Brain Science and Personality Type

[adsense float=’left’]Is it really true that different personality types use their brains in much the same way? The answer is “Yes!” That was the resounding conclusion of the book “Neuroscience of Personality: Brain Savvy Insights for All Types of People” by Dario Nardi, Phd.

I picked up this book after watching his Google Talks video, and I’m glad I did. It gives reams of facts that support all the personality traits that we’ve been discussing here on this web site. If you ever thought that conversing with business prospects on a personality-level was unproven, then this book will make you think twice.

Neuroscience of Personality

Neuroscience of Personality – Brain Savvy Insights for All Types of People, by Dario Nardi, Ph.D.

Dr. Nardi is a researcher at UCLA, and he studied the electrical activity in the brain, and compared it to the individual’s personality type. Basically, he hooked the participants of his study up to an EEG machine and recorded where the energy occurred on the brain, as well as the frequency of the electrical signals. From this, he could get an idea of which regions of the brain were active in different situations.

The results are pretty compelling, as far as personality type goes. “Half of the lab subjects shared 70% to 90% of their brain activity with other people of the same type.” In other words, just to paraphrase, your brain works pretty consistently to other people that have the same personality type as you do. In effect, Dr. Nardi claims that he could classify a persons personality type by simply looking at where their brain is used when they do specific activities.

That’s pretty impressive. But there was a lot of other useful information that I gleaned from this book as well. Even though some of it we’ve talked about before, it is nice to have it backed up by scientific research.

What I found is that there is a lot of persuasion ideas buried in this book, but you have to read between the lines. It is a pure research book, so you have to be able to take the conclusions and apply them to other areas of life. The area that interests me, is selling and persuasion. With that said, I’ll give you some of the ideas that I picked up from this book:

  • “You can quickly engage people by appealing to tasks that trigger their favorite brain regions” – Not only can you create quick rapport with people, but it means you can provide triggers to get them to take action (such as noticing your sales presentation). For example, people with the Warrior personality type easily enter into a “scan for opportunity” brain pattern (called the tennis hop pattern by Dr. Nardi) by having them play simple tactical video games. The Morale Officer’s brain lights up like a Christmas tree with activities such as creative word play. It only takes a single magic word or a short phrase to make their brains light up with energy. And it is personality-type dependent; which means that you need to know who you are dealing with so you can feed them the right phrase.
  • People don’t distinguish so much between fantasy and reality when it comes to brain activity. This means that behavioral triggers for people don’t have to be elaborate. As just mentioned, even simple words or phrases can have profound impact on a person’s behavior. For example, having a Strategist imagine a future scenario (or having them say the words “I will”) is as real to them as actually experiencing it first-hand.
  • Watching TV has a similar effect on brain activity as does meditating or sleeping deeply. The amount of energy put out during viewing TV is very minimal. Because of this, you might want to rethink that decision to create a TV advertisement for your products. It is much better to have people play video games if you want them to engage their brains.
  • Brain activity falls off to near zero when a person “gives up.” That means, you will lose “brain lock” (rapport) with your prospect if you have them perform something too difficult. This is why you’ve been told to make the ordering-process easy for your prospects. If they find it too challenging, they will give up and go buy from your competitor.
  • People with the Morale Officer personality type have a region of the brain (called T3 in the book) that gets active with pictures or symbols. If you’re selling to this type of person, you’ll want to have lots of emotional imagery and metaphors in your sales material. On the flip side, with the Warrior and Logisitical personality types, you’ll want to avoid using metaphors and speak more literally.
  • The Morale Officer person also has a region that gets active easily (T5). When active, they feel they are being watched. Therefore, the simple stimulus of just saying the words “you are being watched” will also trigger the region to become energized.
  • People with the Logistical personality type favor the use of the T4 region of the brain. It gets active when they get angry or annoyed. That energy causes a feedback loop, which makes them even more angry or annoyed. And it doesn’t take much effort to trigger this region to become active. A single offending word will activate it.
  • Electrical energy from one region of the brain can spill over and trigger its neighbor to activate. We talked about this in the article “Who gets easily embarrassed?”
  • Warriors under use the T6 region of their brain, whereas Strategists use it a lot. To stimulate it, you can ask them if they understood why their life turned out the way it did.
  • The Morale Officer under use the P3 region of the brain. This results in them feeling a sense that they have lost their self. Warriors use this same region a lot, and have the opposite feeling – they see the world as a giant 3D grid of space, and they know exactly where they are on that grid. You can help the Morale Officer get this region energized, simply by having them point to the words on the page as they read them. This small act gives them something they crave: “confidence.”
  • The P4 region of the brain, activates when gaming strategy is needed. Obviously, people with the Strategist personality use this region the most of any of the personality types. It “helps inform us where leverage points may lie, and steer those games closer to our benefit.” That is what strategy is, after all. This region can become active, simply by having the person perform some simple math problems.
  • [adsense float=’left’]The O1 region is very active in the Logistical person. It is activated when thinking spatially, such as reading a chart, diagram, or map. If you want to sell to these types of people, by all means, use lots of charts and diagrams.
  • The O2 region is more active in the Warrior personality type. They use when they need to size up and react quickly to a situation. It also activates when appreciating art.
  • “When people receive negative input, they tend to close themselves to new information and reduce higher-level decision making.” In other words, when you criticize people, you can expect them to make no decisions at all. NEVER criticize your prospects. As Dr. Nardi puts it: “Literally, brain region Fp1 first gets active to block out the negative input and then, when in input passes the person’s threshold of tolerance, Fp1 shuts down higher reasoning altogether as the fight or flight response takes over.”

Personality Profiling Is Scientific

There was a lot of information in the book Neuroscience of Personality. I’d recommend it because it shows that there is a basis that links personality with the way the brain operates.

While it doesn’t specifically mention sales and persuasion, there is a lot of useful information that can be gleaned if you read between the lines.

Essentially, you want to activate the brain of your prospect when you sell to them. What we learned from this book is that the person’s personality will give us some clues as which part of their brain becomes active with different stimuli.

What stimulates the brain inside a Warrior is going to be different than what stimulates someone with the Morale Officer personality type. But once you know the stimuli, you can use it to activate the brain in other people of that personality type.

Using Personality Type In Marketing and Sales

If you want to know which stimuli to use on the various personality types, I can’t recommend the Personality Marketing Manual enough to you. It lists the strategies and tactics to use, depending on which personality temperament you’re targeting.


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