New Neuroscience Tool Accurately Predicts Market Outcomes with Dr. Paul Zak

By DocWire News Editors - Last Updated: April 12, 2023

What if you could predict the type of content that would make someone take action? Or better yet, what will make them take out their credit card and make a purchase?

Well, thanks to our friends at Immersion Neuroscience, this is in the realm of possibility!

Listen in on this interview with Neuroeconomist, Dr. Paul Zak, as he discusses his software that is used to effectively capture neuro activity and provide measurements in real time. Tune in as he describes a few experiences with different clients and his takeaways.

• 2:26 – How the brain evaluates situations
• 3:41 – Why memories trigger emotion
• 4:29 – The importance of personalized brain measurements
• 8:00 – Capturing unconscious emotional responses to make predictions
• 11:48 – Why the brain is lazy
• 14:55 – Measuring immersion for more effective learning
• 25:20 – How Neuro tech is being used in K-12 schools
• 28:25 – The creepiness factor exception
• 34:04 – Where do positive social behaviors come from

• Trust Factor – By: Dr. Paul Zak The science of creating high-performance companies that applies their science to build really effective teams

• The Moral Molecule, The Source Of Love And Prosperity – By: Dr. Paul Zak
The neuroscience behind why people are ever nice to each other

Teaser Clip

9:23- 10:57 – Why the brain is lazy and how ‘challenge stress’ increases productivity

Full Transcription:

Dr. Paul Zak: (00:00)
And, uh, areas that motivate action after experience. And then doing that, we identified this neurologic state we call immersion in which we are attentive to what’s happening around you, but you also emotionally are engaged by us. So you really care about it. And that seems to be a general evaluation mechanism in the brain. We’re always evaluating things. Do I want to talk to you? You’ll want to get us a water or what, you know, what am I doing? So all animals have this and we, what we’ve been able to do is then create software as a service so anybody can measure this anywhere in real time. And that allows us to give people rapid feedback and create great experiences, which we all want.

Derek: (00:38)
Absolutely. So, you know, with scrimmage, we all are about personalized learning, right? Obviously you’re, if you’re reading someone’s individual reaction to an experience, whether it be educational or otherwise, um, you can see the impact. I can see the impact for how that would apply, especially for driving just greater levels of activation, engagement, continuous development, and really building curriculum in such a way that gets the desire goal either for that person or whatever the objection they’re trying to meet. It is. Right? So tell us more about the technology itself and there’s a, how you are measuring people’s emotive response or their level of engagement with content that is being produced. That piece specifically,

Dr. Paul Zak: (01:16)
right? So, uh, let me go back on the neuroscience. So when you, um, have an experienced as fabulous for you that uh, experience is tagged in your memory with emotions. So this is why it’s easier to remember, you know, major experiences of their life, birth of a child, a 9/11, you know, things that are really upstanding. This happens even at lower levels, not even peak experiences. And so once you take that with emotion, that experience again is kind of like our little, uh, little nudge in your brain. You want to do more of this and you’ll certainly remember it more easily. So that’s kind of the key. So, uh, once we identified the brain processes that create an immersive experience, then we said, but you don’t want a bunch of PhDs in your office every time you want to measure this because otherwise it’s too expensive.

Dr. Paul Zak: (02:04)
It’s too slow. And you’ve met Phd’s, Derek, you know, they talk funny, they smell funny, you don’t want them in your office. That’s the last thing you want, right? So could we actually automate all the signal processing so that we can measure immersion second by second? And that’s what we’ve done with a wearable sensor and a cloud computing. And so it’s really nice to have clients. We have clients in the education and in a training space as well as in movie studios and TV networks. So it really tells us what people like and if we know what they’d like, then we can give them more of that or we can improve that experience. And so I think that stuff you do is just perfectly suited for this because as you said, it’s not an average, it’s you and the individual. Right? Right. So that’s what’s most valuable. Did this information land in your brain? Well so that you can access it later when you need it. If it didn’t, okay, let’s follow up. So again, there’s nothing pejorative about this, right? Sound like you’re a bad person. No, this experience just didn’t work for you. That’s okay. That’s as guy Butell. Okay, let’s, let’s pivot and then Redo it so we can get this info in your head.

Derek: (03:06)
Exactly. I think it goes back to we can create a better experience for different, you know, we’re gonna be the same. I’ve got some of the things that we talk about a lot. Is it education? The model of how we’ve all learned for a hundred plus years has been exactly the same now using technology, mobility, mobile devices, and then these sensors like you’re talking about, and the ability to analyze data, massive amounts of data, frankly and real time, allows us to create a much more meaningful experience to that individual user. Dialing on the things that they need to learn, things that they want to learn and also adhering to, you know, what’s going to take them off the rims. Right. And making sure that we’re optimizing for that. You’re getting, you know, emotional awareness, physical, uh, just investments, so to speak in the experience that you’re providing to them. And we can continue to adjust that in real time. So I think it’s super cool. I mean, I mean I’m kind of a nerd about this as you can tell. Yeah.

Todd Staples: (03:53)
I know the energy in here for this is, is sky high. And for me, because a lot of my background is in website conversion rate optimization, right? Which sounds kinda, I mean it is kind of geeky, but it sounds technical. It’s really about human thought and what motivates people. And one of the biggest problems is when you ask people what they want or what they like, or what they didn’t like it, it’s very subjective. They don’t exactly know and they might not know how to explain it. And you are

Todd Staples: (04:25)
interpreting it a certain way. You’re sensors in immersion. Neuro is like a shortcut to the ED skips out all the question variable as you know for, right.

Dr. Paul Zak: (04:37)
Yeah. So go ahead. And also yes, people about liking. What’s your anchor too, right? Liking compared to my dog, my kids, my car. I mean I just don’t know. Right. So if you’re hungry, you’re tired. Yeah. So I think we all have this kind of throaty and hangover in which we think if I just ask the right questions about your mom or your dreams, I can undercover your unconscious emotional responses, uh uh, the brain doesn’t work that way. It’s like asking your liver how it processes your lunch. Right? So we’ve got to have a measurement technology to see how the brain is really responding. We cannot rely on self report as you know, it just not accurate.

Derek: (05:13)
Yeah. So to that point, what’s surprises if you’ve kind of found in terms of someone what someone’s reporting right or their experience to be versus what the, you know, the sensors are showing relative to the things that you’re measuring. And actually you could talk about it more about what specifically the sensors are measuring and how that’s being married up with that experiential data. That would probably be really helpful for the audience to understand.

Dr. Paul Zak: (05:35)
So a couple of things. When we, we, for years and years, I’ve asked people, do you like this movie trailer education experience for the member? And you know, the accuracy of predicting that and things I recall two weeks later or a, you know, buying a ticket for the movie or donating to charity is around 15 to 20% accurate where Immersion predicts that the 80% plus accuracy range. So if I’m able to capture that unconscious emotional response, I would be much more accurate understanding what really turns people on roughly. Right? So, so what do we measure in relation to things? And so, um, there’s a lot of ways to measure brain activity and we have measured all of them because we have a lot of development money from the u s military, the u s [inaudible]. So most brain signals are very fleeting because again, your brain is just doing so many things to keep you alive.

Dr. Paul Zak: (06:23)
Uh, so we’ve got to find signals that consistently predict and those two things or things like, again, recall the information, social shares, uh, sales bumps, center advertising. Um, one is attention and the other is the, um, how much this, this emotionally resonates with you. This experience that’s driven by the brace, production of oxytocin. As you guys know, my lab was the first to show had behavioral effects than humans, you know, and so it’s this, um, uh, kind of emerging is that is a combination of those that again, as kind of an internal evaluation mechanisms like this is awesome, right? And even if you ask people, again, we know in the extremes if you ask people, but second by second, how great is this experience? You don’t have that level of insight into your brain, but this, you know, the technology does it. So, um, yeah, I had to do it with a wearable sensor where anybody can get this information themselves is amazing.

Dr. Paul Zak: (07:15)
And when you ask people and you show me a day that, and you say, Gosh, she really likes this, uh, this TV show. Or recently I was, uh, doing something with house hunting. Um, long story. But anyway, we had a woman who just was over the moon immersed in the house and her husband was like, eh. And I said, you know, you guys looked at a lot of houses, I got all your version data. Um, that first house, she saw something really incredible happen there. I do. Can you tell me what it is? And she said, yeah, she start crying. And she said, that House reminds me of the House I lived in as a child. Wow. And My mother died two weeks ago and now my father is selling the house. And then the most beautiful thing happened, which was her husband goes, oh honey, if that house is so important to you, we can buy that house, oh, what a nice man.

Dr. Paul Zak: (08:02)
But that conversation wouldn’t have happened because we suppress all that. Right? We don’t want to cry in front of strangers. Right. But when I come in and say, look, I know something incredible happend, I don’t know what it was, but I know your brain was really excited about. Then you dig in. Then you could kind of get some of that out. So she was aware of what was happening in this case. But I think you need that little prompt. And I would say, you know, people lie because they want to make you happy or they don’t know. Uh, but the brain doesn’t lie so, so I think it’s a combination of what you guys do, which is great content creation and then getting feedback to that individual at how to curate that content for maximum impact.

Derek: (08:41)
So to that, that’s a great transition. That was my next question. So you had, you had any data yet specific to showing speed of being able to learn or retain information? Right. So back to the idea that we’d go to school for 18 years, right? Or even longer than that, if you’re going and getting advanced education, right. But even just as children, 18, you know, going to school that long. Could you imagine a scenario where if you’re creating content and creating an experience specific to that user’s needs and their style and what’s engaging them and what’s tying in that emotionality that you could reduce that, that time to master your time to proficiency down in a different world? Like a change? The how we educate literally. I mean, can you see that as a scenario with the data you might have so far?

Dr. Paul Zak: (09:23)
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, certainly our clients are, are optimizing those, uh, education and training experiences. So, uh, I can give you a short two minutes on the, on this neurosites of that, which I think is interesting. One is that, this is really sad, but your brain is super lazy. Full-Stop takes about 20% of your calories to run your brain much more than any other organ. So how does the brain manage that high overload? It wants to cruise. So learning is going to be hard because it takes some metabolic energy that your brain has evolved to say. So the first thing is you’ve got to get me into this thing, right? You’ve got to start hot and just gotta be interesting enough for my brain to really turn on. And the second thing is stress is not bad full-stop. So chronic stress is bad where you can’t sleep at night and you’re, you know, eating too much, your blood pressure’s up.

Dr. Paul Zak: (10:14)
But challenge stress is very productive to increase performance. So when you challenge someone, you get out of that lazy brain mode and you incentivize them to really capture this material. Again, as you guys know, it’s short for microlearning. Hit me hard, hit me fast. And then lastly, let me consolidate information. And that happens particularly in humans during sleep. Yeah. So hard and tense. Think about it now. Practice, do it again. Hard in practice, recover, sleep. So it’s really this tight feedback loop, but I get at how people do that is highly variable or how you do an optical is quite variable across individuals.

Todd Staples: (10:57)
I need one of these that I think is fascinating is like I know like I liked the intense work or learning streaks. I got love that intensity. But I know for myself I hit about 90 to a hundred minutes. I have to take a little break. It’s just how i’m wired I can do that for 16 hours straight with those breaks. But I can’t, like I’m, my sponge is full. Yeah. At that point. So when people are learning and they’re doing onboarding or training, have you done measurements where you see that drop off? So you know, like whether it’s a lesson plan in school or it’s a training, you know, okay, we need to stop here because it’s, it’s not getting in, you know.

Dr. Paul Zak: (11:40)
Yes. A great question. I think there’s two answers to that what it says, it’s quite variable and it depends on the, the type of delivery. So, uh, in, in, you know, I saw my academic lab and they’ll have graduate students. So use this, uh, approach. Uh, that’s common in medicine, which is see one, do one, teach one. Yes. Right? So you have to practice this thing that you’re trying to learn. You can’t just read it and then magically, you know how everything works. You’ve actually got to do it. So I think that the way you deliver the content affects how, um, well that gets into your brain and sticks in your brain. So it’s not just sitting there for 90 minutes absorbing it’s smaller chunks. Now practice it, come back, review, get feedback. And so for our technology, uh, it gives you immediate feedback and we could see when people trail off.

Dr. Paul Zak: (12:30)
So we’re see as is as much shorter and learning sections. So in the K to 12 space, uh, we have teachers who will just monitor the kids immersion while they’re doing a task. And we’re finding things like 10 minutes is about the Max before you want to task switch and your 10 minutes you just can’t stay in. That is in this metabolically costly. And then it’s like storytelling. I think of a movie. Think of a long form, long form movie. How can you sit for two hours and watch a movie. Well, because you have multiple storylines, right? So you have a story line that builds tension and then there’s another story that starts with lower tension, right? I get a little breather that has some comic relief, right? Oh fun. Something’s funny now if you’ll look the tension of another storyline. So I think as we learned more about how the brain acquires new information effectively, that will see that almost as storytelling approach, which is here’s a storyline, let’s get too into it. That runs for five minutes, seven minutes, now try doing that thing that take a breather. Now do it again. Feedback, feedback, feedback. So it’s really smaller and smaller chunks that thing.

Derek: (13:34)
Yeah. So a couple of days to come to mind. These are kind of just kind of following the thread here. So one is, uh, you mentioned sleep, um, and that being kind of a, a processing or rest period if you will, when things kind of settle in. Is there any work that reserved, is there a tension and do any work around actually measuring brain activity in that part of the process of the learning process? Like is it possible potentially you could do kind of like being able to do kind of that comparison, the analysis between active learning and the, the retention based learning is happening kind of less active. Right. But like a better term.

Dr. Paul Zak: (14:03)
All right. See our technology is not the best for the app. There’s a big group at Harvard that’s been setting their rules good for solidation, um, uh, because our technology captures the social effects. So I guess someone’s gotta be leading that’s gotta have some kind of content if it’s just kind of flat asleep. Um, but yeah, there’s a big literature on this, on the importance of sleep. And, uh, I used to, I used to be like, I mean like you guys, like we’re all hacking their to do’s and I was like, athletes, optional man, I can go for three days without sleep, but the more I read this, letter, I thought, man, this one really valued. That was really important and valuable. And as you know, if you don’t sleep much higher risks for these like Alzheimer’s disease as you get older. So that way, even though I don’t need to sleep as much as other people, I still try to get six or seven hours just cause I think, you know, all the literature shows that’s really important to you. So I think it’s, again, it’s intense and like working out. Right. So you work out intensely. Yeah. You have a day to recover workout intensely to brace it with the same thing.

Derek: (15:01)
Yeah. I, I just don’t, it’s so cool. Cause I said I’m thinking that, I’m just imagining scenarios where you talked about how your brain is consuming energy. Literally you could imagine marriage of, of your physical body and actually working in the way that you’re looking for those, those cycles for when you’re most able to learn to retain, tie that back to rest period. Tie that into when you think about athletes, right? They know exactly when they’re going to be tapering, adding certain types of fuel into the mix to get that extra extra push. Like, and I think about it in the context of, of learning and creativity performance, not just in physical performance. And then I’m, you know, I’ve been reading lately about this whole concept around flow and flow research and the things around that. And this goes back to the same concept. So I’m just, I’m literally imagining this world where all this data, all these data sets are converging on, you know, the, the, the, the brain waves, the psychometrics, biometrics, all this stuff coming together. And then you overlay that with different forms of content and different time structures and, and, and levels of engagement. There’s, it’s a really powerful picture,

Dr. Paul Zak: (15:59)
yeah. That you’ve kind of optimize that delivery, right? So I think, uh, immersion is, is very close to the neurologic state of flow. So again, flow is that kind of self reported a notion, by the way from my colleague, uh, Mike Chick sent me high at Claremont Graduate University and to Mike, good friend. Uh, so, um, yeah, so I think Immersion has the neurologic correlate of flow release. It’s very close to it. Um, yeah. Where you lose track of time, you’re immersed in that experience and it’s, and it feels great when you get out of it. But again, I think the key here is that it’s gotta be challenging. It’s gotta be, uh, this challenge, stress, this not stressful enough. Your brain would just, you know, idol and that’s, that’s not good. So again, I think what you said about working out as exactly right, and that’s also the reason to do this task. Once you’ve learned it, you create that somatic feedback in the body and brain is, so now I’ve got this great loop going between how it feels to do this new task. I don’t know, learn new macros and excel and doing it and then we would all reinforce itself.

Todd Staples: (17:00)
Got It. So can I go get a, I remember, I think it was on your site Dr. Paul. There’s a formula you have about attention plus emotional resistance. It’s resonance. Can you explain that a little bit? It was interesting.

Dr. Paul Zak: (17:14)
Yeah, that’s how we came up with it. So we basically measured, we did a ton of experiments with blood draws and looked at changes in neurochemicals that, uh, were different in people who responded to an experience in a positive way and people who just said eh, I don’t really care. Uh, so again, we, we always, uh, had people do absolute actions or objectively measurable actions, not just you like it. So we, we’ve established that liking is not the right question. That is totally measured. So again, like, like in the education space, do you remember this content two weeks later? Right? So we can test you on that. That’s objective. And so when people did remember that content? Um, they had this attentional component which comes from your cerebral cortex and this emotional resonance driven by the brain’s production of oxytocin in which now I’m just really into this thing.

Dr. Paul Zak: (18:02)
And what’s interesting as Derek mentioned about oxytocin is, it is relaxing. I’m in this sort of easy flow state where now it just feels good to do this thing, even though again, I’m being challenged. I need that challenge to induce the brain, to burn the energy, to make the oxytocin to get me into this thing. But once I’m in, I’m just going, I’m just moving, it doesn’t take work anymore. And that’s the best kind of learning experience I can imagine where it’s so well designed. I just dig it. Yeah.

Derek: (18:34)
So to that point, you made me think of something else. So, because we’re talking a lot about the emotional engagement of learning here, have you noticed any variability when it comes to IQ? So I’m actually looking at their level of intelligence. Have you noticed any difference in the level of ability to commit to this, so to speak, not commit, but the outcome of the commitment and their ability to either concentrate longer or to get a higher outcome or does it make a difference? That goes back to this emotional versus intellect is there is a kind of flat and you look at it that way. Cause that’s kind of a fascinating potential surprise.

Dr. Paul Zak: (19:03)
I mean that’s a great neuroscience question. We have not seen any impact of IQ within the normal healthy adult range. Huh. So it’s not that you have to be super smart to be an effective learner. Obviously if you’re super smart, it’s going to help a little bit. But if, if I can get you to care about the material I’m presenting to you, it’s going to stick in your brain. Isn’t that nice?

Derek: (19:24)
That’s so cool. That’s where I was going to say that. That goes back to why we’re changing how you educate because now you’re making truly knowledge and education accessible to any anybody in the old world. We’re at a very young age. Rank according to IQ is a starting point. Then every year given assessments and exams on content that probably half the class as, I can speak for myself in school, I didn’t find half the stuff I learned interesting at all. I was off day dreaming out here. Right. And then when I found something I was into was like full commitment. Right? And so I can, I can imagine that world where if you’re actually putting producing experiences for kids and adults that are really getting their full attention, like every aspect that you’ve created, the retention, the intellectual capabilities would be incredible for anyone. And that changes the whole system.

Dr. Paul Zak: (20:08)
Oh, it is. I think you guys, I’d be, I’d love your technology because you’re blowing up the standard system. You’re optimizing to those individuals. That’s what we got to do this sort of industrial scale educational opportunities. It works for the average kid that doesn’t work well outside those averages. So why don’t we actually optimize for you? Would that be awesome?

Todd Staples: (20:28)
Yeah. Well I mean imagine the frustration that certain people have in certain learning environments. They try to learn something and it’s just not taught in their style and they feel dumb. Like I can’t learn this. Right. But it might be that they’re, they’re very visual and i’m kind of snickering to myself because when my wife and I at at home, at TV, we always have to have subtitles. Yeah. Cause she has to read something to learn. She literally can’t even absorb a tv or a movie without the text. And it’s just like, if an element is missing that you need to learn, you might just think I’m, well, I’ll throw in the towel. I can’t learn i’m, I’m stupid. Yeah. But it’s the delivery.

Derek: (21:07)
That raised two more questions for me. Go ahead Paul.

Dr. Paul Zak: (21:10)
Yeah, no, go ahead. I love that example. You’re going Derek.

Derek: (21:12)
So, so one was, um, on those same lines with people with ADHD for example, have you noticed anything in that population in terms of being able to get them focused because they’re so emotionally engaged and experience or how you could change the content or the experience tied to that information? Is there any there any research on that yet?

Dr. Paul Zak: (21:29)
Oh, not from our group. I mean I think it’s very testable and I have a ADD daughter, so, uh, I’m certainly aware of it, but I think again, for them it would be measuring and then tweaking. And that’s what is nice about online education, right? Is I can measure and then I can tweak and, and you know, we’ll start with what works for the average person and then figure out what’s better for you. And as we’ve talked about, you know, interrupt that process. If you’re getting frustrated neurologically, okay, let’s pivot. I think this has no, um, I, would say like data is not good or bad. It’s, it’s just there that to help give you insights that you wouldn’t normally have. So, um, no one can feel bad about this. It, you know, if you’re the add child or adult for that matter, and this information is not getting your brain, all right, let’s do a pivot and try doing it a different way. Let’s try doing smaller chunks. Let’s try doing it in a more somatic way. Have you do physical stuff first and then learned the theory. And I can think of 10 different ways to structure this that my daughter, ADD daughter never got. Cause you know, she’s in the public schools and they, here’s your stuff.

Derek: (22:33)
Yeah. And I think there’s like, I think, I don’t know the exact number, I think it’s 23 or 24 different mechanisms, if you will, that you could be used to instruct or to learn. Right? And so you could imagine being able to benchmark or compare each of those. Right. So I mean, it’s pretty fascinating.

Dr. Paul Zak: (22:47)
I love that. Yeah. And it’s all about, it’s just getting, getting better for you. Right. Isn’t that what we want. And I think when, so our technology is now is in k to 12 schools and you know, we’ve seen teachers by the way, in low income school districts where the kids are kind of struggling anyway. Or to some of the kids where they’ll just watch the immersion and they’ll say, okay, this, this little class activity was scheduled for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, the kids are checked out. Great. Let’s pivot. It doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that the kids are bad and doesn’t mean the activity was poorly designed, but it just means we’ve gotten as much value out of this as possible. Okay, great. Pivot. Let’s do some stretching. Okay, move around. Alright, kids now sit down, we’re going to talk for 10 minutes and then you going to do something else.

Dr. Paul Zak: (23:29)
So that’s just getting better. I want to be part of that problem or as you know, to provide solutions to that problem. Uh, because my kids suffered, I suffered, you guys all suffered with this sort of industrial level average education. And Yeah, if you’re a bright kid and you’ve got some motivation, you’ll figure out ways to do it right. And you know, and not, and getting immediate feedback. So all from a, from a learning neuroscience perspective, you’ve got feedback right away, hey, this material landed in my brain well, or do I need to follow up and do it. So we’ve created now is as you know, a leaderboard. So that teacher sees as soon as the class is over, hey, these four kids didn’t work so well for whatever reason. So cool. Yeah. And so send them a link to Khan Academy, send them a link to scrimmage. So whatever it is, send me more info. Now. Don’t wait three weeks to say, Oh, you failed the test.

Derek: (24:15)
Realtime adjustments. That’s really fascinating. Yeah.

Todd Staples: (24:23)
So we gave Paul and the intro to the show, we give an overview of, of, of what you do and the, the tech behind it, but maybe you can tell some, uh, little snippets of some recent examples. And then I’d also love to hear at some point, like, it’s a little creepy. I got to say it. Like when you start thinking of how much you can learn about people, like you really tapped right in. So my mind has gotten into like, you know, I keep thinking of that old movie lawnmower man, right, where you’re just like this flood of information and you know how to get the right message into a person at the right time. You have a lot of powers of persuasion and influence and maybe manipulation once you understand this stuff. So I’d be interested to hear like how wild can this technology yet.

Dr. Paul Zak: (25:08)
Yeah, well we did worry about the kind of, if the creepiness factor where you first started doing this, and we’ve actually never found it with one exception. So we are all interested in ourselves and our own brains. So if I get to see my own brain activity, there’s something deeply interesting and egotistically interesting about that. Um, so yeah, we, when we go to, you know, live events with hundreds of people, we put sensors on them like, Hey, we just want to measure your brain activity and say you’re responding to this experience. So I cool. Sure. Yeah. So again, uh, depending on the client that’s using our platform, we generally are not collecting personally identifiable identifiable information. We may shoot that to your phone so you can see what your brain’s doing. But again, we’re not building some kind of giant database of, uh, you know, here’s the stuff you really like or don’t like.

Dr. Paul Zak: (26:00)
Um, so the one exception by the way was, uh, uh, every year I, uh, teach, uh, police leaders about organizational behavior and neuroscience, and I kind of got sucked into it. Some colleagues do it and uh, cops are fun to work with because first of all, they’re kind of out there kind of paranoid, interesting folks. Uh, but also they are not, you know, police chiefs, assistant chiefs, there’s not a standard training protocol for them. So they have all different backgrounds and they have real problems. I like solving problems. So I like, you know, their biggest problem is that they’re running from emergency to emergency. They don’t have time for strategic planning and thinking of anyway. So, uh, I was doing, uh, so there’s a recruiting problem for police departments now, so I know that. So I brought one of our systems to this a hour, eight hour course I do every year and I had all these guys and I’ve already spent, you know, six hours with all these, you know, captains and, and uh, assistant chiefs and chiefs. Cause I look, we’re going to check some out some of your, some of your recruiting videos and try to improve them because I know you guys have, are having trouble recruiting and so let’s just do it. I’ll hook you guys up and we’ll watch them. It will diagnose what’s working, what’s not working, using a immersion. And a couple of these cops are like, oh, you don’t put nothing on me. I’m like, dude, are you paranoid? They’re like, oh yeah.

Dr. Paul Zak: (27:20)
Okay, so let’s take the cops out of it. Maybe they’re not the right, but even that was, you know, two guys out of 30. Um, so I think it’s always opt in. If this is a technology that you feel comfortable with, that will help you improve your ability to obtain new information and be able to use that information. Awesome. We never want to coerce people to use this. I think it’s always gotta be an opt in issue, but there’s like quantified self, sorry, it’s very much in the quantified self world. So yes. The thing is that we’re all out there everywhere, you know, with these, uh, you know, once you got a phone at, you know, they’ll take video. Everything is public anyway, so you really care. You know, if your data gets mixed in with thousands and thousands of other people data in our system, we don’t care. I can’t find your data. I don’t know where it is.

Derek: (28:09)
Yeah. That’s interesting. So to that same point, I mean, do you see this eventually as kind of a mass adopt mass market adoption like that where everyone is using this type of capability all the time in outside of the educational structure or, would you dial it specifically to certain experiences like entertainment venues or school or whatever? Like how do you kind of imagine if this was just to go gangbusters beyond your wildest dream, where would you see it going? Like in your big patient,

Dr. Paul Zak: (28:36)
what a cool question. Yeah. I mean, we’re pretty much B2B now. So most of the entertainment training, education, uh, and we just launched our employee performance, uh, application so we can actually catalog what really turns you on at work and what frustrates you that can have that talk with my supervisor instead of saying, um, uh, you know, Derek says to me. Hey Paul, we’re short a guy in accounting we gotta have you do more accounting. I’m like, all right, dude, whatever. Maybe I, maybe I love accounting. I mean maybe like, yeah, give me more or I didn’t even know it. Um, anyway, in the, in the bio, uh, blue yonder, we have thought about VTC applications. So again, I have teenage daughters. Uh, so I’m worried about dating. So we’ve actually used this a couple of times

Derek: (29:15)
Based on screening. It’s a screening tool.

Dr. Paul Zak: (29:17)
screening tool? Are you guys compatible? So a once for the today show we did at once for the bachelor on ABC couple of years ago. So the first thing is, are you guys experiencing wherever you are or you experienced it in the same way. If your data are negatively correlated, which we see a lot that’s going to generate conflict, right? So let’s look at how people can interact with each other and then train them. And the other thing is that because of having the smokes all engagement, we are now doing some tests in, uh, in, uh, delivery with healthcare, uh, in different domains. So as you know, I think the healthcare system is broken in many ways, uh, but a lot of that is a the care is missing from healthcare. And so this technology can help clinicians who are busy, who are stressed and often it is for doctors.

Dr. Paul Zak: (30:04)
There’s so technically trained, there’s sometimes they lose that personal touch. And you guys know from education that personal touch is so important. So why don’t we use this to train clinicians to be better connectors with their patients to be more empathic and to be more effective. There’s lots of outcomes that are showing you if you trust your caregiver, if you think he or she cares about your outcome, yeah, you, you’re much more compliant, you’re not going to best back in the emergency department. You’re going to follow orders and get well faster. Gosh, that’s a world I want to live in, right. Just let’s just improve experiences across the board so you can’t improve unless you can measure.

Derek: (30:41)
I totally agree. That’s so cool. So question back to very beginning, I mean obviously you’ve had a very interesting career and you’re doing great work for you personally. How did you start down this journey? Like how, where did it begin for you where you’re like, I think this is where I’m going to go. Right? You said kind of bad ass backwards, but like where was the starting point that led down that backwards journey? Oh Gosh. What catalyzed it. Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Paul Zak: (30:51)
How much time do you have a, I’ve written a couple books on this. Um,

Derek: (31:11)
What, tell us about those books and where that people can find them.

Oh sure. A nice book is called trust factor, the science of creating high-performance companies that applies their science to build really effective teams. And my first book is called the moral molecule, the source of love and prosperity. And that’s essentially about the neuroscience of why people are ever nice to each other. So, um, I’m sort of a Martian, Derek, I, I don’t really understand the humans so I run experiments to try to figure out what they’re doing and drugs series.

Dr. Paul Zak: (31:39)
We get all their data for her exam. And I’m particularly interested in positive social behaviors. Why do we donate to charity? Why are we nice to strangers when no one’s looking or someone’s looking or I can get them, you know, credibility, bonus points from it. Yeah, I understand that. But we weren’t experiments where all the time and we torture people already taking, we do get a pretty invasive stuff and yet people will still donate half their earnings to charity or that, that’s weird to me. So, um, I think my overall focus is if I understand where the good behaviors come from, the bad behaviors are easy to study by the way. Yes, easy to stress people out. That’s true. But the good behavior is actually hard to study in and neurologically we’re really hard to kind of capture the effects before we knew about oxytocin. So I just like to live in a world that people are happier, they are kinder to each other and they’re more effective in their jobs. And, um, you know, I’m an optimist, so I just think, you know, I want to build technologies to help people improve their lives and, um, you know, get a little nicer, a little kinder, little more effective. That sounds like a win for the planet, a win for individuals. Anyway, that’s my big, big picture view. No more crappy experiences wherever we are.

Derek: (32:50)
I think that’s a perfect way to actually just kinda wrap it up. I think that’s a well summarized, an admirable life goal, and I commend you for the work that you’re doing and bringing that to reality. Um, and I just think, again, just this conversation has been fascinating. I can’t wait to work with you on, on bringing it to more companies and, um, just more people in general. So thank you for your time and your wisdom and all the work that you’ve done in today to get it to here and excited to see where it continues to grow.

Dr. Paul Zak: (33:18)
Thank you so much and what a pleasure to be on with you. I’m such big fans, of you guys, so, uh, you’re doing amazing work, so it’s just great to be hanging out with you.

Derek: (33:26)
Awesome. Thanks, Dr. Paul.

Todd Staples: (33:27)
Thanks, Dr. Paul.

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April 19, 2024