Blindsight: Summary & Review

Blindsight book cover

Blindsight (2020) lies at the intersection between psychology, marketing, and neuroscience, and looks at how brands seek to “hijack” our brains and mental biases to sell more, at a higher price.

Exec Summary

  • The best brands “etch” themselves into our minds, and develop positive mental models and associations that “fire up” whenever we encounter the brand
  • People pay a premium when they have a positive association with a brand: because a brand with a positive association gives us more pleasure, even all else being equal
  • Social media are the new addiction industry, with features developed to take as much of your time and attention as possible


About the Authors:
Matt Johnson is a neuroscientist, writer and speaker who specializes in what he refers to as “the area at the intersection of psychology and marketing”. He holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Princeton University.
Prince Ghuman is a marketing consultant and professor of Neuromarketing at Hult International Business School.

Mental Models Mediate Our Reality

We don’t experience reality directly, but through our self-constructed mental models:

Our brains don’t experience reality directly. Instead, they construct a model of it, which neuroscientists call a mental model. Our brains are constantly modeling.

Stronger senses take precedence in shaping our mental models

Rather than prioritizing “what’s true” in the construction of mental models, our brain prioritizes our stronger senses over the others.

In humans, vision is our stronger sense, and taste the weakest.
Weaker senses can be more overridden, influenced, or manipulated because they always “lose out” against stronger senses.

Example: the McGurk effect, where the visual information from seeing a person speak changes the way we hear the sound (McGurk and MacDonald, 1976).

Beliefs can override all senses

Our beliefs change the way we perceive and feel about reality.

For example, Countless studies have shown that if people believe they’re drinking expensive wine, they report experiencing it as being more enjoyable.
The change is physiological.
One study measured via fMRI that while neurons in the pleasure center actively fired when researchers told participants they were drinking an expensive wine, nothing happened when they were told it was a cheap wine -the wine, of course, was the same-.

This means that beliefs physically change our (subjective) reality.
And a positive belief about a certain product make people enjoy that product more.

Successful brands “hack” our mental models

We don’t realize we’re even running mental models because, to us, those mental models are reality.
Mental models are also easy to influence and change. And the successful brands affect -or create- mental models that are positive for the brand.

Brands Are Belief-Based Mental Models

A brand is a set of associations:

when we talk about a brand, what we’re really referring to is the cluster of memories of all our past experiences and previously acquired knowledge related to a particular company or product.

Whenever we come into contact with that brand in the future, either if we hear the name, hear the jingle, see the logo, or see it in a shop, then all those associations fire up in our brain.
If they’re positive associations, we’re far more likely to pick the brand -often even if it’s at a premium price-.

By extension, branding is an exercise in association design.
Branding is all about creating those mental associations that automatically and subconsciously fire up when we come into contact with the brand.
Say the authors through the example of Coca-Cola:

Coca-Cola spends billions on advertising and branding each year. Why? There is hardly a soul alive on the planet who has not heard of Coca-Cola. They do it because the advertising buys them much more than name recognition—it buys them psychological association, a large patch of real estate within the semantic network.
Coca-Cola spends billions on advertising and branding each year. Why? There is hardly a soul alive on the planet who has not heard of Coca-Cola. They do it because the advertising buys them much more than name recognition—it buys them psychological association, a large patch of real estate within the semantic network.

Research has shown that telling people they were drinking Coca-Cola activated more neurons in the brain compared to people who thought they were just drinking “a cola”.

Just like expensive wine, people aren’t just telling themselves that Coca-Cola tastes better, but because of association designs, Coca-Cola actually tastes better to them.
And that neural pathway is etched in your brain, and Coca-Cola activates it any time you interact with the brand.

Say the authors:

The association has been physically etched—dare we say, branded—into your temporal lobes. Coca-Cola is literally renting real estate in your brain, but you are the one paying for it, every time you buy a Coke. Concerned? Don’t worry, just “Have a Coke and a Smile.”

This means that any brand that can build positive associations in your mind can deliver pleasure by firing up that association through mere brand exposure, and make you chase that pleasure -with your wallet-.

The same was true for Red Bull.
An experiment showed that the group who knew they were drinking Red Bull reported feeling more intoxicated and was more confident when it came to approaching women.

The law of least mental effort: why we default to “shortcuts”

Associations are often the preferred way to make decisions because while we tend to think of ourselves as rational, in reality our brains want to be as irrational as possible.

If there’s an easy way to arrive at a solution, the brain will take that route every time. This is such a stable characteristic that it’s referred to as a “law”: the law of least mental effort.

Many corporations also leverage the law of least effort to guide your behavior and to stop you from doing what may be in your best interest to do.
For example, they may bury their privacy settings behind a maze of different options and click-throughs, so that very few people prevent Facebook from using their data

To Create Memories & Associations, You Need to “Make An Impression”

A brand only works as long as it can etch a neural path in our brains.

Same for experiences: for an experience to influence behavior and future behavior, itneeds to etch a neural path in our brains.
In other words, to be effective, you need to remember it.
And to be remembered, you want to be “memorable”, or to “make an impression”.

A brand, a jingle, a slogan or a campaign that fails to make an impressions fails, because it’s as if it never existed.

Say the authors:

No impression means no memory.
For brands, the success of a campaign is defined by how strong an impression it leaves on the brain. As mentioned, if it does not leave an impression, it doesn’t really matter; it can’t affect your future behavior in any way.

Instead, a brand, jingle, or slogan that makes an impression succeeds because it implants an association that can be fired with mere brand exposure.

So, in a way, brands are in the business of creating impressions. From a neuroscientist perspective, in the business of encoding.

Since not all events are encoded, how do you go from event, to impression?

How To Form An Impression

Some characteristics of an event increase the odds the event will stay in our memory -or “encode” in our brain-.

The characteristics are:

  1. Attention: if we don’t pay attention, the event won’t stick. Active participation increases attention, which is why product placements are much more successful in video games than in movies
    1. Zig-zag technique: one way to get attention while also latching onto an already existing association is to follow an existing association, and then break it. For example, the Nissan 350Z is a sports car that latched onto the “red-sportscar association” but went for a dark orange (note: in power dynamics we call this technique “pacing and leading”)
  2. Friction: friction relates to how difficult it is to decode a stimulus. Such as, the more we strain our attention during an experience, the stronger the memory that’s encoded
  3. Emotional arousal: whether good or bad, if something is important enough to arouse our emotions, our brain assumes it is important and therefore should be remembered
  4. Music: musical memory is one of the longest-lasting, most durable forms of memory

Help Irrational Buyers Feel Rational

How can you sell an emotional product that is expensive?

It’s an important question because, generally speaking, the bigger and more important the purchase, the more people engage their logical mind.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that people will be more rational.
Instead, it may mean that people want to make the choice based on emotion, but also want to feel rational and logical as they ponder their decision.

They do it via what in the marketing world is referred to as “functional alibi” (in some other sources referred to as “rationalization“).

So if you’re selling something that is truly emotional and that logically makes little sense to buy, you want to add just a few features or mentions that helps the buyer provide himself a “logical alibi” for the purchase”.

For example, if you’re selling a car such as the Hummer, you may want to add some mentions to safety to make people feel that the purchase was for higher safety:

Take the Hummer, for example: a $60,000, barely-street-legal tank that gets 4 gallons to the mile. It’s brash, big, and expensive. But by including a small mention of its safety features in its advertisements, marketers provide something for the rationalizing mind to grasp. In reality, you want it because it’s cool, but you tell yourself, I’m just buying it to be safe.

How To Sell Targeting The Right State (K Factor)

The “K factor” relates to people’s “intertemporal choice“.

To put it in simple words, it relates to how impulsive someone is:

Everyone has a K factor. It is where you stand on a scale of impulsivity versus control.

High-K individuals tend to delay immediate gratification and tend to optimize for long-term interests.
Low-K individuals tend to give in to immediate impulses, often at the expense of longer-term interests and rewards.

In Kahneman’s words, low-K prospects are in “system 1 mode”, making an emotional-based decision, while high-K prospects are in “system 2 mode”, making longer and more rational decisions.

The K factor is not fixed in time. The same individual at different times may be more or less impulsive, and the same individual can purchase a certain product in low-K, and another one in high-K.

Low-K selling tactics

Generally speaking, low-K consumers are a marketer’s favorite target:

Marketers benefit from catching consumers in moments of weakness, of low K, because it’s easier to sell them products they might otherwise reject

The tactics include:

  • Flash sales
  • Free shipping and free returns
  • Taxing your brain so that you start acting more low-k
    • Casinos with hidden exits
    • Malls & Ikeas with long walks between escalators

Low-k tactics work best for cheap or easy products.

High-K selling tactics

People tend to shift towards high-K behavior for more expensive or more complicated products, or longer purchasing processes.

When people are in high-K, a good business model is to provide them with easier access to more comparative information so that the consumers can shop in their favorite mode -logical and comparative-, and gets to feel rational and smart (while still simplifying and speeding up his job).
Meta searches and comparison websites prosper by pandering to high-K consumers.

And brands who want to sell to consumers who are in high-K mode are better off highlighting and providing positive information about their products.

Pleasure – Pain = Purchase

Does it sound too simple put it like that?

That’s what I always thought, to be honest.

Yet, the authors of Blindsight seem to confirm and lend some credibility to that equation:

In one fascinating fMRI investigation, Stanford neuroscientist Brian Knutson and colleagues found that a purchase could be predicted largely by the difference in activation between the brain’s pleasure center (nucleus accumbens) and the pain center (insular cortex).

They measured as “pleasure” the presentation of the product and as “pain” the introduction of the price.
And albeit the equation wasn’t working 100% of the times, if activity in the pleasure area was stronger than the activity in the pain area, a purchase was extremely likely. On the other hand, if pain outweighed pleasure, a purchase was not likely.

The authors say that, put more broadly, if the anticipated pleasure of a thing is greater than the pain of obtaining it, we act.

Increasing pleasure

Smart brands seek to optimize for the ways we are driven to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. But that’s not easy, as there are many quirks to pain and pleasure, including:

  1. Pleasure is fleeting: and this is why brands seek to maximize the “hedonic treadmill” to make you chase the latest rush of shopping pleasure
    At the biological level of the brain, pleasure climbs and peaks at the moment just before our first experience of a thing. The first bite of a cheese-cake, the first drive in a new car, the first jog in a new pair of running shoes. The pleasure then rolls downhill with every additional bite, drive, or jog: the second gives less pleasure, the third even less, and so on“.
    The release of the iPhone is all designed to maximize the pleasure of owning the “new and shiny” product and avoiding the pain of being stuck with “old model”.
  2. We enjoy randomness: Pleasure is best served on a plate of randomness, and this preference for randomness also has been measured with fMRI
    Random pleasures can be deliberately baked into the consumer experience to great effect. Research has found that participants were three times more likely to buy a coffee mug when they were told that they were randomly selected to receive a special discount. Rapidly growing sandwich shop Pret a Manger empowers employees with a fund to comp random customers of their choosing, a plan their CEO affectionately calls “random acts of kindness.” Zappos, a company with one of the highest customer service ratings in any industry, is known to catch its customers off guard with pleasurable surprises. They once went door to door through the entire town of Hanover, New Hampshire, surprising each customer at the door with gifts like warm gloves and scarves.”
  3. We’re bad at predicting future pleasure: “we derive more pleasure from wanting something than from having it—because the brain engineers pleasure only in the chase—our desire for something in the present is always far greater than our actual enjoyment of it will be in the future. Humans don’t calibrate for this, and it makes us terrible predictors of what will actually make us happy. Behavioral economists call the ability to predict how you will feel in the future affective forecasting, and we’re horrible at it.
  4. More choice does not equal more pleasure: it’s not really the number of choices, per se, that affects your mood. Rather, it’s the actual act of choosing. Especially for products that we want, as opposed to those we need, choice is tiring. How companies resolve this oxymoron is by turning the pain of choosing into the pleasure of abundance. Companies that can simplify the act of choosing are handsomely rewarded.

The authors say that while all marketing 101 courses focus on the “four Ps of marketing”, the “new Ps of pain, pleasure, and purchase” are of deeper importance:

Our purchasing behavior is heavily driven by our relationship to pleasure and pain, and their relationship to each other—and as we’ve seen, those relationships are far from straightforward. Pleasure is elusive, best achieved via its own pursuit, driven by randomness, and difficult for us to predict. And while we make purchases based on what we think will bring us pleasure (despite often being wrong), even more, we make purchases based on the avoidance of pain. Whether by directly instilling fear, or framing a product in terms of loss, tactics that play on the human drive to avoid pain are oft-used tools in the marketer’s tool belt.

Numbing the pain of paying

People generally dislike parting with money.

So while one way to increase sale is to drop the price, brands generally prefer to reduce the pain of the payment process by tapping into human quirks in pain perception.
For example, the more abstract the payment experience is, the less it hurts. Enter credit card, chips at the casinos, digital payments with touch or face recognitions, etc.

Pain frame to drive sales

Generally speaking, pain hurts more than pleasure feels good.

So while anticipated pleasure is a strong motivator, the pain of losing something we already have can be an even more powerful source of motivation.

Pain frames are very popular in politics, also see;

And brands and marketers surely aren’t going to renounce such as a powerful weapon:

In the consumer world, brands operationalize the science of loss aversion via a tactic your authors call the pain frame: emphasizing the avoidance of loss, to persuade loss-averse individuals.

Imagine for example a gain frame VS a pain frame:

  1. Power University provides increased status, attraction, and income
  2. Power University prevents loss of status, attraction, and income

The authors say that, especially for those of us who are particularly loss averse, pain frames tend to be much more compelling.

The “fear of loss” is also evident with time-bound offers where it’s either you “act now”, or you lose the big sale.

Learn more about frames:

The New Addiction Industry: Monetizing Compulsive Behavior

Addiction is big business.

And there’s a new digital wave of addictive products that no longer need a substance like nicotine or alcohol to get you addicted.
These new companies don’t even want you to pay with money. The product is often free. Instead, the new addiction industry wants you to pay with your time and focus. Welcome to Addiction 2.0.

Pleasure and Dopamine

The current crop of addictive products went a “level higher”.

They do not catch people’s attention through simple behavioral reinforcement of positive stimuli:

If simple reinforcement drove behavior, we’d find that the most pleasure-inducing apps would be the most popular and well subscribed, but in fact, the opposite is true. An aggregate report of 2017 data shows that a higher amount of time spent on an app is consistently associated with unhappiness: the apps we use most often are the ones we enjoy the least, and the ones we wish we spent less time on.

Instead, the new crop of addictive digital products seeks to maximize the quirks of both our pleasure and pain systems.
And with self-learning algorithms, they’re particularly effective at it.

For example:

  • Leveraging anger, envy, outrage, and fear: negative emotions tend to get more clicks and attention than positive ones. I wish the author had also gone deeper on this all-important bias of digital products
  • Random news feed: With every new update, Facebook began to shape the News Feed into what it is today: a masterpiece of attention hacking. In 2009, the Facebook News Feed got an update that killed chronological order. Instead of Father Time, a new magical algorithm began deciding which posts you would see and when. The update was a major win for randomness, as it took away the last piece of control users had over posts: the order in which they were seen.
  • Zeigarnik effect with “clickbait” articles: both titles and articles in some of the most popular publications are optimized for the Zeigarnik effect, consisting of a cliffhanger or curiosity-generating question or statement that make people want to find out the answer.
    What she looks like now will amaze you! Sound familiar? Never mind how inappropriate such an article might be, placed under an article on the Syrian Civil War. Outbrain and Taboola are the silent giants of this kind of sponsored content ad, which blatantly abuse the Zeigarnik effect: “Three Amsterdam Locals Walk into a J. Crew Shoot . . .” “Here’s Why Guys Are Obsessed with This Underwear.”
    BuzzFeed’s articles are mini Zeigarnik cliffhangers that only clicking on the article can resolve.
  • VR & AR: Our screens are addictive enough in two dimensions. Now virtual reality and augmented reality are beginning to supercharge “engagement” in 3D and beyond. Addiction 3.0 will use VR and AR to enable deeper and more compelling experiences. It is no surprise Facebook spent $2 billion to purchase Oculus Rift, a virtual reality video-game system, or that venture capital investments of nearly as much, $1.9 billion, were made in VR and AR start-ups in 2016 alone.

The solution?
Re-empower yourself, value your time more, and treat digital addiction as an addiction:

Consumers have a choice: pay with money, or pay with attention. So far, we have defaulted to attention. Here’s hoping we go back to good ol’ dollars.

Why We Like What We Like

  • Mere exposure: the more we see something, the more we like it (Bornstein, 1989), with the caveat that we must at least find it mildly enjoyable
    Limit: there’s evidence that it’s possible to have too much repetition, and there are sharp diminishing of returns after roughly fifteen exposures
  • Fluency effect: we show a preference for things that come to mind easily over those that are difficult (similar and overlapping with mere exposure effect)
  • Availability bias: the tendency to believe information that is easier to bring to mind as being more important (aka the availability heuristic)

Brands seek to leverage the above biases in a multitude of ways, from always trying to stay top of mind, catchy jingles, and names that are easy to remember.

Friction VS Likability

We previously said that friction, or the difficulty you need to exert in decoding a message boosts memorability -for example, a difficult-to-read font-.
Now with “fluency” we say that a font that is familiar and easy to read increases likeability (and truthiness).

The two might seem contradictory, but they’re not.
Adding friction boosts memory, but it doesn’t boost like-ability. So what’s better depends on what you need to prioritize.

Mix Familiarity and Novelty

Beyond friction and fluency, a deeper contradiction exists, say the authors:

Such as, the brain likes the safety of familiarity, but also likes the “newness” of novelty.

How to reconcile these two apparent contradictions for a marketer?
The authors say that there are times when our brain wants what is familiar, and there are times when it wants what’s new. But what our brain really loves is a perfect combination of both familiarity and novelty.

Leveraging the “power of myth” the authors say that George Luka’s Star Wars is an example of that perfect mix: Star Wars film just enough novelty into an existing template of heroes and myth that the audience was already well familiar with.

The trick is to find the perfect balance of familiarity and novelty.

Empathize & Connect With your Prospects

Say the authors:

brands are in the business of garnering connection. Branding is about building an informational, emotional, cultural, and personal connection among a company, its message, and its products.

Simon Sinek says that the most successful companies start with a central core of values and beliefs, and then develop products and communications around them.
They attract loyal followers not just because they like the products, but because they recognize themselves in those values and want to be part of that culture, and signal to the world they’re part of it -as well as attract the wannabes who want to virtue-signal those values and beliefs-.

Mirror The Communication Style of Your Speaking Partner

The more you can mirror the communication style of your conversation partner, the better the communication and the more persuasive your message.

For marketers, it means to adjust the message to the people you are selling, to become more like your prospects.
Some companies successfully “hacked” into this effective communication style by having their own customers post pictures of themselves with their products, thus leveraging their own customers’ social networks of similar prospects.

Brands Are Like People: People Will Attribute Personality To Your Brand

People “give life” to brand and logo, and invest them with human-like attributes and personalities.

Brands often seek to increase the “personalization’ of their brand by creating fictional characters and hyping up real employees. Their goal is to give you a single figure as a focus for empathy and connection.

Endorsements also serve a similar goal, to “acquire” the personality of the endorser:

Whether they do so consciously or not, consumers will attribute a personality to your brand in their quest for a shorthand, emotional understanding of your brand’s values. The people who represent your brand are part of that perception. As consumers, we extend our preexisting perception of and empathy for an endorser to the brand itself.

Empathy does not scale: share stories with individuals, rather than groups

Our brains are programmed to feel more empathy for one person, the singular, than for multiple people, the plural.
The same is true in marketing: across a very wide array of stories and situations, stories revolving around a single person generated far higher rates of emotion and empathy than those with families. Empathy is maximized when delivered via an individual, character-driven narrative.

The “Essence” of Branding: The Ultimate Level of Marketing

As we said, we tend to invest brands of people-like qualities and traits.

But sometimes, we go one step further, and we can invest physical objects with a “soul” -essence- that transcends the physical products -and skyrocket their price-.

For example, people tend to invest the best art pieces with essence.
Paintings that have become iconic acquire a valuation that is millions of times higher than the material they’re made with -it’s because they’re emblems of an era and transmits emotions that transcend the material value-. Sometimes the artist may actually destroy the art on purpose, and it may be worth even more.
Or you may be a fan of a sports figure and their signature may be invaluable to you. It’s because of the emotions that you associate with that personality, not because the signature may be extremely valuable per se.

But the authors also list an example of a simple copywriting experiment to show the power of “essence”.
Frankly, I’m not sure this was the perfect example for that “essence”, but I was quite shocked, and even struggled to fully believe, the results:

Anthropologists Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn purchased a series of ordinary objects on eBay, like rubber duckies, a Pez dispenser, and a small garden gnome. The average price they paid for each was $1.25. They then enlisted the support of professional writers to create a biography for each item. Last, they re-auctioned the items on eBay, using the biographies as the item descriptions. How much did the same objects, now dripping with essence, go for? The average price was well over $100. In total, the project generated $8,000 (which was distributed to the writers)

SubMidliminal Marketing

Albeit subliminal has sometimes been overblown as some sort of “dark psychology” technique that can make you do anything, it does exist, and it can be scientifically measured and tested:

In subliminal priming, some thing (scientists call this a stimulus) is introduced, without your conscious awareness, through one of your senses. Then, later, this thing—this stimulus—affects your behavior in some way (scientists call this a response). In other words, subliminal priming is when exposure to sensory stimuli influences you, potentially affecting your future behavior, all without your awareness.

However, testing the effectiveness of subliminal techniques in the consumer world has yielded mixed results.
For example, flashing the word “LIPTON” gave people an increased preference for Lipton Iced Tea, but only if they were already thirsty. Otherwise, there was no effect.
It’s still powerful and, say the authors, “creepy” and since people cannot consent to it, many jurisdictions have banned the use of subliminal advertising.

Midliminal priming isn’t illegal, though…

Midliminal Priming

For a prime to be midliminal, you must be able to see it, yet it must typically go unrecognized.

And it still works:

Midliminal messaging works because of the brain’s tendency to fall for priming, whether that priming is intentional or not.
Priming works by impacting the mental models our brain creates. And whether or not a given prime ultimately impacts our behavior somewhere down the line, it still leaves an imprint in our brains.

For example, the Fedex logo:

The arrow in the FedEx logo primes you to associate the company with fast delivery

Or the Amazon logo:

The visual smile nudges a mirroring positive emotional reaction from you while emphasizing the message that Amazon carries everything from A to Z.

Midliminal “hides in plain sight”.

Product placement is also a form of midliminal priming.
The “advertising” is often in plain sight, but the effect happens on a subconscious level, and is more effective for it because you don’t discount the advertisement as “biased” as you do with most normal advertisements.

All senses can be used for midliminal priming, and the authors go on to list how for each one of them.

Blindsight book cover


  • Stop recording live events

The act of recording makes you “less in the moment” and degrades your ability to retain the event in your memory.

  • People unconsciously grow careless around what they own to give themselves an excuse to buy the new model

Researchers found that you’re much more likely to be careless with your phone if there’s a newer, better version of the product available or soon to come.
Tthere was a curious spike in losses right before a new model was released. This was further supported by a survey of over six hundred self-reports of iPhone neglect and damage, which, again, showed a huge uptick right after a new model was announced. Even if we feign disappointment that we drop our phone, or leave it in a cab, we may unconsciously just be giving ourselves an excuse to get the latest model!


Freud’s greatest contribution to modern psychology, and his lasting legacy, is this: We never really know why we do the things we do.


  • I was confused between “associations” and “mental models”

I think I generally get the difference, but more clarity would have helped.
I either missed the exact definitions, or I think that a more clear explanation, or a definition, could have helped.

  • Low-K techniques and flash deals aren’t always irrational

Flesh deals and buying on flash deals aren’t always irrational or low-K.
It can actually be very smart to buy on a flash sale. One great technique is to put something in your cart and then only buy once you see it’s on sale.

Or trying on an item that’s free shipping and free return also isn’t low-K irrational. It makes a lot of sense to be more willing to buy if you can send it back for free.

  • High-K comparison wasn’t successfully only because of more information, but because of creating trust

The insurance that provided comparison with other insurances wasn’t just successful because it gave more information.
But it’s because one, it probably offered competitive products compared to those competitors -or it wouldn’t have shown them at all-.
And two, because being so open about the competitors also increases trust.

  • Amazon example didn’t add up to me

Amazon’s example of appealing to both system one and system two with monthly and yearly subscription plans didn’t convince me.
I don’t necessarily believe that most low-K folks go for monthly and most high-K folks go for yearly.

  • Video games are fun beyond the simple beginning

The pleasure of most video games doesn’t disappear the moment that people start playing it.
In truth, many good video games get better after you start playing.


It’s just the best overview I’ve read on how neuroscience is affecting marketing and consumers.

And I also appreciate:

  • On-point science, addresses and well explains several pop-psychology myths that other books and authors either created, or fell for

From the “paradox of choice” to the “mirror neurons” the authors seem to be good and balanced scientists who crossed their Ts and dotted their Is.
And they also seem to have referenced several meta-analyses, rather than parroting debunked studies or jumping to conclusions based on low-power studies.

  • A great mix of science, research descriptions, general principles, and real-life applications

A good mix of solid science, general marketing principles and best practices, and real-life applications from successful companies.

Maybe a bit more “how-tos” sub-chapters would have been perfect to make it all even more actionable.

  • Systemic-level of analysis: they connect the dots, rather than hyping up dots

Many books simply list biases or “random facts of psychology”, trying to “wow” the readers with fun-facts and random “fun experiments”.
And I consider them semi-useless.

But Blindishgt’s authors stand out as they really seem to have that good attitude of wanting to understand and explain beyond the micro “bias level” and go at a higher, systemic level to develop an actual theory and approach that you can use to both understand the world, and affect change in that world.

So they look at how different things fit together, and how seemingly opposing biases can be explained.

For example, they didn’t just list “fluency” and “friction”, but explained how these two seemingly opposing biases can co-exist. And they went on to explain how they can and should complement each other, with plenty of examples.


Blindsight is a fantastic book at the intersection of neuroscience, psychology, marketing, and persuasion.

What I liked is that compared to many other similar books it seeks to provide a systemic-level explanation and approach to that connects the various dots.

Plus, I also learned several new things, and it helped me to clear up a few things.

At the time of writing, I’m considering whether to add it to some of the “best books” lists on this website, especially the “best books on influence and persuasion” and potentially even the “best red pill book” because of its high-quality analysis on the addictiveness of social media.
And if I’ll eventually make a “best marketing books” list, it will for sure feature very highly there.

And as a testament to how much I trusted the authors -as well as Ali Scarlett who first proposed and then molded it-, we also used their same template for our flagship course Power University.

Check out the:

Check the best books collection or get the book on Amazon.

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