The 12 triggers for activating System 1.

To guide visitor flows, your communication must be accepted by the crowd. You achieve this through the following 3 basic principles:

1. Freedom of choice: Give visitors a choice. Principle of freedom.
2. Transactional analysis: Communicate in the same ‘ego’ as your visitors.
3. Activate System 1 of the brain.

There are 12 triggers that activate System 1:

1️⃣ Egocentric 😎
System 1 becomes active when our needs are satisfied.

👉🏼 Event example: Imagine you’re at an event and have a sudden craving for a beer. Upon spotting or hearing about the location to obtain the beer, you’ll instinctively (unconsciously) follow the directions.

2️⃣ Social Proof: What are others doing? 👀
We can observe this phenomenon on websites like For instance, when faced with a choice between two hotels, one with just 1 review and a 5-star rating, and the other with an impressive 105,000 reviews, both with 5-star ratings, most individuals would likely opt for the hotel with a higher number of reviews. This is because the prevailing notion is that if the majority of people approve, it is likely to be of high quality.

👉🏼 Event example: If you notice that 85% of the crowd is heading left, it’s probably an indicator that the correct direction to go is indeed left.

3️⃣ Authority: We unconsciously assign value to individuals who hold authority👨‍⚕️
An illustrative example would be a dentist endorsing a particular brand of toothpaste in a toothpaste advertisement. Given that the dentist is an authority figure in the field, the presumption is that he/she possesses reliable knowledge.

👉🏼 Event example: The guidance provided by an artist or influencer carries a greater impact compared to advice from an average person.

4️⃣ Tell stories📚:
People love stories. Stories stimulate our imagination. Short stories and fairy tales are great for activating System 1 thinking. They often contain emotions like heroism, struggle and love, which touch us and draw us into the story.

👉🏼 Event example: showing a short animation for explaining house rules.

5️⃣ Competition and games🏆:
Games and competitions excite us. Our emotions, like excitement and anticipation, are aroused. These emotions activate our quick thinking and we respond impulsively.

👉🏼 Event example: A beer quicker than your friends? Go left!

6️⃣ Contrast ☯️:
Contrast is everywhere around us. Think about how a sudden change catches our attention, like a sunny day after days of rain. In marketing, contrast is used to grab attention, like before-and-after photos in advertisements. Contrast helps us make quick choices by directing our attention to what’s different.

👉🏼 Event example: toilet € 0,– versus public urinating € 150,–

7️⃣ Visuals 👀
Visuals have a special power to get our attention. Our brain is wired to understand pictures quickly because they might show important information for staying safe. We immediately recognize this 😳 visual. But can you describe it? That’s the power of visuals!

👉🏼 Event example: Using pictos or drawings.

8️⃣ Touch 🤗
Touch, like holding something, is an important way to grab our attention. When we touch something, our brain quickly thinks about lots of things. So, when you hold something you start to feel a connection to it. This is why marketers offer things like “Try this product for free for 30 days!” – they know that if you hold something, you’ll want/keep it.

9️⃣ A Good Start and End 🎉
When we start something in a positive way – like a friendly hello or a nice feeling – our brain gets ready to like it. And when things end well – like a happy ending in a story – we like it even more. All of these things help our brain make quick choices. Our brain likes patterns and this helps us understand things without thinking too hard 🥱. In the end we’re just a lazy species.

1️⃣0️⃣ Colors and Scents 🌈👃🏼
Different colors can evoke different emotions and reactions without us being aware of it. For example, red often invokes feelings of excitement or warning, while blue symbolizes calm and serenity. These color reactions are deeply ingrained in our culture and experience, activating System 1 for quick responses to our surroundings.
The power of scents to evoke memories has long been known. When we smell a familiar scent, it can activate System 1 and immediately take us back to specific moments from the past. These associations are rapid and unconscious, stirring emotions and reactions without conscious thought.

👉🏼 Event example : use the right colors in your communication: Evacuation: RED flashing | Wayfinding: Blue / white

1️⃣1️⃣ Music 🎧
Music has the unique ability to directly affect our emotions. This is thanks to its capacity to create melodic and rhythmic patterns that resonate with our inner feelings. It can evoke joy, sadness, excitement, or tenderness without requiring conscious thought. We use heuristics, mental shortcuts, to quickly judge whether we like a song or not. These heuristics are based on past experiences, our culture, and personal preferences. They activate System 1 to swiftly decide whether we appreciate a song or not.

1️⃣2️⃣ Emotions 😧
Our brains are wired to quickly respond to the emotions of others. Seeing a smile, a frown, or tears in someone’s eyes immediately triggers System 1. We don’t need to consciously think to understand what’s happening. It’s an evolutionary response that has helped us rapidly react to social signals and express empathy.
Observing emotions is a powerful trigger for our fast, intuitive thinking system, System 1.

👉🏼 Event example: Use emoticons in your communication.

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