System 1: Make Sure Thinking is Easy

If you have been following the other articles on our site, you might have picked up a theme: you have two minds inside your brain. This is fascinating, and has far-reaching consequences for neuromarketing. It influences the way context affects decisions.


The minds are called System 1 and System 2. System 1 thinking is fast, relies on intuition and runs on ‘autopilot’ without us having to think about it. Most of what we do depends on System 1, because we are not aware of most of what we do. System 2, on the other hand, is slow, deliberative and takes a lot of effort. Here, I will focus on System 1. (System 2 will be covered in the next post.)

What causes System 1 to be engaged?

  • Repeating information many times over
  • Clear display (bold text versus non-bold text)
  • Priming an idea
  • Being in a good mood


The consequences are even more interesting. Doing any of the above will lead to information feeling more familiar; names or information will feel as though it is more true (even if they are not at all true); it feels good (emotionally), and will feel effortless.


Sometimes marketers would want System 1 to be engaged, because we want consumers to process information faster and with less effort so as to pay attention and not lose interest. How can System 1 thinking be engaged?

  • Emphasising text by making important phrases bold or with a different colour


  • Repeating repeating a specific fact that is core to the company over and over will make consumers slowly ‘give in’ to the idea that it is, in fact, true. This idea also links with what is known as ‘ego depletion’; the fact that the more a person is asked to do something, the more likely they are to give in to the idea, because will power ‘strains’ under the constant pressure to say ‘no’.


  • Marketing on/ just before weekends, when consumers are more likely to be in a good mood and more likely believe what the company promotional material communicates


  • Text that rhyme is more easily processed that text that does not rhyme, because it is more easily processed by the brain and remembered. This is why companies that advertise their name or a telephone number in a rhyme is more easily remembered.


  • Even high-quality paper also plays a role. I think metaphors also play a role here, because the heavier an object is that we’re holding, the more weight (importance) we attach to it


* Did you spot the repeated ‘repeating’ word? Of course you did!

Leave a Reply