Emotion vs. Mood

Emotions are intense feelings that are directed at someone or something. Moods are feelings that tend to be less intense than emotions and that often (though not always) lack a contextual stimulus. Most experts believe that emotions are more fleeting than moods. For example, if someone is rude to you, you’ll feel angry. That intense feeling of anger probably comes and goes fairly quickly, maybe even in a matter of seconds. When you’re in a bad mood, though, you can feel bad for several hours. Emotions are reactions to a person (seeing a friend at work may make you feel glad) or event (dealing with a rude client may make you feel angry). You show your emotions when you’re “happy about something, angry at someone, afraid of something.” Moods, in contrast, aren’t usually directed at a person or event. But emotions can turn into moods when you lose focus on the event or object that started the feeling. And, by the same token, good or bad moods can make you more emotional in response to an event. So when a colleague criticizes how you spoke to a client, you might become angry at him. That is, you show emotion (anger) toward a specific object (your colleague). But as the specific emotion dissipates, you might just feel generally dispirited. You can’t attribute this feeling to any single event; you’re just not your normal self. You might then overreact to other events. This affect state describes a mood.

  1. Mood is something a person may not express whereas emotions may be expressed.
  2. Mood may last for a long period whereas emotions may last only for the time being.
  3. Emotions are aroused in people by some specific objects or situations. On the other hand, moods are not created in someone because of any specific object or any particular situation.
  4. If a person gets angry, he expresses that emotion towards someone. If a person is in a sad mood, he cannot express it to others.
  5. When compared to moods, emotions are more extreme.
  6. Emotion is a word that has been derived from the French emouvoir.
  7. Mood is a word that is derived from the Old English word of Mod, which represented military courage.

References:

  1. http://catalogue.pearsoned.co.uk/samplechapter/0132431564.pdf
  2. http://timhillpsychotherapy.com/blog/144-moods-vs-emotions.html
  3. http://www.differencebetween.net/language/difference-between-mood-and-emotion/
  4. https://www.paulekman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Moods-Emotions-And-Traits.pdf
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4217599/

 

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Outcome Bias and Affective Forecasting

It happens in most of our lives that what looked like a bad event or a decision a few years back actually doesn’t seem like that bad an event or a decision today. Similarly, what looked like a great decision or an event a few years back doesn’t seem like that great a decision or an event today. It happens because one always looks at the past with the knowledge of the present. The more dangerous thing is that one looks at the future too with the knowledge of the present. These are two classic phenomena in psychology – the former is called Outcome Bias and the latter is called Affective Forecasting.

Outcome bias is the error made in evaluating the quality of a decision once the outcome of the decision is known, instead of evaluating the quality of the decision based on the information available when the decision was made. Have you ever wondered how everybody is an expert once a decision goes wrong? Everything is obvious once the result is known. Isn’t it? This is partly because humans are excellent in coming up with causal reasons for an event once the result is known, and it makes us excellent story makers.

On the other hand, Affective forecasting is about predicting how one will feel in the future. It is about how one’s emotional state (affect) will be in the future? As it turns out, we’re terrible at it. We’re not good judges of what will make us happy in the future, and we have trouble seeing through the filter of the present moment. Our feelings in the present blind us to how we make decisions in the future when we might be feeling differently and how we predict our future experience.

There is an old adage: past is always good. The truth is: people who want a good story for themselves actually choose to see their past as good. One always has an option to make either a good story or a bad story of one’s past or future in relation to one’s present, and that’s how we live. Man’s quest for meaning makes him create stories full of cognitive biases.

References:

1. http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/affective-forecasting

2. http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/christopher.hsee/vita/Papers/DecisionAndExperience.pdf

 

Belief System – Our Comfort Zone

Almost all human beings, except a few, are nothing but a set of belief systems. We develop our own personal system of beliefs. We all interpret the world with our own set of belief systems.  Our belief systems shape our reasoning and behavior.

‘What you believe’ comes first and it leads to how you feel and act.

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Beliefs are what people believe to be true, and that are not necessarily true. What we believe creates our reality, and contributes to the behavioral propensity. People believe that which is coherent with the prior beliefs.  As a child, what you believe is influenced by what you see around, what is told to you as a tradition, and what authorities (parents, teachers, etc.) tell you is true. As you grow old, you demand for more evidence. People generally form belief systems based on evidence, tradition, authority, association, and revelation.

At any point of time, people have a natural tendency to believe things that are coherent with their existing set of truisms. In case of any friction or incoherence with the existing beliefs, one either challenges the evidence egoistically or s/he evaluates their beliefs and considers changing them. So, if you have a biased belief towards something already, then it is going to take a lot of evidence for you to change your belief or sometimes you probably will not change your belief, especially if it can potentially hurt your ego. Your earlier cache of beliefs are shaped by the significant people in your environment.

Belief systems are established by ourselves to protect our ego and satisfy ourselves. They are reasons we give ourselves to behave in a certain way in the real world. In fact, some psychologists even say that ego is nothing but a set of belief systems. An easily understood example is: As a child, if you were exposed to animals and shared love with them, then chances are you will love animals as an adult. The opposite holds true too. You give yourself extremely convincing reasons to love or hate animals,  and to dance or not to dance impromptu in a discotheque. Your belief system is your comfort zone.

As we grow old, we tend to get an intuitive understanding of our belief systems. Like the above example, some belief systems are loose and conscious and you can separate them from yourself and observe them. But, each of us also have some core unconscious and pre-conscious belief systems that are so ingrained that it is a huge challenge to separate oneself (or one’s identity) from the belief system.

How do we establish belief systems?

Beliefs are not necessarily based on reality. Rather, they are based on your distinctive perceptions. When you have enough knowledge and experience of an idea so that it gives you a sense of certainty about it, you have a belief. That belief then takes the role of an ‘assumed truth’ in your life. Once a belief is established in your mind, it is common to develop tunnel vision around it. Since you believe ‘it is the answer’, you tend to rule out other possibilities and fore go any imagination on the subject. In this way, beliefs can act as an obstacle to more complete understandings.

Psychologists say that belief systems are mostly shaped in one’s early childhood, and the factors that influence belief systems are one’s genetic pre-disposition, parents,  environment, education, life experiences, and upbringing. Within the first 6 years, a child already has strong belief systems and behaves with emotions of pride, fear, guilt, warmth,etc. to various situations and influences of the external world. These early belief systems not only influence your behavior, but they also influence how you absorb further belief systems. If you were bitten by a dog in your childhood, chances are you will never go near to a dog again in your life. Though the behavior is irrational, you have a very strong belief system that doesn’t allow you to change that belief system.

Ego develops as a mediator between your expectations and the realities of the outside world. – Sigmund Freud.

People respond to their belief system’s view or interpretation of the situation, and not the actual situation.

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So, Are Belief Systems Good or Bad?

Belief systems direct your conscious and unconscious reasoning. Belief systems are productive and unproductive based on the goals you want to achieve. If the belief system is blocking you from being more productive and reaching your goal, then the belief system is unproductive and unhealthy. People can develop the ability to observe their belief systems and tame their belief systems for maximum productivity. Its about learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Unproductive belief systems block us from creating opportunities and from realizing our true potential. An example of an unproductive belief system could be an individual not able to ask for help. It definitely hinders an individual from being more effective.

Willingly or forcibly, most successful people and mentally strong people evaluate their core beliefs from time to time, and practice to tolerate discomfort. With time one gets more strong and habituated to get out of their comfort zones and break their belief systems.

How about living life with no belief systems at all?

With all due respect to those who can, lets leave it to the Yogis. Yes, the Yogis seem to have a way to achieve it, if one is interested. From my perspective, within my efforts, I always understood what they meant, but I could never quite devote myself and understand their means of achieving it. Moreover, some people delude themselves of not having a belief-system, when it in itself is one. Additionally, I feel that it is absolutely essential to have a belief system to drive our lives. I might be wrong in this point of view, but I intuitively feel that all actions are based on belief systems, and if we don’t have belief systems, we might not consciously drive our lives as we do.

Our Emotions point the way to our beliefs

The way we feel, emote, and act regarding something provides a tremendous insight into what we believe about that something. In this new year, let us observe the underlying belief systems and values of our emotions. Whenever you want or don’t want to do something ask yourself the true reason for it or for the emotion. The reason that follows unleashes the belief systems we have. For example, if one says – I can or cannot do X because… (belief system) or I am reacting like this because… (belief system) -, then the sentence that follows ‘because‘ is your belief system.

One final thought coined by my friend Subbu – “The way we accept reality dictates the way we make our choices”.

Hope you find this post useful. Thank you, and I wish you all a very Happy New Year 2014. 🙂

Brands – Emotional Benefits vs Self-expressive Benefits

There is a big difference between feeling rugged when wearing Levi’s jeans and expressing the strong, rugged side of you by wearing them. The differences between the two can be important.

Brands essentially deal with different kinds of benefits. An identity that is based on intangible associations or brand personalities provides the brand with more strategic scope and gives you more liberty to extend the brand.

On the other hand, a brand that relies on the superior performance of a key attribute will eventually get beaten by competition, because the attribute is a fixed target for competitors. The result can be a loss of differentiation, or worse an inferior position on an attribute that is associated with the brand.

Qualitative Market Research – Book Review

The Book: Qualitative Market Research by Wendy Gordon and Roy Langmaid

About the Authors:

Wendy Gordon and Roy Langmaid run successful qualitative research practices in London. Roy Langmaid is one of Europe’s leading consumer psychologists and Wendy Gordon is the co-founder of brand consultancy The Fourth Room. One of the authors has a psychology degree, and the other a social anthropology degree; both of them have experienced clinical psychology first hand and are one of the most celebrated authors in the field of Qualitative Research.

Review:

It is the authors’ commitment to accumulate the knowledge of forty years of their experience that created this book. I congratulate the authors for taking on such a challenging task of writing a comprehensive book on Qualitative Research.

This is the first book to bring all the practices and principles of the sister discipline of market research – Qualitative Research. The book starts with the introduction to qualitative research and the contribution to the growth of Qualitative Research. The authors state that the days of endless debates about the superiority of quantitative and qualitative research are over. Both the methods have their strengths and weaknesses and are friends and not enemies. The authors go on to describe the problem areas suited to Qualitative Research such as consumer perceptions, understanding the dimensions of brands, new product development, creative development and diagnostic studies. Furthermore, the authors describe the choice of research methodology and the process of research brief and research objective.

Starting from Chapter Three is the group processes and group dynamics. This is about what factors influence what people say and how they behave in groups. This chapter discusses the components of group discussion, how group discussion is used in research, and the Do’s and don’ts for the interviewer. This describes the several stages of a group process like Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Mourning. There have been some very good ideas and techniques like anchoring on how to do better group interviewing.

Starting from Chapter Six is my favourite part of the book: the individual depth interview, non-verbal communication (NVC) and projective techniques. The book describes the skills required for good depth-interviewing and the internal and external parameters of body language. It describes the application and usage of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), study of eye and head movements and body postures during the interview. It provides a complete coverage of major projective and enabling techniques and this is the best part of the book. It covers all the different association procedures, completion procedures, construction and expressive procedures used in NVC. The usage of psycho drawing, thought bubbles, brand mapping, sentence completion, word association, mirroring  and other techniques are explained in detail with examples.

The book flows into the interpretation and presentation of qualitative research. Various techniques of interpretation are explained given the fact that people often ‘don’t say what they mean’ and ‘don’t mean what they say’. Also, there has been special focus on how to conduct research with children and the techniques used in such research. The book concludes with the various hybrid methodologies and statistical procedures used for the analysis of qualitative research.

This book really helped me to get a holistic picture of qualitative research. It helped me interrogate and digest the various techniques involved in qualitative research. I just loved some of the psycho drawings and associations presented in this book. It made me ask some interesting questions of how music can be used in qualitative research and consumer behaviour.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a good understanding of all the techniques of qualitative research that are making qualitative research influential. The book doesn’t have much of technical jargon and is a very simple and beautiful read for anybody slightly interested in market research and any form of behavioural sciences.

Thank you. It has been pleasure writing this review.

Buy this book on Amazon!

Every smoker is a marketer

A smoker is extremely loyal to his brand. A smoker feels that the brand resembles him and he acts as if he resembles the brand. One of the biggest advantages with tobacco companies is it has a process of network marketing for free. Most of the people who smoke would’ve been taught how to smoke by other smokers. This is the way they have a sense of oneness and they feel happy as a part of a group like cigarette brothers. This is why I say ‘Every smoker is a marketer’.

Sometime ago, I had an argument with my friend over the packaging changes to cigarette packs to make people aware of the problems of smoking. Finally we decided that may be the tobacco companies will not let any changes be done in the packaging as any minor change is going to make the consumer conscious about smoking. But we were wrong.

Three months later, the Supreme court ordered for all cigarette packs to carry a ‘Smoking Kills’ pictorial warning which covers at least 40% of the front of the pack. I went to a few stores in Hyderabad and found that the retailers are displaying the cigarette packs on the other side, the side which doesn’t have the warning.  This seems to be nice marketing gimmick by the retailers and the tobacco companies.

BRANDING THE CIGARETTE PAPER

For the ‘Smoking Kills’ campaign to be more effective, I think it should also be extended to the cigarette paper. I think we need to brand the cigarette paper with something that the consumers really cares for, wherein they don’t like it to be burnt as they smoke. The immediate question is: what is it? My answer is YOU. Yes, brand the cigarette paper with the word YOU vertically. As and when he smokes he will be burning the word ‘YOU’, which is a direct indication of what he is doing to himself by smoking. It may not be effective immediately, but gradually it makes a subconscious impact on the smoker. Unlike the picture on the cigarette pack, the smoker will be forced to see this text as long as he smokes the cigarette. Though I don’t have any proven results, I think this will be more effective at the subconscious level and it will more effective.

A smoker spends 99% of his time with the cigarette, not with the cigarette pack. Moreover when the text YOU is burning it actually makes a subconscious impact on the people. A smoker is very conscious about the anti-tobacco advertisements which makes life more difficult. If you are consciously ignoring something it is very difficult to make you do it consciously, which is how the anti-tobacco campaigns ask the smokers to quit. For the anti-tobacco campaigns to be effective, the best way is to attack the sub-consciousness.

WHAT THE TOBACCO COMPANIES SHOULD DO?

If you are a smoker or a marketer, ask yourself ‘What is the biggest and the most common problem for a smoker?’. Yes, lighting the cigarette is the biggest problem. So I feel the tobacco companies should provide the dotted striker material on one side of their packs, with a few match sticks in their pack. This removes the dependency of the smoker and it may actually make people prefer your cigarette pack. Many people who smoke don’t like to carry lighters, match-sticks or anything that would indicate that they smoke. This is the best solution to address such problems.

All the above views are completely my individual opinions. Thank you.