We're all on the journey.
May 17, 2023
The Things We Love: How Our Passions Connect Us and Make Us Who We Are

Aaron Ahuvia and Jeffrey Besecker discussed the psychology of love and how it applies to why people love things, with Aaron being the first to publish empirical work on the topic. They discussed how pleasure and identity are two factors that guide people to the things they love, and how love is connected to bonding in other mammals.

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Marketing Professor, Dr. Aaron Ahuvia and host, Jeffrey Besecker discussed the psychology of love and how it applies to why people love 'things', with Aaron being the first to publish empirical work on the topic.   

They discussed how pleasure and identity are two factors that guide people to the things they love, and how love is connected to bonding in other mammals. 

  • Aaron Ahuvia suggests that loving something is finding it to be so excellent that you want to make it part of who you are. 

He explains that when people have a strong, positive attachment to their parents, they build a model in their head that the world is a safe place and it is easier to form relationships. He also talks about how people who have difficulty in their relationships with people may substitute pets for people. 

Jeffrey Besecker and Aaron Ahuvia discussed how people's attachment to objects often connects them to people, and how people with a lack of social relationships may substitute objects for people. 

When it comes to our stuff - Is It Really Love?

They also discussed how people's brains sort people and objects differently, and how hoarding can be caused by a malfunction in the brain's sorting mechanism. 

Aaron Ahuvia discussed how people's brains process objects and people differently, and how companies use anthropomorphism, connections to people, and identity to create emotional connections with their products. 

 Aaron Ahuvia and Jeffrey Besecker discussed how people form relationships with objects and how those objects can be used to build stronger communities and relationships with people. 

  • He also discussed how in-group and out-group biases can influence people's opinions of products and how certain colors can evoke negative associations.
  • We explore how materialism can be used to compete for status with other people, which can drive a wedge between people. 
  • Discussing how to step back and form more openness, vulnerability, and conscientiousness in our connections with the world.


Key Topics:

  • Exploring the relationship between love, objects, and people
  • Unconscious brain processing of People vs. Objects
  • What we learn about trust from our insurance companies
  • How The Marketing Motto of ‘Know, Like, Trust’ Often Falls Short


Key Questions:

    • What Factors Guide Us Toward the Things We Love?14:04
    • What is the simplified definition of love?27:11
    • How does the brain decide if something is a person or an object?49:52
    • How do we psychologically ‘other’ people and slide them into one category or the next, turning them into that stuff or sometimes even turning them into that old shoe that we discard and pitch?54:51
    • What distinguishes between what we like and what we don't like?1:11:10



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Featured Guests:


Music Score by Epidemic Sound

Executive Producer: Jeffrey Besecker

Mixing, Engineering, Production, and Mastering: Aloft Media Studio

Senior Program Director: Anna Getz



The Things We Love – How Our Passions Connect Us and Make Us Who We Are

Possessions and identity: reflections on the work of Russell Belk

Anthropomorphism and the things we love

The things we love and identity conflicts

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Aaron Ahuvia: Guest Conversation- 2023 Season of The Light Inside 
Thu. May 11, 2023

0:03 - Aaron Ahuvia  Hi.

0:04 - Jeffrey Besecker  Hello, Eron, How are you?

0:06 - Aaron Ahuvia  Very well. How are you?

0:07 - Jeffrey Besecker  Fantastic. Thanks for joining me today.

0:11 - Aaron Ahuvia  Sure, it's my pleasure. Let me get this view set up properly. We go. I'm trying to get a get it to show myself so I can see if I'm properly in the frame. Oh, there we go. I haven't had my video as That's that, that's not the best view. Let's try this one instead. That's much better,

0:49 - Jeffrey Besecker  I wouldn't be overly worried. Outside of social promotion, we don't typically run the full video. We do audio only so long as we get a short clip you.

0:56 - Aaron Ahuvia  okay?

1:01 - Jeffrey Besecker  We're great.

1:02 - Aaron Ahuvia  Okay, very good.

1:05 - Jeffrey Besecker  So 1st and foremost, I'm excited to look at a lot of different aspects of your recently released book, but things we love and how our passions connect us and make us who we are and That's an interesting view in and of itself. I'd like to 1st and foremost, when we dive in here, get a little oversight on what exactly was the motivation behind that book, your perspective on it, and then also Looking perhaps today the more unconscious side of that, and how that can often become a somewhat dark view.

1:47 - Jeffrey Besecker  Why we also associate with the things we love. If you're open to that today,

1:51 - Aaron Ahuvia  That's good. There's actually a whole sort of big unconscious element to this. So that'll be good to discuss in a good, a good frame there, so.

2:00 - Jeffrey Besecker  what is your time frame today? We generally leave about an hour, hour and a half open. Use various aspects What we typically do is build upon the theme What I'd like to do is look at. The theme today because I think it's an often overlooked area. We so often only focus on positive emotions So, from a coaching perspective, what we typically run into are clients who are avoiding the negative side of life, the negative emotions, and that becomes a very unhealthy and adverse attachment to things.

2:39 - Jeffrey Besecker  What I'd like to then also do is kind of build our theme, to find both the value and the things we love, but also that disconnect and overlooked blind spot of how unhealthy attachments are often a means to fill the void not only in our emotional interactions, but also as a means to avoid. Our connection and interaction to others. The flip side of at times our things connect us, but You mentioned our connection with our telephones being a good thing where we're not fully present with others, so I'd like to find a way to balance the two of that.

3:19 - Aaron Ahuvia  Yeah, that's fine. I, I'm, I'm all, I've done a lot of work on materialism and sort of the, the problems with materialism. I do think that the word attachment and we can get into this when we talk about,

3:34 - Jeffrey Besecker  Sure.

3:36 - Aaron Ahuvia  but There are definitely situations where our attachments to things cause us problems. A lot of the time the, the behaviors that people think of when they think of materialism aren't actually around attachments. They're around a lot of other kinds of consumer behavior and they involve things and brands and money, but they're not Actually a sort of an emotional connection to some particular object. We can talk about what, what else is going on.

4:11 - Jeffrey Besecker  That's awesome. I'm glad we unpack that a little bit here. And a natural way to have that come to light, I love them, we can find that stuff. That's why I always roll in with my record on, because often we miss some of those juicy bets if it's not recording from the get go, so we can roll that right into the conversation.

4:27 - Aaron Ahuvia  Yeah, very good.

4:31 - Jeffrey Besecker  From my perspective, that's where a lot of this goes, the attachment per se. Is kind of a sticky point. There's a lot of elements in different ways we can look at that. Ultimately those associations, for me, you know, and Being a psychologist from your background ultimately are driven by emotion. So correct me or guide me, guide as well say correct me as kind of carries its Kdot.

5:00 - Aaron Ahuvia  They're very connected to emotions. Sure.

5:04 - Jeffrey Besecker  Awesome diving in, if you're read a role.

5:09 - Aaron Ahuvia  I'm ready to roll.

5:11 - Jeffrey Besecker  You know, if, if, if I've made myself relatively clear on where I'm going with things today, we don't do a typical introduce yourself, tell us your background, all of the things, kind of introduction. We'll do that in the, the show, lead in. Ultimately we're an educational platform, so I try to get right to the educational point or the overview point.

5:35 - Aaron Ahuvia  hum.

5:35 - Jeffrey Besecker  On what I found from a podcasting perspective, a lot of times we'll spend a 3rd of the show in some method of social validation rather than getting to the educational part. We're going to let your background and history speak for itself. I'll do, you know, here in a moment, a quick roll in, I'll do a quick overview where I pitch, you know, the book, and then we'll dive into share with some insights on the book and what led you to study why we love our things. And then I'll kind of let you roll from there.

6:10 - Jeffrey Besecker  I'm gonna let you take the lead on that. And then As we kind of bridge that,

6:13 - Aaron Ahuvia  Sure.

6:15 - Jeffrey Besecker  let's focus about half of our attention on that. Then try to find that shifting point. If we have to stop and find the shifting point, we don't have to go through this. And you know, like a uniform, let's roll it all out because we're going to post production, kind of edit it and put it together and assemble it so with you today. I would like to hope to kind of target and walk through, you know, we'll find our natural way, I feel, you know, Is this a point? Do we go a little deeper in this? Does this move us toward our goal of compare and contrast?

6:45 - Jeffrey Besecker  Ultimately, if What is our healthy awareness and alignment with our things? How does that create interconnectedness as human beings? And then we might that stray and then sometimes go toward those unhealthy, adverse relationships and Does that disconnect lie?

7:06 - Aaron Ahuvia  Sure, very good.

7:10 - Jeffrey Besecker  I'll do a three two one and we're rolling so aaron first and foremost I'd like to thank you today for talking to our community and our listeners about the things we love and why we form a relationship to the things we love to the things in our life that bring us value and meaning you recently released a book called the things we love how our patients connect us and make us first and foremost who we are Diving right into the book and the background a little bit, what 1st and foremost led you to study the things we love and how that makes us who we are as human beings?

7:56 - Aaron Ahuvia  bottom line. I was a Phd student in marketing. I never thought I would end up Phd student in marketing, much less a marketing professor. My undergraduate degrees in philosophy there are no jobs for philosophers and there are a lot more jobs for people in marketing.

8:09 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yes.

8:17 - Aaron Ahuvia  And I always was very interested in consumer culture. I had a lot of critiques of American consumer culture as perhaps excessively materialistic and was interested in studying that and discovered that as a marketing professor, I didn't have to necessarily be sort of raw, raw about consumerism all the time, but I could. It's a position that you can really take a look at this and and do research in that area. So I've always been interested in why people you know spend their money or save their money or want more money or, you know, all those related kinds of things.

8:56 - Aaron Ahuvia  And what leads to happiness is a big concern of mine. I have a very large stream of research on the sort of science of how we use our money and earn our money and spend our money, how that relates to our happiness in different ways, more specifically, about the things that we love had this opportunity early in my career as a Phd student to work with a professor, Maa Adelman, who had this really interesting data on a matchmaking service. This was back 30 years ago.

9:32 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yes.

9:32 - Aaron Ahuvia  The Internet was just a gleam in some technologist's eye. It was about to begin, and what was All in the news was that all of a sudden, a lot of people were starting to use singles ads and dating services and matchmakers, and that had never been part of American culture in a big way before. And we had some research on that and that was great. I like it was as a marketing Phd student I used to make money. Doing these seminars for people like how to write singles ad. It was a marketing Phd student, De Kellogg will teach you how to write a singles ad, you know.

10:14 - Jeffrey Besecker  What a great pitch.

10:15 - Aaron Ahuvia  I had a great, it was a great pitch, it was, it was very fun. I, you know, was working with some matchmakers. I really, always love the idea of helping people find in form relationships with the people. So working with a matchmaker as, as like a consultant to the matchmaking I happen to help be more successful was really fun. And in order to do that work. I needed to really become an expert in the psychology of love, why people fall in love with each other, what creates attraction between people, and how dating works.

10:47 - Aaron Ahuvia  So I spent years studying that and got quite expert in that. Then I needed to pick a topic for my dissertation, wanted something that would be a lot more mainstream, help me a lot more in the job market. I knew if I got pigeon holes as the Dating Services Guide. Was not gonna help me get a job at a, at a good school. But I had all that knowledge and wanted to put it to use, and it kind of occurred to me that, wow, well, you know, people don't just love other people, people love all kinds of things and people love activities.

11:20 - Aaron Ahuvia  What if I take this perspective? The psychology of love and applied it understand why we love stuff. I was very lucky. It turns out that I was the 1st person to, at any sort of larger scale research on that topic, so I was the 1st person to really published empirical work in that area. Since that time, a lot of people thought it's an interesting question and if one of the terms that comes out, I didn't invent this term, but I helped popularize it with in a later paper with Barbara Carroll.

11:58 - Aaron Ahuvia  The term is brand love, and so if you're in marketing and you want people to love your products,

12:01 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yep.

12:02 - Aaron Ahuvia  that's what they call. A brand love. You put brand love.

12:06 - Jeffrey Besecker  You were you were the brainchild behind that concept, huh? As somebody who has a thirty five year history in branding marketing and design that's a term that resonates well with me I go back to college you know all the way back to when I was seventeen eighteen in my history with branding so that's a very familiar term with me that's the very common term so.

12:32 - Aaron Ahuvia  It's that was one of my early, wasnt my 1st publication. It was one of my early publications. Really popularized the term. I did a Google search. There are like one or two occurrences of the term before that out there, but nobody was much using it. So in terms of of brand love now if you put the search into google scholar you'll find over fourteen thousand different scientific papers from people all over the world that are using this So it's very, it's become a large area and it's been really interesting to see that grow and part of what I do in the book.

13:11 - Aaron Ahuvia  I just get into the basic psychology. Behind it. So if you happen to be interested in marketing or maybe you work at a nonprofit and want people to love your nonprofit. I've talked to librarians about how to get people to love libraries. I'm talking to the nation of Vietnam about how to get people to love their country for in terms of tourism. So there's, there's lots of different ways you can look at it. However, there's a whole other side to it, which isn't okay. I'm a marketer and I want to get people to love my brand.

13:44 - Aaron Ahuvia  It's, I'm a person out there in the world and I love my You know this item I've got on my shelf, this vase that I've got on my shelf, I really love that thing, or I love my shoes or my car or my cell phone or whatever it is. And you just want to understand your own life better or the people around you a little bit better.

14:04 - Jeffrey Besecker  We all tend to have that drive to find more of the things we love in life the things that bring us joy and has I'd like to maybe dive toward the core of that are there maybe two three four factors that act of love That start to form that guide. You know what guide us toward the things we love.

14:34 - Aaron Ahuvia  It's an intuitive process. I know in this podcast you're interested in the unconscious mind. It's primarily an unconscious process, just like when you're dating, you can say like, Oh, this person looked really good on paper, but there wasn't any chemistry. It's the same kind of thing. It's this issue of chemistry. A lot of times what that chemistry involves are a couple of different things happening at the same time. Pleasure, so I can get into how this works, but there's some songs or books or movies or activities or even You know, clothing items that you just look at or and you be like, oh, that is fun for me, that just like lights you up, right?

15:25 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yep.

15:25 - Aaron Ahuvia  So that's a lot of the intuition behind it. And then there's another big part, which is your sense of identity. You want it to help you become the person you want to be. The things that we love. Their very nature become part of our identity. That's what it means to love something is to make that thing or person a part of your larger sense of identity. We do that with every person that we love or everything that we love. And so if things don't fit with that identity, then that also prevents you really from loving that or makes it difficult.

16:05 - Aaron Ahuvia  And you see that sometimes you'll have people will talk about guilty pleasures, and guilty pleasure is something that turns you on in terms of the pleasure you enjoy it, that it doesn't fit with your identity. So you know, you see yourself as a sophisticated person and this thing isn't something that a sophisticated person would like, so generally you don't necessarily love that. It doesn't sort of fit with, with what you're to do with your sense of self.

16:38 - Jeffrey Besecker  whole kind of sense of dichotomy between our identity can form such a unique and interesting interaction. How we relating coming out of that so.

16:58 - Aaron Ahuvia  So I'm gonna dive into a little bit of science here, but ident. Is really important to understanding love and, you know, for listeners You, of course, are interested if you're listening to this and you know why we love stuff, but psychologically it's 90 % connected to why we love people. And so this is something that's just basically true about love. Love did not evolve uniquely in people. We just used to talk of vocabulary. When biologists talk about love and animals, they talk about the word bonding.

17:37 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yep.

17:38 - Aaron Ahuvia  when you look at the neuroscience of what's going on, especially other mammals that have brains similar to our own, their bonding and our love are just two different words for 90 percentage. The same thing. I mean every species is different, humans are a little bit different, we experience things a little bit differently. But the core, this, it's a lot more same than it is different across these different species. And so then you want to look at Well, why is it that all these different animals evolved this love as a psychological mechanism?

18:12 - Aaron Ahuvia  And there's this amazing. One hundred percent correlation so they're biologists have logged over a million different species of animals and if you divide them into two broad groups you can say these are some animals that raise their offspring And then there's a lot of animals, the majority where they lay eggs and the eggs hatch and the offspring fend for themselves. From that point on, they don't really parent their offspring. Well, you find this bonding in every single species where the parents raise the offspring, there's bonding between the parents and the offspring.

18:49 - Aaron Ahuvia  And in species where the parents don't, there's never that bonding. So that's like really obvious what body is doing there. It's like, okay, this is a motivational system that gets parents to take care of their kids because the parents got this food and as an animal, the instinct is to eat that food and you have to have some system that comes in psychologically. It says don't eat that food, give that to your kid instead, which is not an obvious thing for an animal to do. To like find some food and then give it to some other animal out there.

19:21 - Aaron Ahuvia  So this is a, this is a very, you know, it's a wayy more complicated than that, but it just if you want to, if you want to like have some big picture idea, well then the question becomes how does that happen? If you've got an animal, these are not go sitting around philosophizing. This happens in birds, right? They, they feed their kids. So at a simple e evolutionary level happens millions of years ago in animals to get them to actually evolve this mechanism.

19:47 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yes.

19:58 - Aaron Ahuvia  And so what biologists believe is that there's pressure, sort of there's advantages to this you're to be more if you feed your kids,

20:04 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yep.

20:06 - Aaron Ahuvia  they're more likely to survive, they're more likely to pass on your genes. There is an evolutionary obvious evolutionary advantage there. But just because something is advantageous doesn't mean it's invented by evolution, because evolution works by random mutations. So What evolution always does is it looks as if something I'm anthropomorphizing evolution here, but forgive me for that for a minute. Imagine evolution is a person. It's not. Evolution looks for something that already exists, that it can change in some little way to get the effect it wants, rather than inventing some complicated thing out of whole cloth.

20:42 - Aaron Ahuvia  So evolution looks around. It says, Well, look this animal. It needs to feed and protect its kid. It already feeds itself, it already protects itself. If we can that sense of self to expand so that now the child is included in that sense of self, then the parents instinct to feed itself. Will be to feed the kid and the protect itself will be to protect the kid. And so all of those things will sort of happen automatically. So Having other people and of course over millions of years, we don't just love our kids, we love our friends, we love our spouses, but in each case what's happening is our sense of identity is expanding.

21:29 - Aaron Ahuvia  So that the other person becomes part of our identity not one hundred percentage not completely not the same way we are but to a large extent part of our identity and then we take care of them and we look at the out for their interests and we you know are proud of them and we treat them as if they're part of ourselves And this is also true with the stuff. So the stuff you love also becomes very much part of your identity. And you can see this in the sense of pride. So pride is an emotion that you feel about yourself, but Not other things.

22:06 - Aaron Ahuvia  So if somebody says the moon is very beautiful, you don't feel proud because you're not the moon. But if they say you are very beautiful, you do feel proud because it's addressed to you. Well, if if they say, oh, your outfit is very beautiful, you also feel proud. Now, why are you proud when somebody compliments your outfit and not? Probably they complement the moon? Because your outfit psychologically is part of who you are and so you feel proud about it in that way.

22:36 - Jeffrey Besecker  It could be such a dichotomy of schema in there where we start to form all of these fractured sense of selves. From my perspective, where this part of me is relating, this part's not, this part is looking for that part, you know. Whole notion of authenticity kind of steps in here for me, you know, what is our idea of authentic, You know, what is our core self then becomes some of that in our Reaction Are we ultimately looking for the you and me and me and you? And there's no real disconnection.

23:12 - Jeffrey Besecker  We're all that one core energy.

23:16 - Aaron Ahuvia  There is an authenticity, a big part of this, for the things people love, they do feel there's an authentic connection and you can see that. I mentioned part of it is a sense of pleasure.

23:29 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yes.

23:30 - Aaron Ahuvia  Things, things can be very valuable to people. But they don't necessarily love everything that's valuable to them. So your insurance policies are very valuable to you. I've I've been asking people about things that they love for 30 years. Nobody's ever told me they love their insurance policy.

23:47 - Jeffrey Besecker  I don't love that. Mine just went up. My relationship is kind of a love hate right now with my insurance policy.

23:56 - Aaron Ahuvia  Right? So it's got, so you've got a very pragmatic, practical relationship with your insurance policy and you can value it. If you've invested a lot of money in it, you can value it very highly, but you don't have any emotional connection with it, and the emotional connection comes from the sensee of pleasure. So I'll tell you about two women I interviewed. One of whom said that she loved her exercised Herr workout shoes, and the other one said that oh, I love my workout shoes. Well, you know, no, I don't, I don't know why I said that, I really don't love my workout shoes.

24:31 - Aaron Ahuvia  So I got this nice contrast there. And what was the difference between these two women? Why one of the love the shoes and the other one didn't. The one who loved her shoes enjoyed the process of working out, so when she was using the shoes, there was this intrinsic enjoyment of that experience. And that made her feel that her connection with the shoes were always an authentic expression of herself to that. Having that internal pleasure, which is not a conscious thing. It's not a decision you make, it's just the response of your body and mind to this activity.

25:06 - Aaron Ahuvia  The person says, Well, if my body is responding with pleasure, that tells me this is an authentic part of who I am. Whereas the other woman, you know, I don't really like working out, I like being fit, I like looking good. So I like the results of working out, but the process itself is not enjoyable to me. So I guesss what I really love is I love looking good or I love being fit. The, the shows are just a means to an end. So when something is just a means to an end, we can value it because maybe it's a good means, maybe it's an important means to the end, but we don't necessarily love it.

25:45 - Aaron Ahuvia  And we see that in our normal language with people too, when they say, does you know that person love the other person? Or are they just using the right? If they love them, that means there's this intrinsic, authentic connection. If they're just using them, they're just a means to an end, like this woman who was treating Herr and that's no love. There.

26:06 - Jeffrey Besecker  What we do often with our old pair of shoes, it no longer service, we just toss it aside and discard it.

26:13 - Aaron Ahuvia  A lot of the times are Here's a great segre to attachment. We ought to if we're rationals as iem discarded and we do that ninety nine percent of the time but sometimes you get attached to those shoes right and then they don't fit they're broken and you can't use them anymore and you still keep them right and that's how you know when you've got this kind of an emotional attachment when there's something that you really ought to throw away it's not doing you any good anymore um but you just feel like oh I can't really part with this thing I don't want I don't want to get rid of it.

26:46 - Jeffrey Besecker  So from that initial perspective, before we segue here, maybe. You say, then, that our core associations I'll say associations with the things we love are just simply meant to be a signal for us to validate and verify what we Value who we are and what we feel we are as human beings.

27:11 - Aaron Ahuvia  Yes, I think that that's in a broad term. If I were to give a very simplified definition of love, I might say loving something is finding it to be so excellent that you want to make it part of who you are. So this is, you know, this sort of desire for something is a desire to take that thing in just the same way when you love a person, it's in romantic love, you want to like, you want to like just pull them into you physically, you want to hug them, you want to kiss them, you like we want to connect and sort of merge with this other person to get pharmacological.

27:48 - Aaron Ahuvia  For a moment I don't know. How familiar you are. Drug Mdma that's being used.

28:01 - Jeffrey Besecker  I know of it. Let's put it that way. It's not something. I have a one to one relationship with of experience, so to speak. But yes,

28:11 - Aaron Ahuvia  Mdma Because it's very interesting from a scientific perspective, because it's a farm, it's a chemical agent, it works pharmacologically, physically on your brain, right? So it this physical activity going on your brain. And it was, people know it best as ecstasy and there's, you know, a lot of times when people would take it as a street drug, they'd use it at raves or party drug,

28:32 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yes.

28:34 - Aaron Ahuvia  it would have all kinds of other stuff mixed into it and if you, you know, dear listener or someone who sampled this, you probably don't know what the hell you were taking because it could have all kinds of stuff in it. Not a good thing to do, but scientists are very interested in this and there's a lot of medical research going on with this looking at how it can be used therapeutically. It creates if two people do it together, it creates this closeness, this bond between them and what it's doing.

29:06 - Aaron Ahuvia  Is, it's breaking down your sense of self and opening your sense of self and you just sort of are merging with this other person for, you know, a couple hours. It's an incredibly powerful experience to people who talk about having, having done it.

29:26 - Jeffrey Besecker  That's interesting to me to look at that from that level of maybe a more evolved, I say evolved or developed notion of ego, you know, that level of psyche where, you know, where do we start to form that separation from others, where do we form those separations within ourselves?

29:46 - Aaron Ahuvia  That's one of the common religious ideals people most associated with Buddhism, but there are mystical traditions in a lot of other religions that in Christianity and Judaism be willing to bet in Islam, although not an expert on that, that have a very similar take. At the sort of highest spiritual level. You have become one with everything right, And you, that sense of ego is broken down and so It's not just that, okay, your children are part of your sense of identity and now your, your mate is part of yours sens identity and your friend is, and maybe your hometown is, but the entire planet, maybe the entire universe, everything has been brought in and and when that happens, it creates a real sense of generosity towards the rest the universe.

30:44 - Aaron Ahuvia  Although there are also, you know, in psychology, people talk. Oh, I'm missing the term, I'm dropping the term, for it will come to me in a moment. But talk about unhealthy ways in which people sort of connect,

30:56 - Jeffrey Besecker  Mammo.

31:01 - Aaron Ahuvia  because most of the time the connection is, oh, I love this person, I'm Making them, bringing them into my sense of identity. I'm going to treat them well and generously, just as I brought myself to re treat it well and generously.

31:15 - Jeffrey Besecker  It be a very dissociated relationship where we're avoiding that actual act even though we're trying to initiate it.

31:25 - Aaron Ahuvia  Could you say more? What do you mean by that?

31:30 - Jeffrey Besecker  internal drive where we have the urge to connect. But for whatever reason, we form that natural resistance,

31:38 - Aaron Ahuvia  Oh.

31:38 - Jeffrey Besecker  then might be the emotional drive or the psychological drive. The disconnect or blocking point.

31:47 - Aaron Ahuvia  Yeah, a lot of that happens. According to attachment theory, which you've probably talked about in this show in the past and is just a quick refresher. The basic idea is that as you're a young child, if you are strongly, positively attached, which is another just another synonym for love. You've got a good love relationship with your parents, usually your mother. Then you build this model in your head that like, oh, the world is a safe place, other people are good and when you grow up, you keep that model in your mind and it's easier to form relationships because you basically trust other people.

32:26 - Aaron Ahuvia  If when you're young, you have a very troubled relationship with your parents, then you can build Different, more negative models. One is I'm not worthy of love, that's why this isn't going well as a one year old, or I'm worthy of love, but other people aren't trustworthy. They're not going to give me the love I need, they're going, they're going to do bad things for me or in the worst case scenario, no one's gonna love me because they are all nasty. But even if they weren't, I'm not worthy of love either.

33:02 - Aaron Ahuvia  You could have like the, the worst combination there and those models stick. With you, and then they actually affect the way you relate to objects as well. So there are some situations in which people do sort of transfer, there is a little bit of either or kind of thing. So people who are into animals, pets, Frequently are people who have a little bit of difficulty in their social relationships with people. This is not true for everyone. I'm not saying because you own a dog, you have a hard time making friends, right?

33:45 - Aaron Ahuvia  My wife and I, we have two dogs, we love them.

33:47 - Jeffrey Besecker  at a relationship. I just pondered today, you know, and there are times where I can look back on that. And I did not. Just bringing this into reference, it was very poignant today, very relevant. Where was pondering that connection with not just my present dog but past dogs, where there is that kind of Non judgemental I'm just accepted for me kind of a relationship.

34:12 - Aaron Ahuvia  Oh yeah, our, our dogs love us. I s I once saw a bumper sticker that said uh, God help me, be the person my dog thinks I am and I, I love that, that could have a person clearly my dog thinks I'm fantastic. There are people who will tell you straight out, they'll say, well, like I like dogs or I like cats more than I like people in that kind of a situation. For those individuals. There's a sort of a substitution going on, there is they have, for whatever reason of difficulty in their relationship with people and they're substituting these, these pets, that kind of thinking.

34:55 - Aaron Ahuvia  Is very a big issue, still is an issue in the research on our relationships with objects.

35:00 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yes.

35:00 - Aaron Ahuvia  So when some of this research started, there was a very famous book by Rush, Burg Halton, and then another gentleman who went on to become quite famous, a guy named Ma Holly Chicken Maha, who's known for his work on flow and happiness and a bunch of other stuff. But one of the very early books, they went and talked just to a whole bunch of people, went to their homes about, I would say, things that they loved. They called them favorite possessions or special possessions.

35:29 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yes.

35:30 - Aaron Ahuvia  The same thing and they also had these people fill out some psychological measures, and one of the things that they assumed going in was that the people who had the most attachments to objects would have the fewest social relationships because they were trying to compensate for their lack of social relationships and what they found was fascinating. It was just the opposite, that the people who had the most related connection to objects also tend to have the most connection to people.

36:03 - Aaron Ahuvia  And if you think about attachment theory, this makes sensee. So there are some people, there are They're raised with really good, strong, safe, comfortable relationships with their parents. They feel the world's a good place. They get to be good at making relationships and they make relationships with people and they make relationships with things. They're just relationships prone people. And there are other people who are much more wary and standoffish and they have a hard time with people and they have a hard time with things.

36:30 - Aaron Ahuvia  So that's, that's part of it is then the other side just really quick, which is another huge aspect to this is that. Most of the time, the things we love do connect us to people. So if you ask someone if your house was burning down, you can only save a few things. What would you save? They'll say, Oh, I'd save the photo albums, I'd save this souvenir, I'd save this gift I got from somebody. All the things that they're going to save are things that connect them to other people. So they're photographs of themselves with other people.

37:03 - Aaron Ahuvia  There's a piece of furniture that was in their family for generations that they feel connected. The, to the history of their family. There's a gift they receive from this person. It's very special because they care about that person. So if we love things Largely because they remind us of a people that we love. Well, if you have a lot of people in your life that you love, you're going to have a lott of things to remind you of them. And if you don't have really close relationships, you're not going to have all these things around your house reminding you of these relationships because you don't have them.

37:28 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yep. From that aspect, I'm gonna reel back here. I feel you say, then our core. Sense of security not only drives our sense of self, but also our ability to connect, interact with, and then also the objects that we love and value.

37:55 - Aaron Ahuvia  For the most part I, I would, so it is complicated, I would say that the main, the main dynamic, yeah, I hear that for me every, every question I answer, it's complicated, that's what you get, that's what you get. With me it's always

38:08 - Jeffrey Besecker  a master in complications. Sometimes the point that I struggle to simplify.

38:16 - Aaron Ahuvia  Yeah, so the, the mo, the largest effect, the main situation is that the things that we love usually connect us to other people. There are some and I know you wanted to talk about this, if we can get into this. Darker sides to things, things that we love become, do become a substitute. Really have never seen. Maybe I just, you know, don't get out enough, but I've never seen a case where people have fallen so in love with some hobby or some object. It's really pulled them away, It's destroyed their relationships with people.

39:02 - Aaron Ahuvia  The only times that that happens are that I'm aware of is with drug addiction that you the drug becomes such a powerful pull on them that it really destroys all kinds of other stuff in their life. But I've never seen someone is like, Oh, I started plucking beer cans and I'm so into beer cans that I don't want to see my friends anymore. I just want to hang out with my collection and beer cans. That doesn't happen, but what does happen is Start, you know, collecting beer cans or whatever they're collecting, whatever it is.

39:33 - Aaron Ahuvia  And they've all already have sort of a social deficit. They're already, they're lonely. They have a hard time making friends, and they find that this connection to these objects keeps them busy. It doesn't build, it doesn't replace the social connection. It doesn' keep them feeling lonely, but it distracts them from their feelings of loneliness. They're busy, they've got something else to do. It entertains them and so they put a lot of time into it. And then a strange thing happens with people and this comes.

40:02 - Aaron Ahuvia  You see this in the psychological literature on loneliness You would think that when people were very lonely, they'd be very high highly motivated to go out and do social things,

40:11 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yes.

40:11 - Aaron Ahuvia  but for some reason, we have this negative psychological cycle that'll happen where when people start to get very lonely, they get resistant to going out and doing social things and meeting new people and then it can sort of spiral and just become worse and worse through that and and so if you've got some sort of an interest maybe is playing video games. Whatever it might be, that is something you do, that's a solitary interest. If you get into the cycle of loneliness, then that can get become more and more important in your life.

40:44 - Aaron Ahuvia  But I don't think it's really driven. Your extreme love for this thing again with unless it's an addiction, and I wouldn't call that love, but I don't think it's really driven by your extreme desire for this thing.

40:54 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yep.

40:57 - Aaron Ahuvia  I think that it, it starts. People are much more motivated around people than they are around objects, and people really drive our motivations and the objects kind of come along for the rise Att.

41:10 - Jeffrey Besecker  It's interesting for me to look at from my study and my practice of then tend to move into some of those emotionally avoidant behaviours, those acts of suppression, those acts of self sabotage. Especially, you know, I'm just now contemplating this idea of know a horder, how we get so caught up in that cycle and process. If I got to grab more, I got to find more of this thing and I'm ordering these things and how that might in many cases distract us again away from that act of what emotion, what interactions, what connections.

41:47 - Jeffrey Besecker  Amm I actually trying to avoid or suppress.

41:51 - Aaron Ahuvia  So there's two different things that are going on in some of the behaviors you described and they're both worth talking about. They, they're very interesting. I know the show wants to focus on unconscious issues and this is a good chance to get into some of those on unconscious issues, so. Your Listers, I mean, may have heard stuff people talk about like a distinction. They talk about the left brain versus the right brain or these kinds of dichotomies. I'm going to introduce a new one that's very powerful in the brain that I'm not sure everyone will be quite as familiar with,

42:21 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yes, yeah.

42:25 - Aaron Ahuvia  and that is that Sometimes is even in different parts physically of your brain, but it's really just different ways that your brain works. Your brain works one way when it thinks about people, and it works in a very different way when it thinks about things. It's very good at most of the time of separating people from things, and it does this on an unconscious basis. So if you are looking at a person and you want to know like, oh, have I seen that person before? Your brain will process that visual information in one physical part of the brain.

43:01 - Aaron Ahuvia  But if you're looking at a plate and asking the same question, it will process it in a different physical part of the brain. So this is, that's There's a very clear distinction biologically in your brain with how it works on these things, and that makes a lot of sensee because a lot of things, 1st of all people are much more important to you than most things. So the parts of the brain that cover what are called social thinking or the processes in the brain that involve social thinking.

43:27 - Aaron Ahuvia  Take a lot more energy and resources than the ones that don't. So that's kind of like the high powered, you know, parts of the brain that's, you can sort of think of that as like the 1st class section, right? And, and, and there's, and there's a bouncer there who saying the only people get to go into the 1st last section, right? Because we're going to lavish them with resources, we're going to think very deeply about them things you've got to go coach, right, push you off in this other section.

43:55 - Aaron Ahuvia  So When you are a hoarder, what's happening is there's a malfunction in your brain and this sorting device, I sometimes call it the bouncer in your brain, that's sorting the people. Into one category, things the other This sorting device is malfunctioning and it's putting a lot of things in the people category and that's why they have a hard time getting rid of things. You want. It's good. Like if you, especially if it's a person you're a close relationship with, you want to be loyal to them and you want them to be loyal to you, you don't want a situation where You know you'll get injured and all of a sudden all your friends walk away from you and say, Oh, he's a broken person, I don't want anything to do with him.

44:46 - Aaron Ahuvia  You want them to keep you around even when that happens, and that's part of what our love is. It's a compact between people that even if you break your arm, I'm still gonna take care of you at that point. But you don't want that for stuff. If if if you've got a teapot and it's broken, you don't want to keep it around, you want to get rid of it. So your brain sorts things out this way so that it's easy to get rid of the teapot, but you don't necessarily get rid of the people. When you start putting all the teapots in the people category, you can't get rid of them either.

45:17 - Aaron Ahuvia  And you'll see this, I have one example in the book of a, a woman who was a hoarder Went to the store and picked up some more I think it was canned peas and brought them home, and the the researcher was hissing her well, you've already got like eight unused cans of peas. In your cupboard, why did you go buy a 9th one? And she said Well I was in the store and all the peas of this kind were all sold except for this one can that was just sitting there on the shelf all by itself and it looked so lonely.

45:52 - Aaron Ahuvia  And for a long I thought, oh I've gotta buy it and take it home so it can be with his friends, all these other cans of peas that I have on my shelf and it'll, it'll be happy there. Obviously, her brain is thinking about this can of peas in a, you know, in a very human way and that's a core mechanism that underlies people's warding behavior.

46:14 - Jeffrey Besecker  You know, that again to me moves us back toward that act of dissociation where we're disconnecting from the actual interaction. Yeah, we often hear that we reflect our belief or we reflect our desires, you know, especially our core blocks. That act of nurturing to me. Might then symbol that relationship back in our childhood where we didn't feel seen, acknowledged and nurtured. Now I become the caregiver, now I project that out and I'm unsafe to do it with human beings. The can is not judging me.

46:53 - Jeffrey Besecker  The can does not expect a response for me. The can is unable then to carry out anything that I feel a threat within my environment.

47:05 - Aaron Ahuvia  For the most part there is there is a sort of safety of objects. Sometimes it's, it's weird. People feel, you know, can sometimes personify and anti amortize objects to such an extent that they sometimes feel they are judging them, you know, they, they don't feel as you think, they would feel really safe. This is true with food. People talk about food like that chocolate cookie is always gonna be there for me, it's always gonna love me. And and that's, that's definitely as well, yeah, I could be that one.

47:39 - Jeffrey Besecker  You know, I'm back up a 2nd here and this is a thought that kind of come to me. We talked about That kind of bodyguard in that interaction, you know, that switch. That bumps us you know what area of the brains processing this is something that's always fascinated me when we look at that notion of mindset you know and we hear mindset matters mindset matters mindset matters it becomes the condition mantra so i've always been fascinated I tend to look for a forty thousand view how do we Reverse engineer this what determines 1st and foremost which part of the brain is going to when we start to learn and it's a different part of the brain I stumbled upon this awareness of afferent and efferent neuro What is it?

48:01 - Aaron Ahuvia  Mobil.

48:28 - Jeffrey Besecker  I'll get it here. I'm like you earlier that the word is escaping me. The neuro neuro You know, it's that response, I'll fix this later. But efferent and efferent neurons,

48:39 - Aaron Ahuvia  Okay.

48:42 - Jeffrey Besecker  there they come to me that control literally through your ventral vagal nerve and guiding which area that brain it goes to, you know. There again, my own attachment to that need for security and certainty. I said what is creating? I'd like to have that understanding in my bell.

49:02 - Aaron Ahuvia  Yeah, well the, there is a switch or a sorting mechanism in your brain and it's sorting things. Into two or three groups depending on how you want to think about it. It's sorting things into like the objects, the people. And then there's also this group with within people, people that or I'm close to and people who I'm not close to and the people I'm not close to get treated partly as if they're objects and partly as they're people, kind of in between category in the way your brain works.

49:31 - Aaron Ahuvia  And it is sometimes true that there are different physical parts of the brain that do this kind of thinking. It's also true that sometimes it's a matter of different processes, more the different places that are going on. But there's definitely a big difference between what called social thinking, when we think about people, and objectified thinking, the way we, the way we think about objects. Your brain actually decides if something is a person or an object. It decides that twice.

49:57 - Aaron Ahuvia  So it decides that once consciously and once unconsciously. And that's very important because most of the time they agree. So when I'm looking at, you know, my glasses. My conscious brain says they're an object and my unconscious brain says they're an object, and that's all good. But there are these situations where they don't agree. And that's what's going on with the woman and her can of peas. Her conscious brain says it's a can of peas, her unconscious brain says it's a person, and she starts treating it like a person.

50:30 - Aaron Ahuvia  This has a big impact, a big impact. Now that's come up a lot with artificial intelligence and falling in love with avatars online. There are companies that you can go to. There's one called Replicant, and until recently, Well, they've got avatars, so you go and you talk to it looks like a person. It's just a computer generated image.

50:58 - Jeffrey Besecker  I've seen the,

51:00 - Aaron Ahuvia  It speaks using artificial intelligence.

51:03 - Jeffrey Besecker  the girlfriend that don't talk back as bad as that sounds.

51:03 - Aaron Ahuvia  and you can have, yeah, and you can have this friendship and people who really like these friendships, right? You can have this friendship with. And then they used to have an option for romantic relationships as well, that you can have a romantic relationship with all these things. They recently stopped that because they were getting kind of weird press about it, But there are others that are taking this up. And people really fall in love with these things, and the reason is that the love is driven by their unconscious mind, and so their conscious mind knows that it's not a person unconsciously.

51:36 - Aaron Ahuvia  That switch is very easily fooled and that processing as if it is a person and you're generating this love. I just was reading last night about another wrinkle in this whole thing that was should not have surprised me, but did so. There's a influencer who's a very attractive woman. Attractive young woman, who for a dollar a minute you can sign up and she'll be your girlfriend. But it's not her, you don't get her. She hass computer avatar that looks just like her and that is run by artificial intelligence that she says has her personality.

52:18 - Aaron Ahuvia  And for a dollar a minute, you can have the computer avatar as your girlfriend. And apparently there are over a thousand people who have signed up,

52:27 - Jeffrey Besecker  Wow.

52:28 - Aaron Ahuvia  who are all paying to have this flexibility. So it's almost a person. There is a person who looks like this. It's just you're not interacting with that person, you're interacting with the AI version of that. But uh, you know, it's as close as you can get.

52:44 - Jeffrey Besecker  That's interesting. I want to take a moment and pause here because I get a couple of thoughts I'd like to work through with you. 1st and foremost, we've been doing some research background on social community, social interaction, you know, what are some of the unconscious beliefs There? We stumbled across this notion of, you know, how in group and out group bias often surfaces through the act of parochial empathy, where Empathy is that ability to see that core empathy and compassion to people.

53:16 - Jeffrey Besecker  You share those like values with. That. Marketing. We're going back to our marketing backgrounds here because there is that large element, the core, guiding element to me of human interaction, human connection, this idea of no like trust as kind of a new brand love. No, like trust builds our perception. That kind of switch or bodyguard Gateway Do I accept this person and connect or do I reject? I'd like to hear your thoughts on how you might interact with that idea. Moll it over if you have to a minute, and if you need deeper questioning, go ahead and go to the deeper questioning.

54:07 - Aaron Ahuvia  I'll let your editors fix this one. I'm Not a hundred sure what the question was. Could you go? I I got a little lost there.

54:16 - Jeffrey Besecker  We look at that idea of no like can trust as a brand motto. As a marketing model, elements might come into play. That create either the connection in that idea of no like or trust, or maybe the adverse or flip side of that where we start to leverage that as a form of biases that limits our ability to connect. Rather than creative, the engaged connection.

54:45 - Aaron Ahuvia  What I'm a little lost on is do you want an answerer from the like, a marketing perspective, you've got a brand or do you wanna?

54:51 - Jeffrey Besecker  Like to go a little deeper to the psychological side where that might become that slippery slope divide, you know, Do we engage in group connection or do we stray into a bias and disconnect, it becomes moving the person Another separate potential conversation we're looking at another potential episode is why do we psychologically other people and slide them into one category or the other, turning them into that stuff or sometimes even turning them into that old shoe that we discard and pitch.

55:30 - Jeffrey Besecker  This might even bridge into some of those conversations where we could share two or three times.

55:38 - Aaron Ahuvia  Let me start with a little bit about in groups and out groups. Most of I'm talking about this, this switch in your brain that roots things, routes in things as either people or things. I did very briefly mention how actually you could think of it as three categories because when you get to people, there's people were close to and people were not close to. So that's another way of talking about the in group, out group distinction. About people that are close to you, especially people that you love.

56:19 - Aaron Ahuvia  There's no difference between the way your brain processes them, thinks about them, and the way you think about yourself. And that's part of what we started off by talking about how when you love something, you make it part of yourself and part of the evidence. The scientific evidence for that is simply that. Yeah, we can see that when you think about yourself. Your brain does it in one way and when you think about some stranger does it another way and it's someone that you love. You think about them the way you think about yourself.

56:46 - Aaron Ahuvia  So they, they're very much. It's not just poetry to say this other person is part of yourself. I mean your brain is treating it like this person is part of yourself. And then the objects are even further away right that than people are that the strangers are out or or out group of In terms. Trust. That is a nice from, especially from a marketing perspective. And also perhaps from interpersonal perspective, it's a very plausible path, right? If there's some new product, 1st you have to find out what it is, you have to know it and then you decide if you like it and then if you do like it, you decide if you're going to trust it.

57:42 - Aaron Ahuvia  Part of that process that a lot of people don't understand, that's really overlooked, is that knowing you could do that. The object, parts or processes in the brain. You can do that entirely with objectified thinking, or you can also do that with social thinking.

58:02 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yes.

58:03 - Aaron Ahuvia  So you start to get to know a product out there, let's say it's your insurance, right? You can know about your insurance might get to think it's good. You like it in the sense that you think it's good insurance, you value it and you trust it. You, you've researched the company and you found out that they do pay off their policies most of the time. And so you, you, you, you know it, you like it, you trust it, but it's all Using the objectified thinking you don't have an emotional connection to that, whereas when I talk about brand love, it starts out the same you have to know something about this product or this organization.

58:47 - Aaron Ahuvia  But then something hass to happen to get you to think about it in a social way, to get your brain start processing it in a social way, because that's where you start to feel the sense of connection to it such that this emotional connection and you start to really trust it in a deeper way and want it and connect it and you get all this emotional action. Is very valuable in creating this kind of connection. So if you want people not just to value something, but to have this deeper sensee of emotional connection to it.

59:21 - Aaron Ahuvia  The secret there is. 1st There has to be some enjoyment to it. We talked about the women in their running shoes, right? That you have to, you have to. Like that's why nobody loves their insurance, because there's no pleasure in insurance,

59:33 - Jeffrey Besecker  My brother in law is going to kill me for this.

59:33 - Aaron Ahuvia  just paying this money and it just and it disappears, right? It's very, it's important. I'm very happy, I have my insurance, I pay for my insurance, but it's not fun, there's nothing fun about it, right? So you don't get that sensee of emotional connection from that pleasure. But then there is this other aspect is which your brain isn't thinking about it as if it was a person. And there's three ways that you get your brain to think about something as a person. The 1st is you anthropomorphized it.

1:00:02 - Aaron Ahuvia  So you see this with products like Sa on your phone or Alexa where you talk to it and it talks back to you and when, when it emulates a person, it looks like a person, it sounds like a person, it talks like a person, and acts like a person. Your unconscious mind will start treating it like a person. That's why people fall in love with these avatars on computer screens to talk to them, you know, because it looks like a person, it talks like a person. You're conscious mind knows it's not a person.

1:00:32 - Aaron Ahuvia  You're unconscious mind makes a different decision that it is a person and you get this emotional relationship to it. The 2nd way, it doesn't have to itself look or sound like a person, it just has to be connected to a person in your mind. So insurance. The extent that people are loyal to their insurance companies, it's not about the insurance, it's because the insurance salesperson has done a really good job and they know and trust the person who sold them the insurance. So, so they have an emotional connection.

1:01:02 - Aaron Ahuvia  It's not actually to the insurance, it's to the person who sold them insurance. But the, these things are very connected in your mind and you could tell if you've got that kind of emotional connection because you're feeling about the object depends on is connected to your feeling about the person. Classic example You're dating someone, they give you a gift, you feel you're in love with them. It's a decorative gift of vase or a little something and you put it on your mantel piece and you're very happy every time you see it and you think, Oh, I love that thing, it's so beautiful.

1:01:33 - Aaron Ahuvia  And then you break up with the person. The relationship is bad, you're very angry at them. You look at that daze on your rental piece, you're like, this is horrible, I'm getting rid of this thing. It's the 1st thing to go. So your feelings about the object are really a reflection of your feelings about the person. When you can do that, that's another way to get people start having their brain process something in, in social and human ways. And companies do this all the time. Companies will have a spokesperson that will be connected to the brand and then your feelings about the brand become to the spokesperson.

1:02:07 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yep.

1:02:09 - Aaron Ahuvia  Or maybe it's the founder. Like I know a lot of people were fans of on Musk He's hit a little bit of a rocky road lately with some people, but you know, Elon Musk or Steve Jobs or people who are really into Ferrari are very big on Enzo Ferrari, the founder of that company. So fashion designers, people are very into fashion designers or obviously bands, you see the band as a person or a sports team, the people on the sports team. So there's lots of ways that these connections happen that way.

1:02:42 - Aaron Ahuvia  And then the 3rd way is that you just get it to be part of the person's own sense of identity. So if something is part of who you think you are. Because you're a person, your brain will process that in these social ways and you'll develop that same kind of emotional connection to it, and that's always a part of it when you love something. Sometimes it connects you to another person, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes it's anthropomorphic, sometimes it isn't, but always it's a part of your own identity or wouldn't be love.

1:03:12 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yeah, it's interesting in that regard. Hard for me then to go back and look to that reference earlier in our conversation. Talking about my insurance company, I don't have an agent, you know, it's all online. Therefore, relationship Through the mascot, I'll say the mass cut, I'm not going to necessarily give the pitch for the company here, but through the mascot is the only kind of material association I have. Might that then make it easier for me to entertain that idea of, you know, breaking up that relationship?

1:03:45 - Jeffrey Besecker  Now my sense of value is challenged,

1:03:45 - Aaron Ahuvia  Oh, yeah.

1:03:48 - Jeffrey Besecker  now I'm biased because suddenly as the price inflates, I'm seeing this disconnect, you know, I'm starting to form this biased view now that somehow this company is now lesser, even though I been happy in that relationship,

1:04:05 - Aaron Ahuvia  Well,

1:04:05 - Jeffrey Besecker  based on that value,

1:04:05 - Aaron Ahuvia  I would not.

1:04:06 - Jeffrey Besecker  I'm going to divorce them.

1:04:08 - Aaron Ahuvia  I wouldn't call that a biased view, though. I would call that a relatively unbiased view,

1:04:12 - Jeffrey Besecker  Relatively informed, huh?

1:04:14 - Aaron Ahuvia  relatively. For great because maybe it's, maybe it's just an expensive and maybe it's not the best insurance for you. So one of the things your brain, but when your brain treats things as an object, it's easier to be unbiased about that and that's sort of more of an unbiased realm. It's when your brain starts treating something as a person that these biases just come flying all over the place. So If you associate a product with like your in group, you know, this is the music that we listened to, remember back in high school.

1:04:47 - Aaron Ahuvia  This is true, You know, there's all these different cliques out there and so many of them have their own music, like, oh, these are people who listen to this music, these people listen to this other music, whatever, ah, it might be. If your clique listens to a certain music, you're gonna evaluate that an incredibly biased way and you're gonna hate the other group. I listen to country music now. I enjoy it on the radio. When I was a teenager, I, oh, I thought it was terrible. Why did I, you know, hate it so much then.

1:05:15 - Aaron Ahuvia  Well, because just because my group of people, we were the rock people, we weren't the country music people. Yeah, they were, they were some other group of people And so I'm very, I'm very happy to hang out with my country music people now don't have those, you know. Nice thing about not being in high school anymore. You got to outgrow some of that silly stuff, but Yeah, so you get very biased about that. And people will like or not like products, depending on who they think is making it, how they feel about the people who made the product.

1:05:50 - Aaron Ahuvia  And you can and they'll flip their opinion if they think something is made by one person, they don't like them, they won't like it. They learn made by somebody else will be like, Oh yeah, I guess I see those things in there that I didn't see before. So the biases tend to come in there. And it's in the human sphere that you get the in group and the out group. So there's a lot of things, you know, when we create our identity, partly through the things we own or the things we buy. But what's very important a lot of times that the things we wouldn't own or wouldn't buy and those are things that are associated without groups.

1:06:22 - Aaron Ahuvia  So you know, I would never show that particular brand right. I would be embarrassed to own that particular item. And it's usually because it's not about the brand, it's about other people, the other human beings, the out group that you associate with that brand.

1:06:42 - Jeffrey Besecker  It's very interesting to see how kind of micro and ma. How far we zoom in, zoom out on that lens can become down so much, even to our association with collars. I'll throw it out there like that. Our cultural associations, even with core colors. How might that psychology start to come into play with those associations?

1:07:09 - Aaron Ahuvia  Well, people have looked at, psychologists have looked at why people love certain colors, more than It's really a matter of how you associate them with with other objects. So there's a particular color of brown that's nobody's favorite, and There's, there's a real, it's a universal reason for that. We just have a negative association with that color brown, and people really don't like it a very much. But there are other colors that are very variable. So there's actually a correlation between how much people like the color yellow and how much they like bananas.

1:07:49 - Aaron Ahuvia  The yellow is associated so much with bananas that it sort of carries over another. You know, so you'll find people in colleges like they'll come to love the school colors of their own university, and if there's some other rival university that they're supposed to dislike, they'll dislike the colors from the rivalry university.

1:08:16 - Jeffrey Besecker  It's such an interesting dichotomy to just kind of ponder. We can empower that and sometimes reduce it. Does the core value lie? You know, that's such a unique area to look at.

1:08:34 - Aaron Ahuvia  You can. You can learn to like things. One of the pieces of advice I in the book is that It's very easy to make snap judgments about objects, about a song. You decide if you'd like it or not instantaneously. A lot of times that's valuable information. But there are other situations in which you can cultivate a taste for things. I think there's a virtue in cultivating a taste for things that aren't necessarily part of your social in group. Maybe pick something, there's some out group, you know.

1:09:15 - Aaron Ahuvia  You all listen to this music. They listen to this other kind of music. Spend some time with that other kind of music, think nice thoughts about it, get to know it, get to like it, and then you, maybe you'll have an opening for the people that are involved too. Because I think those associations work both ways. I mean the reason that you don't like that other music is because you don't like the people and when you get to like the music, maybe it opens you up a little bit to liking the people.

1:09:42 - Jeffrey Besecker  could relate to that, because I spent ten years in music marketing Perhaps to kind of sum our show up today, you know, looking at that relationship, when we have that divide between what we consider, you know, are inacceptable, what is pleasing to us. And being available and open to shift to those things that might be challenging. I find it interesting to look at that idea of we're taught or we or condition, that idea of we only grow and we're uncomfortable. Yet we don't always embrace that discomfort to move toward the change.

1:10:22 - Jeffrey Besecker  When we view how we associate with people and brands, when we associate with in groups, out groups might be the psychological leverage point or sticking point that creates That middle ground where we shift psychologically from disconnection into connection, it's broad, maybe too broad, I don't know. Is there a common thing that you know, what is the tipping point between what we like and what we don't like,

1:11:03 - Aaron Ahuvia  All right, we're go after the editors fix this one too.

1:11:05 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yeah, I'm diving back into the whole nother direction,

1:11:06 - Aaron Ahuvia  It's so I,

1:11:08 - Jeffrey Besecker  I know that.

1:11:10 - Aaron Ahuvia  it's just, it's just so what, what distinguishes between what we like and what we don't like, that there's so many. Different factors in there.

1:11:17 - Jeffrey Besecker  It might be too broad today.

1:11:19 - Aaron Ahuvia  It's a, it's a little bit too broad of a question, to answer easily.

1:11:26 - Jeffrey Besecker  We going into another hour if we do that. Maybe that's a comeback, I don't know. We're reaching a point here where I feel we've kind of hit our core objectives. Is there anything you feel we've missed? Let's just real it there. Did we miss anything, or is there anything we can add that will help sum things up here and why we love things and why we often have that divide?

1:11:55 - Aaron Ahuvia  Oh, well, there's a, there's a topic that I think would be of interest, that I do think we kind of missed, and I'd like to get into it a little bit if we can.

1:12:04 - Jeffrey Besecker  Let's cover that.

1:12:05 - Aaron Ahuvia  Let's cover that. So. Let's talk a little bit about materialism. The word means a lott of different things to different people. I've done a lot of research on materialism. Some people use the word materialism to mean just like any sort of attachment to a material object. So if you really love your sofa, that's, you know, materialistic, it can be, you can use the word materialism that wayy, that's a legitimate way to use it. It's not really the way that I tend to think about it, especially after doing the kind of research I've been doing.

1:12:51 - Aaron Ahuvia  Most of our relationships with things are ways of Relating to other people in disguise right there, we don't really care that much about stuff. And what really drives our emotions about stuff are associations that we have in our mind between those objects and other people. And then they get swept up and our feelings about the other people and our feelings about other people can be very strong. On positive or negative, I see is problematic materialism. Use objects and money to try and play a competitive status game.

1:13:37 - Aaron Ahuvia  It's not We all have to play this game. Part of human nature is split, part of it is affiliated. Be coming close to people and connecting with people. Competing with other people is an inherent part of the human experience. We're never going to be, you know, in a society where we, there's no competition, but we can tone it down a little bit and it's not, it doesn't make for the happiest relationships with people to be socially competing about status all the time. And so there's lots of ways to kind of turn the volume down on that and emphasize finding close, warm relationships with people and de emphasize competing over status with people.

1:14:27 - Aaron Ahuvia  The things that we love tend to be things that help us form those warm relationships with people. It's the, I love, you know, this game because I play it with these other people and it brings us closer together. I love my Tv set because I have my friends over to watch things on it together and it brings us closer together all sorts of objects which seem very materialistic, at the core it's usually that we have these connections that, that bring us closer together. I talked a whole study on young people and their love of cell phones, the thoughts about cell phones, and it was fascinating.

1:15:07 - Aaron Ahuvia  What they really wanted was the connection to their friends. It's, it's not always the best way to connect to other people, but that's what they want from the phone is they want the connection to their friends and the people who have more friends love their phones more. So it's a correlation between the number of friends a person has and how much they love their phone because they, they love their phone because it's connecting them to their friends. But there's this whole other side, which is when using the stuff to compete for status with other people.

1:15:34 - Aaron Ahuvia  And I saw this also. It just horrifying ways in the study, young people on their phones that there were. I talked to people who were literally bullied at school because they had the wrong cell phone. People would come and tease them and harassed them. You've got the wrong phone, You don't have the cool phone, you've got the other phone, you're a loser. It's just horrifying kinds of stuff to hear. And so What I think of as materialism is that's an extreme example, but we do this when we buy status goods, when we buy stuff that shows off one way or another.

1:16:17 - Aaron Ahuvia  What I hope people would focus around. Isn't whether you have a relationship to some object. There's nothing the matter with objects. There's nothing the matter with the physical world. The physical world that we live in is a wonderful thing and and physical existence is the only existence we have, in my view. And I'm, I'm very happy to be here. There's nothing wrong with nature, there's nothing wrong with your body, there's nothing wrong with stuff or other objects out there in the world.

1:16:46 - Aaron Ahuvia  The problem comes in when you use those objects in a way competitive and makes other people feel less less than and that drives a wedge between you and other people. And that's trying to be a source of one upmanship as opposed to using those things to build a stronger community and build better, warmer relationships with people. So that would be my take on things. I would suggest Evaluating. Something as being either good or bad. Because it's a physical object, I would say the evaluation should come in.

1:17:27 - Aaron Ahuvia  How does this object shape my relationships with other people?

1:17:35 - Jeffrey Besecker  I think that's a great point to kind of sit with and end on the day. How do we step back from ourselves? To form more openness, vulnerability, and conscientiousness. Simply, and how we view our connections throughout life and throughout the world. I want to thank you for sharing such insight and wisdom today and this. Truly, every moment of this conversation, Hass led me to a new path of thinking. Hass shifted my perspective and gotten me out of my own way. So thank you for providing that doorway.

1:18:15 - Aaron Ahuvia  Well, thank you very much for Having me on the show,

1:18:16 - Jeffrey Besecker  Can we.

1:18:18 - Aaron Ahuvia  it's really been a pleasure.

1:18:21 - Jeffrey Besecker  It truly has been a pleasure for me as well. Where can our guests go, our listeners? I'm so lost, he still wrapped up and wrapping my brain about this. Where can our listeners go to connect with the things we love? How our patients connect us and make us who we are. I'd love to get them in touch with the book.

1:18:43 - Aaron Ahuvia  sure the book is available on most large bookstores. Any online bookstore will have the book i've got a website called the things we love dot com so just you know all one word the things we love dot com and if you're curious it's got a little quiz so you can put in something that you think you might love like you write in my shoes then you'll answer a couple questions about it and it'll give you a score your love score and you can seee whether you really love your shoes or not or you can put in anything you want so it's kind of fun You can find that on the website as well as finding information about the book, and I do a lot of public speaking.

1:19:24 - Aaron Ahuvia  If you're interested in that, you can find that on the website as well.

1:19:28 - Jeffrey Besecker  I'm adding this book to my new list of things I love. I look forward to diving even further into it and learning even more after this conversation. I love that we've had this connection today, Eron, and that we've shared this conversation. Mamas day the light me acknowledges the lighting you, Thank you so much.

1:19:48 - Aaron Ahuvia  nomo day as well. Thank you for having me. It's been a great conversation.

1:19:53 - Jeffrey Besecker  It truly has, Thank you, my friend. I think it's a rap, man.

1:19:58 - Aaron Ahuvia  Great. There we go.

1:19:58 - Jeffrey Besecker  I'm blown away.

1:19:59 - Aaron Ahuvia  That was fun.

1:20:00 - Jeffrey Besecker  I, I have like superseded any expectation I had. You did truly open so many doorways and I'm just kind of blown away at how many interconnected aspects that this spins off into other conversations we're having. So thank you,

1:20:14 - Aaron Ahuvia  Well, thank you very much.

1:20:15 - Jeffrey Besecker  I'd love if you're open. Into that idea. I'd like to maybe dissect some of these conversations we've had today, and even if I interject it as a blurb and then help give you like an additional two or three connection points,

1:20:30 - Aaron Ahuvia  That would be,

1:20:30 - Jeffrey Besecker  you're gonna pop back up, you know, for some longevity in your marketing.

1:20:35 - Aaron Ahuvia  that would be fine. I'd love that. Yeah, If you want to talk later or or do something else,

1:20:37 - Jeffrey Besecker  Awesome.

1:20:38 - Aaron Ahuvia  let me know.

1:20:39 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yeah, I'd love to look at having another idea of, you know, communicating some other, some other things cause I feel, you know, there is such an expansion of wealth here when we connect. So thank you for that truly. This has been such fun. I'm looking at, I got a look at scheduling, on how we're putting this one together. It will probably be in either next week or the following week, I feel or release.

1:21:08 - Aaron Ahuvia  All right.

1:21:09 - Jeffrey Besecker  Let me bounce back after I talk with my crew today and see where we're gonna wrap and how we wrap. I feel this is like a standalone. Our core conversation in and of itself today. Hit It's kind of like a godsend today because We did touch on a lot of things that I've been searching for, you know, soul searching. And within our group we keep coming up, here's a pattern, why do we do that? You know, here's another thing, whyy do we do that, How do we bridge some of that? And we did kind of open that doorway to so many different things, so.

1:21:41 - Aaron Ahuvia  In your group, what you have a, what's this group that you're part of is it a formal group?

1:21:45 - Jeffrey Besecker  Well, just within our core team here for one,

1:21:48 - Aaron Ahuvia  Oh, your car team,

1:21:48 - Jeffrey Besecker  and then also our interactions without our listeners or throughout our listeners.

1:21:49 - Aaron Ahuvia  I see.

1:21:55 - Jeffrey Besecker  We gauge a lot on what we're communicating through our social media interactions, both with guests, with clients, with partners, just in life in general, it's like, where do these patterns bump up? And that's kind of where we go with the gist of things. Here's, here's something we notice, you know, why do we do this, how do we kind of reverse engineer it so?

1:22:17 - Aaron Ahuvia  All right. Well,

1:22:19 - Jeffrey Besecker  Thanks for being a key engineer today.

1:22:19 - Aaron Ahuvia  be back in touch.

1:22:21 - Jeffrey Besecker  Yes, sir, I'll send you a follow up and we'll kind of get abreast of things a little better. When we put this out. We'll send you like an email with twelve points of, you know, share ability, places worth putting, everything else, use it in any, any way that's a value to you. I'd love to be able to connect and if I can share you with any potential guests or hosts, you know, any opportunities to further your marketing, I'd love to be a resource for that.

1:22:51 - Aaron Ahuvia  Sure, Well, yeah, anyone you know who might wanna have beyond that's got a decent lister ship,

1:22:57 - Jeffrey Besecker  awesome. I got, I got a sneaking suspicion I was kind of coy about this when we got into the no I can trust because that hass been one that I've interacted with a number of close individuals, you know, that concept and marketing of how much of that is a genuine connection and where does that disconnect form. And I got a feeling they may want to reach I talk to you from their perspective also. So I'm gonna,

1:23:21 - Aaron Ahuvia  Sure, that would be good,

1:23:22 - Jeffrey Besecker  I'm gonna stimulate that conversation, I think, because I think it's a good one to kind of engage.

1:23:27 - Aaron Ahuvia  thanks.

1:23:29 - Jeffrey Besecker  Awesome, My friend. W Thank you so much. I know you probably have to run. I'll be in contact soon and let's do another conversation soon.

1:23:37 - Aaron Ahuvia  Okay, very good.

1:23:39 - Jeffrey Besecker  Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Have a great day. Bye, bye.


Aaron AhuviaProfile Photo

Aaron Ahuvia

Marketing Professor

Aaron Ahuvia, Ph.D., is a Professor of Marketing and research psychologist who has been ranked 22 in the world for research impact in consumer behavior, and ranked in the top 2% of all scientists in the world across all disciplines by an independent study from Stanford University. Dr. Ahuvia is the world’s leading expert on brand love, i.e. how love works when we love brand, product, or anything else that isn’t a person; and has won numerous awards for this work.

Professor Ahuvia studied philosophy at the University of Michigan before getting a PhD in marketing from the Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management where he worked with the renowned Professor Philip Kotler. From there he became a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business before becoming a Full Professor at the Collage of Business on UM’s Dearborn Campus. He also holds an appointment as a Professor at the University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.