Viewing public relations through a brain-based perspective allows practitioners to gain rich insights into how our publics make decisions on an issue. In order to influence key stakeholders, we must understand that they generally make their decisions quickly and based off emotions. Professor Baba Shiv from the Stanford Graduate School of Business explained how practitioners might use this perspective to their advantage during his presentation at the IPR Trustees Research Symposium on Nov. 8, 2012.
On one end of the spectrum, surgeons face a highly structured process when making decisions in the operating room. However, most stakeholders face an unstructured environment on a day-to-day basis allowing for emotion to play a role in the decision-making process, according to Professor Shiv. One of these factors that affect stakeholders’ environment and emotions is the time of day. For example, when sending a key message out to stakeholders, it will be received more positively in the beginning of the day versus the late afternoon coinciding with the end of their workday.
According to Professor Shiv, about 90 to 95 percent of our decisions are based off instinctual emotions. Although, we may think the rational brain is making those decisions, it is actually just rationalizing what the emotional side has done. Therefore, understanding emotions such as stress, comfort and challenge is key to understanding how our stakeholders make important decisions.
Professor Shiv explains there is an “X” framework, where there are two general pathways for decision-making. One pathway goes from stress to comfort. The second pathway from bored to excited. However, these pathways are not constricted, they are constantly changing. For example, if stress cannot go directly to we will need to be comforted, bored and then onto excitement.