Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
Global pioneer in consumer neuroscience visits Stellenbosch
Author: Ronél Beukes
Published: 13/09/2018

Thanks to applied consumer neuroscience, marketers know more about their target audiences' preferences and views – and the effect those have on their purchasing decisions – than ever before.

“We have two operating systems: reason and emotion. Reason is to plan and to discipline; emotions give energy and hope. Both systems should work together," says international neuroscientist Prof Rafał Ohme, who delivered the keynote address earlier this week at the annual conference of the Southern African Institute of Management Scientists (SAIMS) in Stellenbosch.

One of the pioneers in his field, psychology professor Ohme from the Maria Curie Sklodowska University in Poland, has conducted neuro research on communication and management for the past two decades. Renowned for his work on emotions, unconscious processes and applied consumer neuroscience, he is also an honorary professor at Stellenbosch University.

He explained that neuroscience helps us discover to which extent emotions are relevant to our daily lives. “People not only have (explicit) rational opinions; they also have implicit behaviour such as emotional certainty and attitudes." A person's gut feeling, instincts and intuition represent pure emotions which are not modified by rational thinking.

“A high percentage of certainty translates into behaviour. If the certainty of a person's opinion is known, it is possible to predict behaviour better. It follows that this is important for marketers, politicians, etc."

According to Ohme, certainty of opinion can be measured by measuring a respondent's reaction time (speed and rhythm). The quicker respondents answer, the more certain they are. When their reaction time is slower, it is less likely that they'll do what they say.

“When one realizes that passion, not logic, makes people tick; that without emotional engagement there is no endurance; and that values attract talents, emotions can be used in management," said Ohme.

  • This year marks the 30th conference of SAIMS, which promotes the interests of management scientists in Southern Africa and serves as a forum to discuss management education and research. The conference is hosted by the Department of Business Management at Stellenbosch University.
  • ​​Photo (f.l.t.r.): Keynote speaker at the SAIMS Conference Prof Rafal Ohme with Dr Debbie Human-Van Eck, Conference Chair; Prof Elmarie Slabbert, Chair of the SAIMS Board; and Prof Christo Boshoff, Chair of the Department of Business Management at Stellenbosch University. (Photo by Anton Jordaan)