Can you handle the truth?

“He said. She said.”

“There’s his side of the story. There’s her side of the story, and then there’s the truth.”

The truth should be easy, right?

To understand the truth, we need to look at the human mind. In an earlier post, we sighted psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s research findings that showed how moral judgments arise from gut feelings (emotions) as opposed to reason (truth). Our brains have immediate emotional responses to things first and then we think of ways to rationalize the responses second (emotion first, justification second). No wonder the truth is hard to come by. We’re twisting every response we make to satisfy our emotional desires at every given moment.

If you are a marketer, this is an important insight. At NK&A we’ve done a great deal of research over the years, both qualitative and quantitative. In both, individuals are formulating answers to questions posed. But in reality we can never be 100% certain if it is an emotional response (wanting to please us or look good) verses a rational response. If you want to find out the truth you have to look deeper.

We posted another musing this year that speaks to habits. People are all about habits. Our lives are defined more by what we do than what we say. And what we do is primarily “habitual.” Be honest with yourself. You get up at certain times. You eat certain types of foods, regardless of whether others know you eat them or not. You watch certain programs (I like Modern Family, but I tell people I love Nova). We have good habits, bad habits, and habits we can’t even explain (watch baseball players’ step in and out of the batter’s box sometime). We’re quirky, but our quirky selves are our truthful selves. So next time you seek insights into why you sister’s boyfriend acts the way he does or into what motivates your target audience, don’t ask them…observe them. Therein lies the truth.

I probably should have just listened to my mom who knew the answer all along. She always said, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Moms are honest, even about their dishonesty. Got to love moms!