9 Things that inspired us in 2019

At B.R.A.I.N. Creatives, our motto is ‘Inspired by Science”. Here’s some of the stuff, scientific and otherwise, that inspired us in the last year. We hope some of it will inspire you in 2020.

  1. This Spotify list with Sapolsky lectures
    Many speakers and writers on behavior (ourselves included) simplify the biological background. We do so when speak of ‘centers’ in the brain. When we reduce a hormone like dopamine or oxytocin to one effect. And when we suppose that any behavior must be useful as it was produced by evolution. While simplification is necessary when giving 20 minute introductions, it’s good to have a broader picture. And nobody paints that picture more compellingly than Stanford Professor Dr. Robert Sapolsky.
  2. Uncivil Agreement by Liliana Mason
    Everybody has an opinion or analysis on Trump, Brexit, polarization and local populists. Mason’s is the one that blew our minds. Scientific, ruthless and lucid, this book truly explains what’s happening in the world today.
  3. The stories told by Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe
    Our subconscious brains think in stories, not facts. Forget ‘storytelling’ advertising about the search for the perfect pasta sauce. We’re talking about the incredible power of real stories of mythological proportions. And 2019 saw those reign supreme at the box office and in popular (meme) culture with Avengers Endgame and Star Wars: The Mandalorian. Hero’s journeys with conflicted characters and archetypal roles speak to our minds like nothing else. This is the way.
  4. Behavioural Design Fest 2019
    Organized by our friends at SUE Behavioural Design, this year’s edition was a knockout. From personal efficiency to the power of unachievable goals, political strategy to designing succesful teams … One great talk after another. We’re still following the breadcrumb trails set out by the speakers, to more reading, watching and listening.
  5. Re-discovering Obliquity by John Kaye
    An older book that seems more relevant than ever. According to Kaye, complex goals can only be achieved obliquely. This idea really resonates with the state of behavioral science in marketing. Too many people are taking the direct approach, hammering their audience with literal claims of social proof, authority etc. A more oblique and creative approach is needed, before we all turn into booking.com.
  6. The Dutch Behavioral Science Network
    We joined the organizing team behind this and are already getting a lot of energy from that. Big challenge: as behavioral science evolves, how do we go from the bias-loving honeymoon phase to a mature understanding including the nuances and problems in the field? Well, inviting some very smart speakers certainly helps. The first meeting is fully booked, but stay tuned for more great talks later this year!
  7. Magic!
    Seriously, although illusionism may be the preferred nomenclature. Illusionists can teach us so much about attention and the brain. Dutchies should check out Victor Mids’ awesome Mindf*ck Next Level (Maven Publishing). And don’t miss out on Norbert Mirani’s workshops combining marketing insights and magic tricks.
  8. Social by Matthew Lieberman
    The subtitle “Why our brains are wired to connect” pretty much sums up Lieberman’s book. Scientific proof that social influence, signaling etc. should really be seen as distinct from individual pain/gain processes. Eye-opening fact: our brains don’t have one system for social behaviour, but several operating at once.
  9. This course by Dan Ariely and Rory Sutherland
    If you’re looking for a thorough introduction into behavioral science and marketing, look no further. Lots of videos, great handouts and some of the smartest speakers on the subject all in one place.