Advertising people show data the right way. NeuroSciences proove it!

Let’s be frank. We love to make new types of charts (by using macro in Excel for example), much smarter ones than average pie or bar charts. But will the decision be better with these new amazing graphs ?
Many of us will be affirmative : “The smarter your graph is, the clever you are”. Every data visualization guy knows that a 3D graphic doesn’t give precise values, that a pie chart is the worst thing because human eye doesn’t see the angles well, Et cetera…

Statisticians and IT guys often laugh at journalists designing infographics for the mass media and advertising people showing some gigantic numbers. These stupid flashy images can just be pictures for kids.


But today medical research demonstrates that advertising people are right. What they do by feeling for centuries is scientifically proven to be the right way. Nowadays we know that the brain is made of three distinct sub-systems emerged successively in the course of evolution and now co-inhabit the human skull :

  • The reptilian brain, the oldest of the three, controls the body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. Our reptilian brain includes the main structures found in a reptile’s brain: the brainstem and the cerebellum. The reptilian brain is reliable but tends to be somewhat rigid and compulsive.
  • The limbic brain emerged in the first mammals. It can record memories of behaviours that produced agreeable and disagreeable experiences, so it is responsible for what are called emotions in human beings. The main structures of the limbic brain are the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus. The limbic brain is the seat of the value judgments that we make, often unconsciously, that exert such a strong influence on our behaviour.
  • The neocortex first assumed importance in primates and culminated in the human brain with its two large cerebral hemispheres that play such a dominant role. These hemispheres have been responsible for the development of human language, abstract thought, imagination, and consciousness. The neocortex is flexible and has almost infinite learning abilities. The neocortex is also what has enabled cultures to develop.

These three parts of the brain do not operate independently of one another. They have established numerous interconnections through which they influence one another. But with new medical technologies, we know now that the principal decision center is inside the reptilian old brain.

Therefore in order to make your audience take the right decision (after viewing your documents), you have to know the rules :

  1. The old brain is driven by emotions.
    Don’t hesitate to put surprising or attractive images. But more important, only bring information touching your audience.
    “People are egocentric” says the author of “Neuromarketing: Are there some Buy buttons”.
  2. The old brain “decides” on the basis of the gain vs. pain tradeoff.
    The two basic drivers of all behavior and decisions are: to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Marketing guru, Seth Godin illustrates through his Joy/Cash Curve that high value purchases often trigger increasing amounts of buying pain.
  3. The old brain is highly influenced by beginnings and endings.
    Research confirms that the beginning and ending of an event or experience alters our perception of the entire experience. Our initial impression becomes the “filter” for how we perceive what is to follow. The most recent experience leaves a final impression with greater weight. In few words, give simple messages and few data if you want people to remember them.
  4. The old brain is visually oriented and responds rapidly to images.
    From the moment we are born, we are able to see shadows and associate meaning to them. In communications, we are told that 65% of our how our message is received is through our eyes (or visual cues). Study after study has shown that someone’s first impression of you is based on your physical appearance. In each instance, it is our old brain rapidly responding to visual cues, not words. “We process and make decisions visually, without being aware of them,” Morin says. “Only later do we rationalize decisions we made.”
  5. The old brain understands only what is tangible, physical and concrete.
    According to Patrick Renvoise, the old brain is constantly scanning for what is familiar and tangible. It does not understand numbers or abstract terms, like “integrated approach” or “comprehensive solution.”
  6. Emotion trumps reason:
    Give us the right emotion to ride on, and we’ll buy what you’re selling. When we experience an emotion,it creates a chemical change in our brain, hormones flood our brain and change the speeds with which neurons connect, and it’s through those connections we memorize. We don’t remember anything if there isn’t an emotion attached to that experience.
    More information on

How do you see infographics now ? Do you think your audience takes decision based on multi-variate statistical data or on good presentation ? Jack Welch (former Chairman and CEO of General Electric) said that the majority of his decisions were made next to the coffee machine in the hallway.

If you want to take advantage of neurosciences, may be it’s time to use BeGraphic to build your visual graphs.

Other sources :

Video about (not so) human psychology

Complete / Part 1

Complete / Part 2

Complete / Part 3

One Response to “Advertising people show data the right way. NeuroSciences proove it!”

  1. Kylie Batt says:

    Let’s be frank. We love to make new types of charts (by using macro in Excel for example), much smarter ones than average pie or bar charts.