What do brain science and semiotics have in common? Semiotics and cultural studies reveal the systems of signs that exist in culture and other belief systems, where cultural context matters. Behavioural economics, social psychology and brain science all demonstrate that even small changes in the environment (context) can lead to huge changes in human behaviour. They both show that context matters much more than we admit, through shared cultural values, the ways in which meaning is ‘situated’ in particular contexts, and the interaction between context, emotional meaning and the link between behaviour and emotional context.
Archive for the 'context' Category
A recent article by Neil Perkins at OnlyDeadFish, talking about the future of search, is well worth reading for any marketer or researcher. For me, the most interesting part of the article discusses the increasing importance of context for search engines, referencing a talk by Will Crtichlow also called The Future Of Search. Read more »
“There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation.” - W.C. Fields
In What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the effects of the fundamental attribution error (FAE) in several different articles. For example, in one chapter he discusses the Challenger disaster and the impossibility of having complete control of complex technologies and systems, arguing that attempts to find causes and scapegoats in such situations are futile. Without acknowledging the FAE, his argument in the chapter touches on the desire of all of us to attribute outcomes, and especially bad outcomes, to specific traits of the people involved rather than the situation they are in. Read more »
In a thought provoking article on BBC News website, Michael Blastland discusses the use of the “Don’t know” response in social surveys and argues that “Don’t know” often masks an “It depends” response. I agree with him that respondents often feel that “Don’t know” is a default answer, in the face of insufficient context, and Robert Bain also talked about this in his recent article on being a fake online respondent. Read more »
In 1969, at the peak of the Vietnam War, progressive rock group Jethro Tull recorded one of their best-known songs, Living in the Past. For a reminder of its unusual 5/4 time signature, and the even more unusual flute playing of Ian Anderson visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsCyC1dZiN8. The song seems to be about people wishing to live in peaceful times (the “past” mentioned in the song) rather than at a time of war and turmoil (the “present”).
(Please note, this article contains plot spoilers!)
Inception is based on the notion of “exploring the idea of people sharing a dream space — entering a dream space and sharing a dream. That gives you the ability to access somebody’s unconscious mind. What would that be used and abused for?”
Several of our previous posts (eg Rules that Make the Inception,The Real Me) have outlined the importance of context in determining our behavior. The situation can bring out the devil even in the most normal of people. I wanted to explore context a bit more in this post, especially with respect to social roles and performances. As a change from our last rather serious post I have embedded a bit of comedy here, hope you enjoy!
I recall on holiday last year reading Elliot Aronson’s sociology course text book, “The Social Animal”. Heavy reading perhaps for the beach in Bali, but I devoured it faster than any Stephen King pulp fiction. What amazed me at the time was how clearly it demonstrates the malleability of human beings to social influence. It left me feeling that we were all, well rather daft creatures, and that our sense of autonomy was probably often an illusion.
The World Cup Football 2010 has started. England fans and the British media are extremely unhappy with performance of their team. Two draws into the tournament and fans are booing the players off the pitch, newspapers are suggesting the coach must go, WaGs (Wives and Girlfriends) are being flown out to ‘boost the boy’s morale’. As the final group game approaches next week, a Sky News presenter offered a ray of hope, “England tend to perform better with their backs against the wall”. I noted the same media driven feeding frenzy happening at the recent congressional hearing for BP CEO Tony Hayward.
One of the key skills in developing insights and solving all kinds of problems is to ask the right questions. In Zensights, we identified six key themes for simplifying complex data, the first four of which revolve around asking the right questions: what is the real problem?, what is the context?, what frameworks can I use to understand the problem?, and how can I structure the information to simplify the problem?. At heart, problem solving and insight discovery are creative processes, where divergent thinking will give the best chance to find elegant and profound new truths. Although it may seem contradictory, divergent thinking can be structured through planning different ways to look at problems, or by asking a wider range of questions.