By | David Klaasen | Helping You Create Clarity, Inspire Your People & Drive Performance | Retain your best people | Changing Management Mindsets and Behaviour | Practical Behaviour Analytics
It was fascinating to observe the way the debates in the EU referendum unfolded and how people were making decisions about which way to vote. In the end it was almost impossible to differentiate fact from fiction on both sides. Sadly (in my opinion) that meant that many people voted purely on emotion and not just any emotion, but deep feelings that had been triggered by primary threats to survival.
An easy way to remember the five Primary Threats that trigger a ‘fight or flight’ reaction is the mnemonic SCARF. This stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. When any of these get triggered our Limbic system gets activated and we get a surge of neurochemicals that some scientists say reduce our intelligence due to the way they make us narrow our attention onto specific details, neglect the bigger picture and become overwhelmed with feelings that often go back to our early childhood. When we are triggered by two or more of the Primary Threats you could call it being ‘SCARFed’!
From the way the referendum went, it was clear to see that large sections of society in the UK were led to believe that their status and autonomy is being diminished by the European Union, that building welcoming relationships with foreigners is dangerous because they’ll take our jobs and that experts were being terribly unfair when they raised alarms about the UK going out on its own. I was concerned that this potent cocktail of primary threats was being whipped up to such a degree that people would be willing to sacrifice certainty and throw it out the window, but I was still shocked when they actually did it.