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Nudgestock 2022: Towards a Sensemaking Genome


On the ten year anniversary of Nudgestock, president of the Ogilvy Centre for Behavioural Science Chris Graves explains why we need to decode our fellow humans first, before trying to change their behaviours, writes LBB’s Zoe Antonov

Nudgestock 2022: Towards a Sensemaking Genome

It has been ten years of Nudgestock, and this year the event promised to be “bigger” and “more clever” than ever, and with just one glance of the schedule for today, you can see that they didn’t disappoint. Curated by Ogilvy Consulting, with topics spanning sustainability and diversity, misinformation, polarisation and vaccination, and how the future is behavioural science, this year’s viewers were also able to network in a purpose built “Nudgeverse” that anybody could be part of!

As mentioned above, a large chunk of the topics covered at this year’s event were largely tied with behavioural change and customer psychology. Chris Graves, the president of the Ogilvy Centre for Behavioural Science and “half the brains” behind Ogilvy’s award-winning cognitive profiling tool, was on the virtual stage this afternoon speaking about a move towards a “sensemaking genome™” and why we need to “decode our fellow humans first before trying to change their behaviours.” Chris spoke of the limitations of nudges and how by learning about how differently individuals make sense of the world, we can see which nudges may work more or less effectively depending on personal “wiring”, or the “Hidden Who™”. All of this ultimately would help to determine what creative framing, copywriting, tonality and editing should really look like depending on the audience, and what tool does adland need to achieve them.

To kick off the talk on the Sensemaking Genome™, Chris began with a recent study between Ogilvy and Instapanel, that came in just this week with 52 responses. Chris provided a number of behavioural science lenses that not only adland, but any behavioural related industry looks through to determine behaviours and patterns in individuals in various ways. “This is very different from a traditional behavioural economics nudge which is looking at the whole species. We’re finding out more and more that different nudges work differently and not the same on every individual. That’s because, of course, we’re wired very, very differently.” Instead of looking at ‘the real why’ when it comes to the cognitive biases of the whole species, Chris explains that what needs to be looked at is the personal worldview and cognitive styles of the individual, in the so-called ‘Hidden Who’. 

After picking up a basket of awards, Ogilvy began to get more confident about the approach of delving into the human Sensemaking Genome. “And let me explain what we mean when we say the ‘Sensemaking Genome’. There are these tests, and a whole bunch of others. We’re looking at the ‘Big Five’ personality, then cultural cognition - which is your identity tied to your worldview - then the degrees of religiosity, locus of control (are you an external feeling or internal feeling person?). We also test for regulatory focus, whether you are more promotion oriented, going for the big new attainment or goal, or about avoiding risk and harm. We also test for the John Heights moral foundations theory with its five pillars. We test for need for affect - who avoids emotion and who approaches emotion. We test bullshit receptivity.”

So when you put it all together, it becomes a new genome. “It is not good enough to just find out attitudes or even behaviour. This genome delves down into the real Why inside of people,” explained Chris. 

After partnering with Instapanels and gathering the 52 responses from all around the world, the conducted study carried out quantitative and qualitative research. “We gave a stimulus. We worked with the City of Chicago Department of Public Health, to try to promote vaccine uptake, and they created a number of different asset materials.” The first comparison of assets, both tailored for social six-second-long clips, were of Dr. Joy and Dr. Trotter aiming to convince parents to vaccinate their children in two slightly, but crucially different ways.

While Dr. Joy explained to parents that the children’s vaccine contains only ⅓ of the adult vaccine, Dr. Trotter gave the information that already eight million children have been vaccinated. This is the crucial difference between testing avoiding harm, in Dr. Joy’s case, as many parents have shown hesitancy when it comes to vaccinating their kids and the possible side effects, and on the other hand the tried and true approach of norming, telling parents that already there has been a large number of kids that have had the vaccine. In this case the study showed that norming was the giant winner compared to avoiding harm.

Then Chris pointed to another “head to head battle” between, again, Dr. Joy’s approach and six-year-old Brynn, explaining to the audiences how old she is and simply letting them know that she is vaccinated! While some responded to the reduced harm approach through Dr. Joy, others largely preferred the aspect method, responding to six-year-old Brynn and the emotion that she brought into the campaign. “What we find here is not a giant insight that two different people find two different messages that resonate, but what is new, is that instead of just dividing these by demographics, we’re looking at those who are very similar in demographic statistics, but they split very interestingly through the way their inner wiring is different.” 

It turns out, those who believed Dr. Joy and little Brynn were about the same amount, but as you step down through the different tests of the sensemaking genome, you begin to see very different splits coming from The Hidden Who™, not from traditional market research of demographics. “With Dr. Joy we find that those who are more prevention oriented have a regulatory focus, but those who were promotion focused are leaning much more toward aspect.” At the divide between religion and science, those leaning towards science sided with Dr. Joy, but those leaning towards religion went the opposite direction. “But something bizarre is that when we asked them about beliefs and facts, those who put more emphasis on beliefs aligned more with the cognitive message, whereas those who put facts over beliefs leaned more towards the message from Brynn,” explained Chris, proving the importance of these new very in depth tests to reveal the Sensemaking Genome™.

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LBB Editorial, Fri, 10 Jun 2022 16:13:41 GMT