3 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Brain

If you’re like me, you love learning about the human brain and how it impacts our decision-making.

Before you read on…

I’m going to give you concise information, but it’s dense. So, you may want to read it over twice.

If there’s one thing I want you to takeaway from this, it’s this:

Our subconscious guides most of the decisions we make. We do what we do, without knowing it and without knowing why.

Here are the three things:

1. Our brain can’t tell the difference between familiarity & accuracy

We are more likely to vote for political candidates whose names we’ve heard of before – regardless of our opinions on their merit or policy promises. (1)

When choosing between consumer brands in an unfamiliar category, we are more likely to choose the recognized brand, regardless of quality. The brand we’ve seen more of. (1)

When making a choice on what to buy at the grocery store, we just think “Oh I’ve seen that before somewhere… I think I’ll get this one.”

Repetition and familiarity make us believe that a particular message is accurate. Sounds bizarre, but that’s what many research studies strongly suggest.


2. You might think you know why you do things, but you don’t

We make decisions emotionally, and later justify them using logic.

Part of the reason for this: Our brain physiology.

The part of our brain that is responsible for emotional responses is the amygdala, which is in the limbic system of our brain.

The part of our brain that is responsible for problem-solving, is the pre-frontal cortex. This is in the frontal lobe of our brain.

The problem is: These two parts of the brain are far away from each other, causing a disconnect between emotion & logical thinking.

Think about a time you made a decision, and later regretted it. When you look back you think, “Why did I do that?... I am so stupid!” You’re not stupid, it’s just one of the flaws of our brain!


 A psychology study published at the University of Michigan illustrates how we come to irrational conclusions (3):

4 pairs of nylon pantyhose were set up from left to right on a table:

Pair A (being the farthest left) Pair B Pair C Pair D (being the farthest right)

People walked by and were asked which pair they believed was highest quality.

The results:

Pair A: 12%

Pair B: 17%

Pair C: 31%

Pair D: 40%


When people were asked about the reasoning for their choices, people would say…

"Because that one is more elastic"

"That feels like it was knit better"

"That one’s sheerness is stronger"


 What they didn’t know: The products were all identical. We don’t know why we choose what we choose, but we immediately can logically justify our explanations.


People preferred the option on the right side.

But not a single person said, “because that pantyhose was on the right side.”



3. What you expect to experience, impacts what you actually experience

 An interesting research study done by a Stanford Researcher:

Children were given carrots, hamburgers, French fries, chicken nuggets, and milk.

 In one scenario, all foods were unbranded. In another scenario, all foods had McDonald’s packaging. The food was identical in both scenarios.

 In all five cases, the children claimed the food with McDonald’s packaging tasted better. (2)

 The children expected the McDonald’s-packaged food to taste better. The expectation led to experiencing the food as better-tasting.

 What we perceive is something we aren’t aware of. Our perception creates our expectations. And our expectations influence our actual experiences.

(1)   Wayne D. Hoyer, Steven P. Brown. “Effects of Brand Awareness on Choice for a Common, Repeat-Purchase Product.” Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 17, Issue 2, September1990, Pages 141–148, https://doi.org/10.1086/208544

(2)   Robinson TN, Borzekowski DLG, Matheson DM, Kraemer HC. Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children's Taste Preferences. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(8):792–797. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.8.792

(3)   Richard Nisbett & Timothy Wilson, “Telling More Than We Can Know: Verbal Reports on Mental Processes,” Psychological Review 84. https://home.csulb.edu/~cwallis/382/readings/482/nisbett%20saying%20more.pdf

You can also get these free guides

Don’t forget to check out our Free Guides

Free Guides