options

Mental accounting: places artificial limits on what we’re willing to spend

Prospect theory: judges pleasure on condition change, not how happy we are

Anchoring: evaluates new information from a base of what we already know

Recency: gives undue weight to recent experience

  • Aspects of loss aversion include:

Familiarity: has a bias towards the status quo

New risk premium: inflates the cost of new risks and discounts familiar ones

Fear of regret: suffers from having to admit a mistake

Decision paralysis: fails to make one when faced with too many choices


  • The Facial Action Coding System categorises the activity of 43 facial muscles. These betray four core motivations: defend, acquire, bond, and learn, which dovetail with core emotions: anger, happiness, sadness, fear, disgust and surprise.
  • Brand equity is emotional and is hard to measure using rational attributes. Neurons that fire together wire together – branding occurs only in the mind
  • Wundt’s curve shows that maximum appeal occurs when a simple idea is presented in a novel way, or a complex idea is introduced in a familiar manner
  • Empathetic salespeople are upbeat, resilient, and, crucially, caring.
  • Less than 15% of US men are 6 foot or taller, but 58% of CEOs are.


  • It is a brilliant review of behavioural economics, but only a fraction of it is to do with facial coding