Psychology is like marmite. Personally, I love it; my boyfriend once got sent out of a classroom for referring to it as a ‘pseudo-science’.
Throughout history, interest in the way our minds work has taken a back seat compared to our bodies, but it is more and more becoming recognised as equally deserving of our attention.
Businesses are definitely cottoning on to this – which is probably partly down to peer pressure – but there are still some industries attempting to resist. There is no use, though, because psychology is integral to every single industry out there.
I will leave out the obvious ones – we all know that marketing relies on an understanding of human behaviour to persuade consumers to interact with brands.
So, some less obvious ones:
Finance is one of those intensely numerical industries, which is why many people perceive it as having no use for psychology. But, many people are WRONG.
At its most simple, understanding how different groups perceive risk is extremely useful in knowing which stocks are likely to rise or fall at any time.
As fantastic as financial analysts are, spending behaviours are absurdly erratic at times, and it is just not possible to predict human behaviour with algorithms alone.
Behavioural economics is not a new concept, but it is one that is sometimes dismissed as a namby-pamby version of its hardcore older cousin. Even so, understanding people, their biases, motivations and general behaviour is crucial to understanding how they are likely to spend their money.
As much as I am sure all nightclub bouncers are itching to understand the minds of the drunkards they kick out, I am talking more about the industry keeping our personal data safe.
Cybersecurity has long been thought of as the realm of the techies, and quite rightly too. But whilst understanding the soft- and hardware of cyberspace is an obvious requirement for said techies, understanding the mind of the cyber-attacker is often overlooked.
I have said it before and I will say it again – social engineers need no technical skills what. so. ever. With just 5 minutes and a single phone, a social engineer can manipulate their way into your most private information.
Using psychology to understand the motivations and methods used by cybercriminals and their victims is just as useful at keeping our data secure, if only the industry would embrace it.
In the 1920s, when stress was first proven to cause physical symptoms, there was something of a Eureka moment in medical practice as doctors were finally able to diagnose their patients with unexplained headaches and stomach cramps.
But, even today, despite the mind-body link becoming more recognised, mental health treatments are not given anywhere near the same level of attention as physical treatments.
It is now becoming generally acknowledged that mental health treatments such as CBT can directly relieve physical symptoms. Some advocates are even pushing for a move towards ‘Health’ as one, important industry rather than mental health being considered separate, and sometimes lesser, to physical health.
An understanding of the differences between different groups of people, coupled with a respect for the mind-body link will only enhance medical practitioners’ ability to diagnose and deal with patients.
In hospitality, personalisation is key. I worked in a variety of hospitality jobs (some more glamorous than others) over many years, so I have witnessed first hand the differences in the requirements of different types of customers.
What, I think, helped me to connect with all sorts of customers was my innate interest in them all individually. I am not saying you have to have an hour-long DMC with each and every one of your customers, but it is definitely helpful to understand what typically motivates, persuades and annoys different consumer groups.
For hospitality managers, being able to assess employees’ personality types means better teams who work better together. That will lead to happy customers, so really it’s a win-win.
As much as I would love to write about every single possible industry, I think you get the picture. Psychology can be used to enhance any industry – I challenge you to give me one that doesn’t.