Not only were sales boosted, but to everyone’s surprise, a year later it had another far more unexpected result. The chain began to be inundated by letters from mothers attesting to the spellbinding effect the shopping center had on their now newborns. It turns out the moment they entered the mall, the babies calmed down.
Fear is a Powerful Emotion!
Counterintuitive though it sounds, there is a real biological basis behind our attraction to fear. Fear raises our adrenalin, creating that primal, instinctual (fight or flight) response. This, in turn, release epinephrine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that produces, as many “adrenalin junkies” will attest to, a deeply satisfying sensation.
Our brains are hardwired to fear potential threats. We come into the world knowing how to be afraid, because our brains have evolved to deal with nature. Fear is far more powerful than reason. It evolved to deal with nature. Fear is far more powerful than reason. It evolved as a mechanism to protect us from life-threatening situations. The fear centers are situated in the most ‘ancient’ (evolutionary) section of our brain, know as the reptilian brain, which goes back to when vertebrates were primarily in the oceans and were likely to survive if they had the neural capacities to evade “the bigger fish” sooner than their companions did.
When a threat is perceived, the body goes into automatic mode, redirecting blood to certain parts of the body and away from the brain. The respiratory response also decreases blood supply to the brain, literally making a person unable to think clearly. In other words, the loss of blood to a person’s brain can make him or her stupid, literally.
Most of us are scared about the economy, of losing our jobs, and of defaulting on our mortgages. We’re scared that our spouse or partner might leave us. We’re scared of loneliness and having no friends. We’re scared of sexual inadequacy. Of getting cancer. Of getting old and breaking a hip. Of death. We’re scared of driving and we’re scared of flying. We’re scared of terrorists and of global warming. We’re scared of the dark.
It’s these seemingly infinite fears, some planted in our minds by marketers and advertisers, others merely amplified by them, that drives us to buy triple moisturizing cream, teeth whitening strips and multi-vitamins. Not to mention gym membership and organic food and bottled water and humidifiers.