5 Brilliant Talks on how Psychology Affects Design, UX, Branding, Marketing and Advertising

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These Freakonomics-style talks about human behaviour will help you become a better designer or creative director.

These five talks aren't specifically about design or branding or advertising – but by watching them you'll learn something about human psychology that'll make you better at what you do. They're all taken from an event called Nudgestock, held a couple of weeks ago in Folkestone by OglivyChange – an offshoot of advertising giant Oglivy that specialises in behavioural economics – and now available online.

Behavioural economics is the study and understanding of choice – how do we as people decide what to buy and when to buy it. And as creators of media and brands that are trying to influence that choice – to get someone to buy the products we're selling – having an understanding of how people think about that choice (or don't think and choose instinctively) is critical to how we conceive and design our marketing, ads, websites and other brand communications.

Many of the practical examples given in these talks are what are known as 'nudges' or 'mind hacks' – accomplished performer and OglivyChange VP Rory Sutherland mentions one inherent to Wagamama in his opening talk. When you visit Wagamama, you're asked if you've been before. If not, you're told that 'as in a traditional restaurant in Japan, your food will arrive as it's cooked so it's totally fresh'. Whether this is really 'traditional' is a matter of debate, but the key point is that your perception has been changed so that you're not offended when you don't get a series of courses with each person's dishes turning up at the same time – and happily subscribe to a process that's more efficient for the restaurant.

The main thing you'll learn is that the brain doesn't work the way you think it does – and from the people don't behave the way you think they should (or the way they think they do). Challenging the preconception of traditional economics (and some marketing) that people behave in rational ways means you understand them better – and it's always a them, as we're talking about average behaviour for large groups of people rather than individuals – and have a better chance of influencing them with what you create.

Despite the speakers having CVs including at least three doctorates, the talks are as refreshingly jargon-free as an episode of QI – in line with the conference's audience ranging from creatives to planners to some of OglivyChange's clients.

There are also a couple of talks that touch on very relevant areas for creatives – including Tim Hartford's story that explains why true creativity needs enforced randomness (and not just the safe world of minor iterations offered by most A/B testing in UX, for example).

Tim Harford – Why Frustration Makes us Creative

Dr Tali Sharot – Why Our Brains are Biased towards Optimism, and What that Makes us Do

Dr Isabel Behncke – The Biology of Fun (and What we can Learn about Trust and Reward from Apes)

Dr Molly Crockett – The Psychology of Morality and Money

Dave Trott being the Arthur Smith of Advertising

Rory Sutherland explains behavioural economics (from 2 mins in)

And finally, a bit about Oglivy Change's behavioural economics-led projects from MD Richard Chataway

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