This in an excerpt from this book
Nonconscious, unconscious, or subconscious?
Brain versus mind: The word brain tends to be used when people talk about anatomical structures or circuitry in the brain. The term mind tends to be used to refer to the subjective cognitive states a brain creates. For example, the prefrontal cortex is an anatomical part of the brain, but attention is a cognitive “state of mind” produced by activity in the brain.
Generally, we use these terms interchangeably. We consider “nonconscious processes in the brain” to be equivalent to “the nonconscious mind.”
Unconscious, subconscious, preconscious, and nonconscious: There is a lot of intellectual baggage associated with all the terms that can be used to refer to the “not-conscious” processes in the brain. Unconscious has some bad connotations, in terms of both the Freudian unconscious and the association with anesthetized states. Subconscious, in turn, carries a “secondary” or “subsidiary” connotation, as if it’s something below and, therefore, less than the conscious. A similar term is preconscious, which often would be perfectly appropriate, but it implies that conscious always follows preconscious, and this isn’t always true. Given all these issues, we use the more neutral term nonconscious in this book. Using this term has the benefit of referring neutrally to “everything other than conscious”; plus, it’s the term that’s becoming the standard in the academic literature.
Here, we use the term brain science to refer to all the scientific fields that underlie neuromarketing. We do this because we want to emphasize that the one obvious scientific source for neuromarketing — neuroscience — is not the only brain science that underlies neuromarketing. In fact, neuromarketing is built on top of at least three basic science fields, which, taken together, we refer to as the brain sciences, or simply brain science. In recent years, social psychology has focused on the impact of nonconscious processes on human actions. It’s most relevant to understanding how conscious and nonconscious brain processes work together in consumer choice and behavior.
Because we want this book to be a reference for all aspects of neuromarketing, our definition of the field is quite broad. We define neuromarketing as any marketing or market research activity that uses the methods and techniques of brain science or is informed by the findings or insights of brain science. (For more on brain science, see the next section.) Ultimately, neuromarketing is about solving exactly the same problems that all types of market research aim to solve: how a company should best spend its advertising. If neuromarketing is worth its salt, it has to help marketers solve these problems better than other types of research.
It’s just another type of market research, subject to the same constraints of time, money, and usefulness as any other type of research that is performed every day. Neuromarketing versus marketing
Some people believe that neuromarketing is a field devoted to influencing people to buy things — often things they don’t really need — and that it’s, therefore, a bad and dangerous thing to do. Part of the blame for this misconception lies with the term itself. Neuromarketing sounds suspiciously like a different (and nefarious) type of marketing, but it’s not.
Here’s the distinction you need to keep in mind:
Marketing is a field devoted to influencing people to like things, and ultimately to buy things, including things they may not need. Marketers are aware that people have brains. Marketing, therefore, is now and always has been devoted to influencing brains.
Neuromarketing is a new way to measure whether and how marketing is working. Neuromarketers believe it’s a better way to measure marketing because it’s based on a more realistic understanding of how consumers’ brains operate (we discuss the evidence for this claim in this script.
Taking this broad view of neuromarketing, there are three major ways that it can help us better understand marketing and consumer behavior: It can tell us what’s going on in people’s brains while they’re experiencing a marketing stimulus (any marketing material presented in a controlled research test). It can tell us how brains react to marketing stimuli presented in different situational contexts (for example, alone or next to competing products, at different retail points, online versus a store and so on. Brain’s interpretations and translation of those reactions directly to consumer behaviors as well as decisions [for example, whether to switch their loyalty to other options available or to continue with the same brand].
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