How Your Marketing Can Take Advantage Of The Brain’s Tendency To Be a “Causality Machine”


Everything is obvious once you know the answer. Right? Once you know a product or service is proven then your decision becomes much easier, obvious, even a surefire bet. So as marketers, how do we create a scenario for our buyers where they feel they already know the answer?

Sociologist Duncan Watts* claims our brains are “causality machines.” Essentially, when you experience something, your brain creates a causal story that accounts for it. Your brain wants to rationalize why things happened the way they did.

The question is: “how do you grease the skids to speed up rationalization?”

Well for one, buyers never want to be the guinea pig. Therefore if you can show them the answer while they’re shopping, they’ll be more apt to trust your brand, because well, they have now rationalized this to be true.

Think about it:

  • 70% of Americans say they consult product reviews or consumer ratings before making a purchase. [source]
  • 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. [source]
  • Shoppers who use dressing rooms are 71% more likely to buy versus those shoppers who just browse the sales floor. [source]
  • Shoppers who use dressing rooms buy approximately two times what the browser buys. And they return less. [source]

Yes, some of this is a fancy way of saying “social proof” and risk reduction is important. But what’s more important is the questions you should be asking in your marketing:

  • What can I do to speed up rationalization?
  • How could I get the brain to tell more causal stories, make more causal connections?
  • If I were the buyer, what collections of points/messages would help me better rationalize my purchase?

Write down the answers and then go look at your marketing.

*Duncan Watts coined the phrase everything is obvious once you know the answer, it’s actually the title of his book.

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