Notes Psychology

Rule 4: People Don’t Pay Attention to Boring Things (Brain Rules)

Interest Creates Attention

We know that attention creates interest, but can interest create attention? Marketers think so. They use novel stimuli to harness attention in the service of interest.

A print ad for Sauza Conmemorativo tequila is an example. There is an old, dirty, bearded man wearing a brimmed hat and smiling, revealing a single tooth.

Above the picture, it says:

“This man only has one cavity.” A sentence below says (in larger font): “Life  is  harsh.  Your tequila shouldn’t be.” Most tequila marketing strategies focus on scantily dresses youths dancing at a party, but this ad uses attention to create interest.


Gist is very important for remembering details.

J.C. is a water who takes orders without writing anything down, but he never gets it wrong. The menu offers over 500 possible combinations, so this is an amazing feat.  

Colorado brain scientist K. Anders Ericsson often frequents this restaurant and noticed how unusual J.C.’s skills were. The secret was how J.C. organized information – he divided each order into discrete categories (entrée, temperature, side dish), and he coded the details of the order using a lettering system. By creating a gist hierarchy, he could recall any detail he wanted.

Memory is enhanced when associations between concepts are created. If we can derive the meaning of words to each other, we can more easily remember the details. Meaning before details.

John Bransford, who edited How People Learn discovered that experts differ from novices not simply through knowing a list of facts and formulas, but through organizing their knowledge around ‘big ideas’ or core concepts.

Can’t Multitask

Research shows we can’t multi-task. A person who is interrupted takes 50 percent longer to accomplish a task and makes up to 50 percent more errors. People who talk on cell phones while driving are half a second slower to hit the brakes in emergencies – it is like driving drunk.

The Brain needs a Break

The brain needs time to learn – information overload is not productive.

The brain is a sequential processor, it cannot pay attention to two things simultaneously. Create an interruption free zone and see that you get more done.

Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and SchoolRule 4: People Don't Pay Attention to Boring Things (Brain Rules) 1

"A gilded No is more satisfactory than a dry yes" - Gracian

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