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The psychology of codes

The autopilot

There is an autopilot in our brain. This scientific finding explains how our brain reacts for example to products. Let’s say we go to a supermarket and do our weekend shopping. As we browse the shelves and look at the products, the autopilot breaks down the products and their characteristics into individual codes. These can be, for example, the shape, the colour and the material. The autopilot compares these signals with mental prototypes.This enables the person to classify the product.

The prototypes

Prototypes are created through experience and implicit (i.e. unconscious) learning. In the course of our lives, we learn when which product is used and by whom.We learn this, for example, from the internet, television or the newspaper and from friends or family.

The statistics of the environment

If certain codes often appear in context, these codes are linked together in our brain. Our brain follows the motto: Neurons that fire together, wire together. An example: We see a new laptop with a metallic design, we see shiny metallic and streamlined sports cars and we see futuristic robots gliding across the screen in a movie. So the signal metal always comes into contact with modernity and performance. That is why metal becomes a symbol for it: Metal = modernity and performance.

People see certain codes in connection with other codes. If this happens statistically often, these codes are linked with each other. This phenomenon is called statistics of the environment.

Codes for GLAME

We can use this knowledge about codes and thereby even do something for more sustainability. How can this be done? Well, that’s easy. For example, if you bring a glass bottle with a metal cap to your weekly sports session, others will be inspired. Through repetition, sharing and positive feedback, they will also associate sustainability with glass and metal. And the next time they go shopping, they will definitely think about it when they are faced with the choice of which bottle to buy.

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