Evolutionary Psychology Meets Marketing: An Interview With Isaac Baker
Evolutionary psychology is the study of the innate programs of the human mind. Due to its meta nature, evolutionary psychology represents a very broad field, with implications in business, public policy and more. This interview is part of a series interviewing prominent people in the field. In today's interview, we are talking with Isaac Baker.
Isaac Baker is an Applied Behavioural Scientist on a mission to positively impact people’s lives by applying the science of behaviour, decision-making, and performance. He is in the final stage of completing his PhD in Psychology, and has recently joined QBE Insurance as a Behavioural Insights Consultant. Isaac is also the host of ‘People Science with Isaac Baker’, a show and podcast targeting the development of people’s behaviours, skills, and decisions to enhance their lives. You can find the show on his YouTube channel: Isaac Baker.
When and how did you encounter evolutionary psychology?
I first encountered evolutionary psychology some time near the end of completing my Bachelors in Science where I was majoring in Zoology. I came across a documentary on evolution. As a was a child I had devoured all things to do with animals and evolution. This documentary introduced me to the implications of evolution to human psychology. It spurred me to change to a dual degree with a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), and go on to my PhD in Psychology.
Where do you see the potential applications of evolutionary psychology to marketing? Can you give one insight as an example?
In every nook and cranny of marketing. Evolutionary theory offers the ideal meta-framework to understand human behavior and generate novel predictions of human behaviour. It can inform how we design our marketing to optimally pull the levers of the human brain to encourage desired outcomes, such as persuasion, favourable attitudes, or targeted behaviour change.
Value can be derived from insights into the role of sexual selection in shaping human psychology. Among other things, it frames key human motivations and decision-making systems as being influenced by the dynamics of 1) competing against rivals for mates, and 2) attracting mates. Appreciating these factors that have shaped our psychology, we can draw upon this nature of human psychology to shape the hearts and minds in the marketing context.
What is one marketing insight that wouldn't have been discovered void of evolutionary psychology?
It is the ‘why’ rationale driving our gamut of consumer behaviour and decisions. This applies across phenomena, such as social belonging, social norms, status, and reciprocity. Understanding the ‘why’ informs building the ‘how’ of marketing strategies and campaigns.
Pick one of these three groups – businesses, consumers, policy makers – and give your best piece of advice.
Businesses: If you want to have a maximum impact on influencing the ‘hearts and minds’ of employees or customers, attend to what the science has to say rather than solely relying upon your experiences, assumptions, and beliefs. Bonus advice: Blending the two and experimenting to see what works and doesn’t is key.
Which evolutionary psychologists would you love to read an interview by?
Professor William (Bill) von Hippel from the University of Queensland.
What is a message that you want to spread across and where people can find you online?
Check out my YouTube channel: Isaac Baker.
- I posted my People Science with Isaac Baker show and other content to apply science to improve your behaviours, decisions, and performance.
Connect on LinkedIn: Isaac Baker, PhD Scholar
Follow on Twitter: Isaac Baker, @Social_Intell15