Helen Fisher, on the neuroscience of falling in love and advertising

Helen Fisher, anthropologist, human behavior researcher, and self-help author, gave a really compelling speech during Brandminds, a conference I’ve attended recently. Her talk was based on the results of her studies made on the brains of people falling in love, and how those results helped match.com in better suggesting suitable profiles for people looking for a partner. It was interesting to see as well how these personality profiles can further help in advertising, marketing and sales.

The results of Helen’s studies basically concluded that there are four main personality traits that influence the behavior of an individual both when falling in love as well as when buying. These four personality traits are based on the hormone type that is dominant in each individual: dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen. Let’s dig deeper into what each of these personality types mean.

Dopamine personality type: explorer (E)

Dopamine is the hormone responsible for seeking results and taking action towards them, helping control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. A very high level of dopamine is associated with sensation-seekers and risk takers.

Individuals with a dopamine personality style are novelty seekers, have a strong desire to explore, both mentally as well as physically. They are the creators, the explorers, impulsive and spontaneously generous, open-minded, generating lots of ideas, being enthusiastic and optimistic as well as mentally flexible.

According to Helen’s study, 38% of the population has a dopamine predominant personality type. Amongst them, some famous people like Richard Branson, Lang Lang, Peter Thiel and Gloria Steinem.

To appeal to them, your messages should speak novelty, creativity, adventure, excitement and change. The emphasis should be on autonomy, individuality and the now. This is the group of people that appreciate the modern, moving, fast changing and diverse locations and people, while they turn off when there are too many details and the mandatory calls of “should and ought”.

In terms of matching personality, dopamine types will be attracted by the same kind of people.

Serotonin personality type: builder (B)

Serotonin the the hormone responsible for our mood stability, same as the people with a serotonin personality type are considered to be the pillars of society. They are conventional, enjoy familiarity, they’re cautious and calm, structured and fact-oriented. Serotonin type owns a so called “logistical intelligence”, meaning they’re really creative when it comes to numbers and figures. They respect authority, have mostly close friends and are deeply loyal.

19% of the population has a serotonin personality type, like Hu Jintao, Mike Pence and Queen Elizabeth II.

To appeal to them, your message needs to show order and facts and even symbols of tradition. It’s great to use conservative colors, graphs, details and repetitive patterns. Speak about safety, values, memories, duties, the familiar, community and preparation for tomorrow. Be calm and self controlled and totally avoid drama, speculation and exaggeration.

Serotonin personality types will be attracted to the same kind of personality.

Testosterone personality type: director (D)

Testosterone is predominantly a male hormone responsible to drive a male’s sexuality. Regardless of sex though, the testosterone personalty according to Helen Fisher’s classification, is a type that needs to lead and shoot for the stars.

This personality understands rule-based systems (like math, engineering, music), they have strong analytical and spacial skills and a strategic intelligence. They’re inventive, like to experiment, thrive on achievements and dominant matching. Testosterone personality likes competition and ranks, and despite being flooded with emotions they tend to be very emotionally contained.

13% of the population is testosterone-driven, and well known examples are Steve Jobs, Margaret Tatcher and Hillary Clinton.

To appeal to the testosterone personality type, you need to talk about rank, power, ambition, success, speed, efficiency, innovation and technical features. You need to be direct and unemotional. Use geometric shapes, arrows, logical flow, be concise and speak about tomorrow. Offer prestigious prices, gadgets and technical information and services. Make sure to totally avoid ambiguity, lack of logic, self depreciation or redundancy.

Being a dominant type of personality, testosterones are attracted to their opposite personality type, estrogen.

Estrogen personality type: negotiator (N)

Estrogen is a group of hormones responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics, with a more important role in women. They’re big picture thinkers, contextual and long-term. They have the mental flexibility to tolerate ambiguity, they’re excellent at social skills, from posture to language and voice and are very intuitive. Emphatic and trusting, they seek meaning and harmony.

Estrogen personality is common in philosophers and thinkers, as they own a diplomatic intelligence and are very emotionally expressive.

30% of the population is estrogen type in personality, with some famous examples being Oprah Winfrey, Barak Obama, Bill Clinton (yes, yes!) and Charles Darwin.

To appeal to this personality, your message should be authentic and friendly, showing the big picture and long-term vision. It should be about people, harmony, diversity, charity and trust. Use round shapes, animals, nature, health, exercise and focus on tomorrow. Avoid confrontation, aloofness, short-term thinking and the lack of emotions.

They are attracted to the testosterone personality type.

Selling to the four personality types can be resumed like this:

To end, here you can find more about this study, videos with explanations of the brain and also the book detailing Helen Fisher’s study and results “The Anatomy of Love”. It’s also on my next to read list. Enjoy!