New Media Creating New Brains?

According to an article in Time magazine that cites recent research at Stanford, McGill, and USC, people who use their smart phones, tablets, and other devices to constantly surf the ‘net and engage in social media may be re-making their brain’s hard wiring…and not in a good way.


According to article author Markham Heid, one’s anterior cingulate cortex, where reflective thought takes place, becomes atrophied and loses functionality. The brain becomes overloaded with constant over-stimulation of “always on” connectedness and starts losing the ability to take a break and let “aha!” moments rise through the soup of data and impressions absorbed both consciously and unconsciously.

Earlier research about the harmful effects of multi-tasking is reinforced by this newer work.

Coppola’s Wine Business & Media

Coppola wines has introduced a series of wines whose labels and names come from several of Coppola’s signature films. Here’s the picture that was included in a promotoinal email I received today from BevMo.


Three of Coppola’s biggest hits, Jaws, King Kong, and Wizard of Oz, are now a Chardonnay, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Merlot, with prices that range from $18 to $20. These days, that’s not much more than the price of a movie ticket.

Clearly, the psychology of having ahit in one milieu is now spilling over into a completely different milieu. Given the recent penchant to give wines names like “Arrogant Bastard” and “Bitch,” I guess it’s nos surprise to see another naming convention enter the fray. Thankfully, at least this one is less profane.

Mashable’s Ad Program

Is anyone else out there as angry with Mashable as I now am, thanks to their ultra-intrusive online video ads? As soon as I click on an email link, I start hearing a commercial that’s playing on the Mashable site. Often, I cannot even easily find the commercial that’s playing so I can pause or stop it.

As a media psychologist I have trouble understanding what Mashable thinks it is gaining by alienating its viewership for the sake of paid ads no one wants to view or hear. Their paying customers, sooner or later, are going to abandon Mashable once they find out that their intended audience is being turned off by this particular application of advertising technology. As P&G’s A.G. Lafley has said, “The customer is in charge.”

So, Mashable, why are you trying to stop customer control?  Mashable needs to think more about what engagement means and how it works. Consultation services are available….

About that election…

I subscribe to all kinds of news feeds, from Breitbart and National Review on the right, to NY Times and Washington Post on the left, as well as advertising and psychology feeds. Here is my recommendation to help understand what happened Tuesday, from Advertising Age:

The Cuteness Factor

Today’s Washington Post has a nice article about the kinds of appearance factors that make something appear “cute” to us. Here’s the link:

From a media psychology point of view, we are all apparently hard-wired to interpret certain visual cues in ways that excite our dopamine receptors and caring instincts. I would say the article does a good job of illustrating this.

What Makes Them, Them

Have you seen the latest commercial for Lexus? It’s called “What Makes Us, Us” and shows us the smarmiest, most arrogant and narcissistic (he can’t help it…he’s just written that way) Lexus driver ever, telling us, “By the time other people start doing what we’ve been doing, we’ve moved on.”

Here it is:

If what a number of sociologists have been saying about the Millennials is true, that they are the most narcissistic generation in memory, and if it’s also true that effective advertising arouses positive feelings of affiliation in viewers, then Lexus should be seeing land office business from the M-folks soon.

Or maybe they just need a different creative approach.

Musings for late June…

It’s that awkward time of year when the traditional TV season is over and new shows are just now launching. Just thinking about what’s on TV these days and what used to be on TV….

I remember watching “Ozzie and Harriett,” a sit-com with a musical twist as Ricky the kid Nelson grew into Rick Nelson, teen idol. Now I have “Empire” to consider, a raw drama of a family and its recording empire coming apart at the seams, then (perhaps) sewing itself back together???????

I remember “Father Knows Best” (dating myself, I know) and “The Honeymooners” (my dad’s favorite show, along with “Archie Bunker”); “The Brady Bunch” and “I Love Lucy”;  “Bonanza” and “Sea Hunt.”

Now there’s “Two Broke Girls,” “Shameless,” “The Good Wife,” and “Vinyl.”

On the other hand, where once there was “High Chaparral,” now there’s “Hell on Wheels.” And “Dragnet” has become “The Sopranos” or, perhaps, “NCIS.”

And we never had anything to compare with either “Downton Abbey” or “Game of Thrones.” Nor “Justified,” whose like we are not likely to see again any time soon, now that author Elmore Leonard has passed.

But where is today’s “Murphy Brown”?

The Golden Age of Television, some say. I wonder.

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