How great are you at sensing danger?

With 44% of Britons admitting to being influenced to buy something, clearly people love to shop online. While this seems innocent enough, being influenced to buy something online is technically a threat to our resources- aka money. So how well has our danger radar really evolved?

Welcome to the most riveting day in the life you are ever going to read. I’m sure you are all very excited to hear about what I get up to. To begin, I wake up in my warm bed and have to take a minute to find my bearings. After this moment of fuzziness disappears, I can’t resist a scroll on my phone. Don’t act like this isn’t what you do. 

I then start to crave a cup of tea, which forces me to actually get up. The rest of my day is usually spent doing work, until I clock off for the day in the evening. By this stage I’m usually ravenous so get to cooking something sophisticated like instant noodles, which is followed by a Netflix binge and bed.  

Living the high life I know. 

I can’t say this routine is riddled with danger. Of course, life loves to throw a spanner in the works, reminding us of the unpredictability of it, but I don’t spend my days feeling on edge. 

Living in England does eliminate some immediate threats to life. Realistically what is the worst that can happen? I guess you could get caught in a spot of rain.

Though I am thankful for this perk of modern life, I expect my danger radar is probably not as finetuned as one of my distant ancestors

I spoke to David Lundberg-Kenrick, author of the book Solving Modern Problems with a Stone-Age Brain: Human Evolution and the Seven Fundamental Motives’ who says: “Our brains are set up in a way where we are predisposed to looking at immediate danger which has given our ancestors big benefits throughout history

“This is because you don’t want to miss out on an immediate threat, for example a tiger or another human that is coming to murder you

“However, we also see opportunities that have quick and immediate benefits to our lives. For example, a food source or a mating opportunity.” 

Well thank you brain for looking after me, you are much appreciated. Though I don’t necessarily need to register a food source when Tesco’s is down the road. So how does this help me in a modern world? 

Mr Lundberg-Kenrick added: “We are really attentive to these things however we are not designed to be as good as attending to the modern things that make that so difficult 

“From my own life, if I see a big in my house I immediately think ‘oh my god there’s a bug it’s invading my territory get it out’ and that’s probably because it could carry diseases or it could steal my food

“However, if I see an advert for another jacket however, even though I already have lots of jackets and I live in the desert, I don’t think ‘wow that ad is going to take my money’, despite the fact that I have lost more resources buying the jacket.”

From the many years on the internet I would be lying if I said I haven’t been influenced to buy something. I’m not the only one who has fallen trap to a social media post, with 44% of the UK admitting to an influenced purchase, according to Statista

While advertisements are nothing new, the uprising of social media has transformed marketing to a whole new level.  With virtually everyone being on the internet, a 2023 State of Social Media Survey says90% of leaders agree their company’s success will depend on how effectively it can use social media data’, showing the importance of the digital realm in product sales. 

Dr Lundberg-Kenrick added: “Our perceptions of fear haven’t changed; we still have that instinctual fight or flight response. We just have to be extra conscious of the new threats and opportunities that we are not going to notice as instinctually

“A lot of the things that are actually costly to us these days either go unnoticed and don’t trigger our natural fear response

“Especially when you think about advertisements they are attractive to us and we think ‘wow that looks great’” 

Note to future self: avoid the danger of wasting money by questioning if I really need a new item.

Moving forward, I guess we are going to have to start being a bit more vigilant when scrolling. It is just so difficult when you see someone rocking the cutest outfit, to resist the urge of buying it.

Though think of how happy our bank account will be so we can actually buy things we need.

Expert insight: David Lundberg-Kenrick

David Lundberg-Kenrick is currently the creative director of psychology at Arizona State University and author of the book ‘Solving Modern Problems with a Stone-Age Brain: Human Evolution and the Seven Fundamental Motives

Featured image: Adobe stock