Strap in as we tango with neuroscience and cha-cha with creativity to rewrite the playbook on impactful behavioural change. Synergy Group creative director Jason Perelson (pictured below) explores how the interplay between brain prediction theory and creative stimuli drives real, meaningful, behavioural change…
Let’s set the stage, shall we?
You’re in a room with all the industry buzzwords you’ve been browbeaten into believing are the key to a successful campaign. “Engagement,” “Brand Awareness,” “Consumer-Centric Strategy”—you’ve heard them all.
“But let’s add a plot twist,” you say, swiping these empty catchphrases off the table, only to replace them with something more… daring. Ah yes, creativity, neuroscience, and behavioural science—three partners-in-crime, luring us into a performance like no other.
Does it sound audacious? You bet. But then again, since when has playing it safe ever changed the world?
A Twist of Neuroscience: Predicting the Unpredictable
Life is a series of brain predictions. Think about it: your cerebral hotshot up there isn’t just passively taking in data; it’s actively predicting what’s going to happen next. Neuroscientists call this “predictive coding,” and it’s the cornerstone of how our grey matter functions.
You see, your brain loves the comfort of the familiar. It loves predictability—well, to an extent. Because, paradoxically, it’s also a big fan of surprises. Your neural networks light up when you encounter a “prediction error”—something out of the ordinary that shatters the monotonous cycle of your expectations.
And that’s where creativity comes in. By delivering unexpected messages, ideas, or visuals, you’re inviting an all-you-can-eat buffet of prediction errors, and, let me tell you, the brain is here for it. It snaps to attention, memory retention kicks in, and engagement levels soar.
Enter Neurochemical Protagonists: Dopamine, Oxytocin, and Serotonin
So, you’ve tickled the brain with prediction errors, and it’s raring to go. What’s next? Cue the grand entrance of our favourite neurochemical protagonists: dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin.
Dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical, is often triggered when something unexpected happens. And guess what? Its levels also rise when you successfully reach a goal. Creativity keeps dopamine levels in a constant tango, bringing pleasure to the new and unexpected, which ultimately feeds back into behaviour change.
Oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” isn’t just about love and social bonding. It’s about trust. Inject creativity into messaging that aligns with someone’s values, and you’re creating a surge of oxytocin. The more trust you build, the more you can facilitate meaningful behavioural change.
Serotonin, often touted as the key to happiness, has an intricate role in regulating mood and social behaviour. Combined with creative stimuli that spark interest, you’re not just hitting serotonin levels for momentary happiness—you’re actually reinforcing pathways for long-term behaviour change.
Beyond the Bright Lights and the Buzz
Back in our fictitious room, you realise that, for all the glitz and glamour of brand awareness, what’s missing is something far more intricate and impactful. We’ve all been in those meetings where someone declares, “Well, we’ve really driven brand awareness!” Cue the slow clap.
Here’s a hard pill to swallow: Awareness, without behavioural change, is as useful as a screen door on a submarine.
Change the Record, Why Don’t You?
Remember the old AIDA model? Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. It’s been our go-to for so long, but it’s a bit like using a Nokia 3310 in the age of iPhones—nostalgic but archaic. Why settle for a linear process when the human brain operates more like an intricate solar system?
If you’re aiming for true engagement and behavioural change, you’ll need to move from a four-step jingle to a full orchestral symphony. A symphony of prediction errors, neurochemical cocktails, and yes, a bit of sheer audacity.
The Final Curtain Call
The relationship between creativity and neuroscience isn’t just an armchair theory; it’s becoming the linchpin of transformative, measurable, and—dare I say it—revolutionary campaigns. As we navigate the intricacies of the human psyche, balancing the old with the new, it’s time to play maestro to a symphony of creativity and science, driving not just awareness, but lasting, impactful change.
So go ahead, let the sparks fly. Ignite the pyrotechnics of creativity, and let it dance with neuroscience and behavioural science to a rhythm only you can compose. After all, this is your stage.
Lights out. Curtain closed. And, for once, the audience isn’t just aware — they’re transformed