Break ups and Brands!
Have you ever dealt with break ups, denials or rejection? How did you react to that? Did you inundate your social media with remorseful posts or your liver with beer pints? Break ups in 21st century is a pretty common scenario. Even I had been through this for multiple times. Everytime I faced one I kept wondering why break ups actually break us from within? Since then, I have been pursuing this question to know the reasons for post break up blues. I pursued all forms of reasoning. Eventually, I found the answer in my own professional domain.
Objective of this article is not to sympathize with heart broken souls, but rather to unravel a different perspective in the context of marketing and branding, through the lens of neuroscience. Why heart breaks are so painful? Why it becomes tough to accept the reality? How to cope up with denials? Why heart breaks drive us paranoid? Why post break up blues lead to depression or hyper aggression? Lets seek answer to these questions with the help of science sans emotions.
Our instinct to seek status is driven by our pursuit of positive emotions.
Likewise, avoidance of denial or rejection is driven by that part of our brain which deals with physical pains. Our inherent need to be socially accepted dates back to our deepest evolutionary need to survive and reproduce. We have been begetting this attribute from our forefathers, inhabiting Pleistocene era. Back in that time isolation from a tribe means deprivation from basic life support. Exile or rejection from a tribe was synonymous to death sentence from lack of food, shelter, security and sex. Remember there was no internet back then.
According to Professor of Psychology and Director of UCLA’s Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, Naomi Eisenberger- a single gene in us is associated with both physical and social pain sensitivity. She along with
her colleagues did conduct multiple experiments to understand the deeper
mysteries of human brain. They also stated how social connection is linked
to survival and thus feeling physical pain in the absence of social
connection might serve an adaptive mechanism in maintaining them.
Our primitive brain, which is also known as reptilian brain does not understand any logic, reasoning or language. It is responsible for triggering fight or flight response. Our primitive brain seated deep at the base of our skull, emerging from the spinal column is said to be the oldest and smallest remnant of our prehistoric past. It is called reptilian brain because of its similarities with reptiles, which preceded mammals by roughly 200 million years. It uses sensory inputs from it’s surroundings and reacts with the objective of self preservation by triggering fight or flight response. As I said, this part of the brain does not understand reason, logic, emotion or language rather it deals with basic survival functions like breathing, digestion, blood circulation, sleeping, waking, foraging or hoarding food and most importantly the desire to reproduce. This brain is resistant to change and represents the obstinate you or the selfish you as it guides your natural instincts essential for your survival and fundamental life functions.
Though it is situated at the bottom of the brain and is completely unconscious, it still drives some of our strongest basic instincts and primal urges. Denial or rejection triggers the fight and flight response in the reptilian brain leading to release a stress hormone called Cortisol, resulting in hyper anxiety and darker temperament or even triggering aggressive and violent behaviour within us. Hence the experience we go through after rejection or denial is actually guided by our reptilian brain. Excessive release of cortisol devoids us off our rationality resulting in unsocial or paranoid behaviour. This is why we enjoy binge eating, shopping or even feel hyper emotional after break ups.
In a follow up study, Eisenberger found how Tylenol helps in reducing neural sensitivity to the pain of rejection. So next time your date deceives you or your boss fails to applaud your achievements, you may try Tylenol instead of Vodka or listening to Arijit Singh.
Today brands are not just products but they however affiliates our social
status or serves as gateway to our aspiring social tribes. Be it a luxury tour
to Europe or buying an elite sedan, they stimulate our sense of belonging to
or aspiring social tribes. So next time while planning your vacation, buying your dream car or even a divorce; remember that the origin of your desire or pain- is seated deep in your head.