Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Manging Your Moods

Fat and jolly? Or depressed?

Posted by Butch Rice on Sep 20, 2013 in Butch's Blog |
Fat and jolly? Or depressed? 
 We have been doing research into mood for some time at Pondering Panda. Why should this topic hold so much fascination for us? Well, the theory of mood congruency tells us that people are more likely to process communication that is congruent with their mood. When you are happy, your mind seeks out information to bolster your mood even further. But when you are depressed, there is a sort of confirmation bias at play, with your mind looking for communication that tells you that you are right to be depressed – hence the term ” wallowing in depression “.

This has obvious implications for the advertising industry. Does it make sense to flight a bright-eyed, singing and dancing commercial directly after a news story showing people writhing in their death throes after a chemical attack? I think not, but this rather obvious thought does not seem to occur to the majority of media planners, who buy people by the pound, as it were, assuming their probability of assimilating the message remains constant, no matter what the mood-setting tone is of the communication environment.

One of the things we have been doing in our ” research into research ” program is to measure the impact of being interviewed in a normal survey on a respondent’s mood, particularly when the questions make them think about some of the unpleasant facts of life, such as their future prospects on the job market, for example. We have also looked at the relationship between mood and self image, measured in terms of weight and intelligence, which will be presented in detail by Shirley Wakefield, Panda Keeper at Pondering Panda at the Marketing Research in a Mobile World conference (MRMW) being held in London in October. Shirley will take the stage on the 9th, with fascinating insights into tracking and influencing mood, and the challenges of conducting mobile research in emerging markets. I don’t want to steal too much of her thunder, but will share some of our research results here.

Many researchers have found that the overall mood of a population remains stubbornly constant. This has also been our experience. When looking at the mood of the nation, it takes a lot to shake it out of a seeming complacency. Something like the Marikana massacre does depress people, but within a remarkably short space of time, they bounce back.
So, what does influence mood? Why are some people happy, while others are not? Are the things that influence mood more likely to be external factors, such as depressing news, or more likely to be factors related to self perception? Are fat people more likely to be jolly or depressed?

To enrich our understanding of mood and what influences it, we decided to explore the impact of self-image, when it comes to intelligence. What is the self perception of intelligence, and how does this influence mood? My first concern was with the question itself. Wouldn’t most people describe themselves as of average or above average intelligence? Remarkably, not. The results we obtained from our survey showed that our respondents’ self perception was not far off the reality of the bell-curve distribution of IQ.

We found interesting demographic differences. One rather sad one being that black respondents were more likely to think of themselves as having below average intelligence than were whites. But, most importantly, the self perception of intelligence correlates with mood. The more intelligent, the more likely the person is to be happy. Of course, it might be a spurious correlation. Brighter people are more likely to be more materially successful, which could be a more powerful causal factor. This is something we intend exploring in more depth in the months ahead.

Start observing your own moods. And seeing just how much they impact on how you interact with the world of marketing. When you are feeling down, are you the remotest bit interested in a marketing message for some or other brand?

I don’t think we have scratched the surface of the relationship between mood and the receptivity of marketing messages. Make people happy, even for only a short space of time, and your message will be more likely to be positively received. Start thinking of ways to make people happy, and put a smile on their faces, and you will end up with a smile yourself. You don’t have to be fat to be jolly…

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