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  • SPEAKER: Good afternoon and welcome to Talks at Google.

  • We are very pleased to bring the author and entrepreneur

  • Ben Parr to campus today.

  • This Princeton native, that would be Princeton, Illinois--

  • being from Champaign, I definitely

  • respect that-- was also voted in 2012 one of the Fortune 30

  • under 30.

  • So that's pretty cool.

  • His career in the Valley and in tech

  • has really spanned a wide variety of areas

  • from working at "CNET" and "Mashable" to currently

  • with "Inc." magazine and the VC DominateFund.

  • Today, he's speaking to us about yonder book, "Captivology,

  • discusses the psychology of attention,

  • and includes a variety of interviews with thought leaders

  • on that subject.

  • It is truly the fundamental currency of today's economy.

  • And we'll have some time at the end for questions,

  • but for now, Ben Parr, you now have our attention.

  • Welcome to Google.

  • BEN PARR: Thank you.

  • But you've all seen "Up," right?

  • And you've seen Doug.

  • I feel like Doug the dog, screaming "squirrel"

  • everywhere all the time.

  • And we live in this kind of new era in the last decade

  • where we are bombarded with more information than ever.

  • And yet, we have the same 24 hours a day.

  • In 1986, we were presented with approximately 46 newspapers

  • worth of information, according to one research study.

  • And by 2006, that number had increased

  • to 176 newspapers worth.

  • Today it's actually seven full HD DVDs worth of information

  • that we are exposed to on a daily basis.

  • And so you combine that with our multitasking

  • habitats--that's my actual TweetDeck.

  • It looks like someone vomited on something.

  • And this is the kind of thing all of us

  • are dealing with daily.

  • And our multitasking habit, which is not actually

  • helping us all that much.

  • In fact, there's another study that

  • found that those who consider themselves heavy multimedia

  • multitaskers are actually the least effective

  • when it comes to completing tasks and switching

  • between tasks and accuracy.

  • And so you have this combination of way more information

  • than ever and us having bad habits

  • to manage that information.

  • And you have a world where it is both extremely difficult

  • to capture attention and to stand out with your idea,

  • whether it's a project, it's a start up, it's a passion,

  • it's a charity, and having it be seen by the world.

  • And at the same time, defending our attention

  • by all of this kind of information,

  • understanding which things are worth our time and attention.

  • And so that's kind of the reason, the impetus,

  • for why I wrote "Captivology."

  • And "Captivology" is about the science and the psychology

  • of attention, and why we pay attention to certain people

  • and products, and how to utilize that science to capture

  • the attention of others.

  • And so I'm going to talk a little bit about the research

  • I did for "Captivology"-- over 1,000 research

  • studies, interviews with dozens of PhDs,

  • and everybody from Steven Soderbergh, Adrian Grenier,

  • the people behind the Old Spice campaign,

  • Sheryl Sandberg, David Copperfield,

  • people across industries.

  • I'm going to talk about the three stages of attention

  • and my model of attention and, more importantly, what I call

  • the seven captivation triggers.

  • And these are seven psychological triggers

  • that capture attention across all these stages.

  • And so let me get into attention.

  • And so I kind of describe attention as a bonfire.

  • And your goal in capturing attention

  • is to walk people through the three stages,

  • is to grow the fire because you can't just

  • start out with a bonfire.

  • You have to start with the spark.

  • And then you go through the kindling.

  • And then you go and you finally get to the logs in the bonfire.

  • And so the first stage is immediate attention.

  • The second stage is short attention.

  • And the last stage is long attention.

  • And let me explain a little bit about each stage.

  • Stage one.

  • Immediate attention.

  • It is our immediate and automatic reaction

  • to certain sights, sounds, and stimuli.

  • It's how we react if someone does this, for example.

  • [POP]

  • I love doing that every single time.

  • It's how we automatically react to when there's sights, sounds,

  • something like that.

  • When someone puts a gunshot, or launches a confetti cannon,

  • we're going to pay attention.

  • And I'm sorry to the janitors in a little bit.

  • But the reason why we react is because it's

  • a defense mechanism.

  • We're trying to protect ourselves.

  • Imagine if you had to think every time a car was

  • coming at you.

  • We'd be dead human beings.

  • We'd be a dead species.

  • And so it's a protection mechanism.

  • And you'll see that a lot of attention

  • is a defense mechanism.

  • And a lot of it is activating those defense mechanisms.

  • The second stage is from subconscious

  • automatic attention to conscious, directed attention,

  • is when we start concentrating on something like a test,

  • or a speaker, or a dress.

  • That goddamn dress.

  • But it's when we actually start focusing.

  • And it is a kind of short-term thing.

  • And it's run by a system called working memory.

  • And working memory is this short-term memory system

  • that processes the sights and sounds

  • around us and the other stimuli and helps us determine which

  • things are worth our time and attention

  • and, more importantly, which things should

  • be stored in long-term memory.

  • Which leads us-- well, before I tell you-- very complicated

  • system, by the way.

  • I won't go through the entire process

  • here, but suffice it to say it's a very complicated system

  • that runs our attention.

  • The final stage of attention is a stage called long attention.

  • I kind of use Beyonce as an example.

  • It's the difference between hearing and listening

  • to a Beyonce song in the car and joining the Beyhive

  • and becoming a lifelong fan and buying albums.

  • It's the reason why when Beyonce launched her last album,

  • she didn't have to do any marketing.

  • She just got to drop it and suddenly everyone bought it.

  • But it's because she earned long attention over time,

  • building those relationships, building that relationship

  • with her audience, building long attention and interest

  • from millions of people.

  • And so those three kind of things

  • combine to create this bonfire of attention.

  • Now how do you build that bonfire of attention?

  • You have to go through what I call

  • the seven captivation triggers.

  • And these are seven psychological triggers

  • I discovered over and over again that came up

  • in my research that capture attention

  • from immediate attention to long attention.

  • So let me tell you about the first one-- automaticity.

  • All right.

  • So pop quiz.

  • If you're a hitchhiker on the side of the road

  • and you want to have the best chance of being picked up,

  • what color shirt should you wear?

  • Guesses?

  • Red, white, I heard.

  • What else?

  • Orange.

  • Yellow.

  • I've heard everything.

  • Actually, usually someone says "naked."

  • You guys aren't dirty enough.

  • It's too early in the day or something?

  • It's a Monday.

  • Fair enough.

  • Maybe during Burning Man.

  • So the answer is actually, it's gender specific.

  • If you're a man, on average, any bright color

  • will do because of the dark backgrounds

  • of the black roads, and the dark green grass,

  • and the brown dirt.

  • But if you're a woman, and there was actually

  • a French scientist who was like, I'm going to study this.