Look around; what visual elements do you see? A penguin on the fridge? A t-shirt full of skulls? Horse statue?
I bet you love many of these things. Images strongly influence us. But did you know that these items determine your behavior?
Yes, they alter your emotions and, consequently, your way of thinking and acting. This is what the neuroscientist Eric J. Nestler concluded.
Processing Visual Elements
He demonstrated that your brain selects the surrounding visual elements most relevant to that situation and ultimately your survival.
The selection of relevant information is the role of attention. This information activates the emotional circuits and produces the desired behaviors.
However, what is not processed by attention is processed in the unconscious. It doesn’t have to be reasoned for the emotional circuits to be activated and corresponding behaviors to be produced.
In conclusion, visual elements, whether perceived or not, affect our emotions and actions.
1. Ambient Scanning
Your eyes scan everything around you, bringing to your awareness only the information that supports your beliefs and values.
2. Filtering Information
At the same time, the subconscious perceives all symbols, capturing their archetypal meanings regardless of your beliefs.
3. Chemical Reactions
This involuntary process generates neurotransmitters like endorphins that incites euphoria or serotonin that reliefs stress.
4. Behavior Triggered
Then, your emotional state is stimulated; consequently, your behavior changes. The more you get exposed to the same symbol, the stronger its effect.
For example, you go to the kitchen. You scan the room for food; you put all your attention on this mission.
But that doesn’t mean that your brain isn’t processing everything in that kitchen. Your attention ignores the penguin on the refrigerator. Still, the penguin and its meaning are processed by your unconscious, activating emotional circuits and producing behaviors.
How does that penguin affect my behavior?
Visual Elements and their Meaning
What comes to your mind when you think of it? You may answer cordiality, sociability. And it is true, these are penguin characteristics. But they are also funny, clumsy, have wings, but can’t fly.
All these characteristics unconsciously will affect you. Pay attention to the fact that almost everything in the world is binary. Therefore it has its good and bad sides. It’s vital to be aware of this so that we can make the right choices.
If for you, penguins’ friendliness and sociability are more important than being clumsy and silly. That’s fine, but know that you will incorporate all these characteristics.
Let’s suppose that you want to become an independent, self-confident person. Clothes and ornaments with penguins and ducks will distance you from your goal.
But if you want to have a united family, these elements will help. You don’t believe it, do you?
Visual Elements Stimulate Corresponding Actions
Professors from Duke and Waterloo University found that even the briefest exposure to familiar brands can cause people to behave in ways that reflect those brands’ characteristics.
The researchers selected two competing brands with distinct and well-defined personalities. “Apple has worked for many years to develop a brand character associated with nonconformity, innovation, and creativity. And IBM is viewed by consumers as traditional, smart, and responsible,” said Chartrand.
More than 300 participants were divided into 2 groups; one group was exposed to the Apple logo and the other group to the IBM logo. Both marks were displayed so quickly that the participants were unaware that they had been exposed to the symbol.
“We’ve offered people $100 to tell us what logo was being flashed on the screen, and none of them could do it,” said Fitzsimons.
Then they had to complete a task to assess how creative they were. People who were subliminally exposed to the Apple logo generated more creative responses than those from IBM.
The team conducted a follow-up experiment using Disney Channel and E! Channel brands. Participants exposed to the Disney Channel logo behaved much more honestly than those who saw the E! Channel logo.
Archetypes and Symbols
Note that you don’t usually rationalize the values of a company, its meaning. When in contact with the IBM logo, would you say: smart and responsible? The same goes for the penguin and anything else.
This happens because companies, for example, associate their products and brands with archetypes. The penguin itself is an archetype.
Archetypes are part of the collective unconscious. All of us, no matter what geographical location and culture we belong to, know their characteristics.
And symbols such as logos, mandalas, drawings, and sculptures activate the represented archetype characteristics in your unconscious, changing your emotions and consequently your behavior.
This subject is extensive but crucial for everyone who wants to control their lives, both professional and personal.
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