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Books by Darren Bridger

Neuro Design

Today, businesses of all sizes generate a great deal of creative graphic media and content, including websites, presentations, videos and social media posts. Most big companies, including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Tesco and Google, now use neuroscience research and theories to optimise their digital content. Neuro Design opens up this new world of neuromarketing design theories and recommendations, and describes insights from the growing field of neuroaesthetics that will enable readers to enhance customer engagement with their website and boost profitability.
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Decoding the Irrational Consumer

Marketers increasingly understand that consumer decisions are often irrational, emotional and subconscious. A new generation of research tools, including behavioural economics, eye-tracking, implicit response measures, and facial coding can measure and illuminate these irrational drives. However, whilst there are many books on this subject, none cover all these techniques and the key theories in a way that helps marketers become neuroliterate. Decoding the Irrational Consumer equips marketers and researchers with an understanding of each neuromarketing tool, its relative strengths and weaknesses, and how to use it to generate consumer insights. Decoding the Irrational Consumer demonstrates how to interpret data and turn it into actionable insights. It explains the pros and cons of each data-source, and when to use them. Finally, it explains when and how data from different sources can be combined. By reading this book, practitioners will have all the key conceptual and theoretical tools to take control of understanding subconscious responses. From briefing the data-processing people, to conferring with neuroscientists and technicians, they will be in the best position to glean practical insights from the data.
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Boost Your Memory

Do you wish you could find ways to improve your memory? Perhaps you’re always forgetting anniversaries need to improve your exam performance or simply want some tips for keeping your brain supple as you get older. In this book I provide a comprehensive explanation of every strategy and technique that can help you boost your memory (and bust a few myths about things that won’t help!). The brain training exercises included will help you make and store new memories effectively and rearrange your existing memories for more effective recall. Discover:

  • Brilliant techniques for remembering names and faces
  • Great ideas for recalling lists – no more writing reminders on the back of your hand
  • How to ensure you never forget where you parked the car or lose your keys again
  • How eating well, exercising and certain (but not all!) supplements can help keep your brain in tip-top shape
  • Why its never too late to learn new information, from skills for work, to languages
  • Amazing memory party tricks
  • How to memorise all your computer/Internet passwords
  • The 300-year old system that will enable you to store vast amounts of information in your memory.
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Boost Your Memory

Train your digit span
Your digit span is a little-known aspect of memory, but train it and not only will your memory improve, but you’ll increase your IQ too!

“The span of absolute judgment and the span of immediate memory impose severe limitations on the amount of information that we are able to receive, process, and remember.” Psychologist, George A Miller.

Seven bits of information seems to be the natural limit of our mental ‘desktop’ on which we do our thinking. Increase this memory space and reap the benefits.

Humans seem to have a predilection for the number seven, it crops up again and again through history. We talk of seven deadly sins, seas, days of the week, wonders of the world, ages of man and so on. It seems Humanity never met a number seven it didn’t like. Could this be related to some in-built feature of the way we think?  In 1956, the psychologist, George Miller published what became one of the most famous psychology papers of all time: ‘The magical number seven, plus or minus two’. Miller reasoned that most people can hold in their minds between five and nine ‘bits’ of information. This is why telephone numbers are typically seven digits long, as this about the limit of what people can remember in one go.

This limited amount of information is referred to as our digit span, or working memory. Working memory is like the desktop of the mind: it’s where our brains do their conscious thinking work. Information is constantly flowing into and out of our working memory. It is also referred to as short term memory, as it rarely lasts more than about 30 seconds. In order to make judgements and calculations we need to use our working memory. When asked to distinguish between musical tones, for example, people can distinguish between no more than about 6. This is nothing to do with our hearing abilities, it seems that we can typically only distinguish between about 7 categories of items at once due to our working memory. Equally, if you quickly flash up a number of dots on a computer screen and ask people to tell you how many there were, once you use more than around 7 dots, people start to make errors: fewer than seven dots and they accurately count them, more than seven and they will guess.

So, is this an in-built limit of our brains? It seems it might be. The explanation is technical, but it seems that its to do with the interplay of two frequency-patterns in our cortex (the uppermost part of the brain, which is more developed in Humans than animals). One frequency, called theta, is the neurons firing at around 5 times per second, another, called gamma, fires at around 35 times per second. One theory is that the number of gamma pulses you have for every theta pulse is what determines your digit span. In other words, thirty-five divided by five is seven. The theory seems to make sense, but no-one really knows at the moment if its actually true.

The implications of this is that its best to organize information – both for yourself and others – into no more than seven categories. Think of them as seven boxes which you can use to put information in. If you can pack the information tightly together, then you can get more than one thing in each box. For example, if you have two or three bits of information that are closely linked in your mind, such that the mere mention of one of them will trigger the other bits, then that one group will only use up one of your seven boxes. Therefore you can increase the amount you can hold in your working memory by making close associations between individual bits of information.

Working memory varies between individuals, and seems to account for between about a quarter and half of the variation in intelligence between individuals. In other words: the greater your working memory capacity, the greater your intelligence is likely to be. There’s also evidence that suggests by training yourself you can increase your digit span, and therefore increase your intelligence and ability to concentrate on information. To train your digit span, write out series of numbers, gradually increasing their length, read each series out once, then look away and try to recall it in reverse order. Start with around 7, and make sure you can easily handle that, before moving onto 8 and so on.

How did it go?

Are there any other ways to improve my working memory in everyday life?
Yes, cut out distractions. If you need to concentrate when you are working, seek out a quiet environment. You can also try making notes and talking to yourself to increase your ability to hold information in mind. Writing things down releases a bit of the pressure of holding information in mind all at once.

How can I keep information in my working memory?

It seems that maintaining information in working memory mainly works in terms of sound, rather than images or concepts. In other words, you imagine the sound – such as the sound of yourself speaking the information – over and over in order to hold onto it. You’ve probably experienced this when trying to remember a phone number you’ve just heard, whilst searching for something to write it down on!

Here’s an idea for you:
Keep an eye out for games that will help you to train your digit span. There are many card games and video games which require the player to memorise a number of bits of information. Practice at these will enable you to increase the volume of information you can hold at once in your working memory, whilst also having fun!

Think Smart, Act Smart (‘Get It Done’ in US and Canada)

Think Smart, Act Smart (called ‘Get it Done’ in US and Canada)
This is a compact book with loads of techniques to help improve your decision-making. Learn how to focus your mind, solve everyday problems, make the right decisions, and really get things done – with the help of a whole new range of thinking strategies. Use your brain as the all-purpose tool it was always meant to be – a tool for living.

  • Learn how to get things done more effectively – from initial analysis to final action
  • Sharpen your mind – banish distraction and irrelevance and achieve laser-like focus when you need it
  • Think your way through any problem or dilemma confidently and creatively, no matter how complex or confusing
  • Master the art of beating stress when working under pressure, so your thinking is calm and right ‘on-the-button’
  • Do more work in less time by using your brain more effectively
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Think Smart, Act Smart (‘Get It Done’ in US and Canada)

An excerpt from ‘Think Smart, Act Smart’/’Get It Done’

Chapter Three: Analysing Options

Will this go on forever?
Estimating how long a situation will last can often affect how you view that situation and any decisions you take regarding it. If you knew, for example, that there was a better than even chance that your unpleasant new neighbours would move away within two years, that could affect how you decide to handle an ongoing dispute with them. But is it feasible to predict how long things will last?

An interesting perspective on this problem was devised by American physicist J. Richard Gott. In 1969, Gott visited the Berlin wall (built in 1961) and wondered how long it would remain standing. As there was nothing special about the time he’d picked to visit it, he reasoned that if he could divide the wall’s lifetime into four quarters, there was a 50 percent chance that he was somewhere within the middle two quarters. Based on this assumption, he reckoned that there was a 50 per cent chance that the wall would last from one-third to three times as long as it had already (more than two and two-thirds but less than 24 years). The wall was actually demolished 20 years later, in 1989.

Gott also estimated that there was a 95 per cent chance humanity would continue to exist for another 5,100 to 7.8 million years. The huge range results from his seeking such a high probability. The greater the certainty required, the wider the time span will need to be.

You can use the Duration Calculator (shown below), based on Gott’s formula, to predict approximately how long an object or situation will last, without needing to know anything other than its current age. For the calculation to work, there should be nothing special about the starting point. You can’t, for example, use it to predict the length of a friend’s marriage at the time of the wedding, because you are at a predetermined point: the start. Neither is it realistic for things that have a well-established average duration, such as a Human life. The calculation also works best on shorter time spans. With time-scales that run in to decades or even longer periods, you can only produce impractically broad estimates.

Some further examples for which this method can be applied include:
How much longer is your car likely to keep running?
How long might the company you work for last?
(and one for fun) How long will the current number 1 book/film/single stay at the top?
While not amazingly accurate, this technique can certainly provide a different view that could influence your decision-making.

This calculation will give you a quick estimate of how long an object or situation might last, with a 60 per cent chance of being correct – better than evens and without producing an unworkably broad time span.
Take the time (in weeks, months or years) that your object or situation has already been in existence.
Multiply by 4 to give the longest time probably left.
Divide by 4 to give the shortest time probably left.

The Soul of the New Consumer

“This is such an enjoyable, important and timely book. Required reading.”
– Tim Waterstone, Management Today

“The Soul of the New Consumer is likely to shape the marketing messages you see, hear and read in the first years of the new century. For anyone in the business of sending those messages, it’s an enlightening and compelling guide.”
– BookPage, US – March 2000

(Various international editions)

My first book, co-authored with David Lewis, was released in 2000. It covers trends in consumer behaviour driven by, in part, the emergence of the Internet. Published in six languages.

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The Soul of the New Consumer

An Excerpt from ‘The Soul of the New Consumer’

From Chapter 1: From Abundance to authenticity: The rise of the new consumers

In the second half of the 20th Century, we have gradually learnt to talk and think of each other and ourselves less as workers, citizens, parents or teachers and more as consumers. Yiannis Gabriel and Tim Lang, The Unmanagable Consumer

American author and poet Shel Silverstein has coined the word Tesarac to describe those periods of history when momentous social and cultural changes occur. During a Tesarac, society becomes increasingly chaotic and confusing before reorganizing itself in ways that no one can accurately predict or easily anticipate. It is an era when, in the words of MIT’s Shelley Turkle: “Old things are dead or dying and one cannot make out what will happen next.”

Silverstein believes that the changes taking place as society travels through the Teserac are so profound that nobody born one side of this ‘wrinkle in time’ will ever be able to understand fully what life was like before it occurred. A similar view has been expressed by Peter Drucker who, in his book Post-Capitalist society, describes how, every few centuries, western society crosses what he terms a ‘divide’. He cites the changes that took place in eighteenth-century Europe when the center of communal life moved from the countryside into the city. Craft guild members became the dominant social group, scholarship abandoned isolated monasteries for new universities at the heart of urban life, Latin gave way to the vernacular and Dante laid the foundation stones of European literature. ‘Within a few short decades, society rearranges itself,’ says Drucker, ‘it’s world view; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions. Fifty years later there is a new world. And the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born.’

We are passing through a Tesarac and cannot accurately predict what the outcome will be. What is already apparent, however, is that manufacturers and suppliers trapped on the wrong side of this wrinkle in time will find themselves increasingly overwhelmed by the vastness of the changes it portends. Their more flexible, better informed and astute competitors who have moved through the Tesarac and understand the nature of the new economy will be able to tap into the change and sweep onward to undreamed-of levels of success.

From Chapter 4: Tastespace, the ultimate mall

Outside Pheonix, Arizona, is a low-rise building flanked by verdant lawns and surrounded by a chainlink fence, which appears so similar to any of the city’s other high-tech office blocks that a casual passerby might easily mistake it for just another corporate headquarters.

Appearances are deceptive.

All the gleaning windows are false and the structure is a concrete iceberg, mostly buried deep beneath the ground. Located directly beneath the Phoenix airport flight path, it was designed to withstand the direct impact of a crashing jumbo jet.

That apparently ordinary chain link fencing would stop an assault by a speeding car; the vehicle would simply bounce straight back off it. Should some more powerful intruders, such as terrorists driving a tank, manage to penetrate the outer defences, they would be in for a shock. The neatly manicure lawns cover deep, concrete lined trenches into which the trespassers would plunge.

What extraordinary secrets could demand such a high level of costly and intricate defences? Nuclear missiles or the designs for a new stealth bomber?

The surprising answer is something far less warlike and, in many ways, considerably more valuable – detailed information on the spending habits of millions of American Express card holders around the world.

This is the AMEX decision sciences Centre, worldwide computer HQ for the American Express organisation and the place in which data on every one of its members is stored. The building’s mainframe computers know just about everything there is to know about the members: where they most like to shop, what and when they most frequently purchase, the destinations to which they travel on business or pleasure and they’re preferred means of transport, the restaurants that patronise, and even the economic conditions of their home countries.

By making use of this detailed personal information, American Express is able to make its members offers they find hard to refuse. Precisely targeted mailings are sent to groups of carefully selected card owners, encouraging them to invest some scarcest time and attention by ensuring that each precisely corresponds to their individual interests. ‘this moves us closer true micro marketing,’ notes Daniel Miller, of University College, London. ‘some offers have gone to have as few as 20 people.’