What does falling in love and buying have in common?

Personality profiles lead the way when it comes to choosing a life partner but also to how one responds to advertising triggers and decides to buy. Helen Fisher, anthropologist, human behavior researcher, and self-help author, studied extensively the brains of people falling in love for match.com. The results were initially used to better suggest suitable profiles to people looking for a partner. But then Helen extended the outcomes to how these personality profiles can help in advertising, marketing, and sales. 

Helen’s studies basically concluded that four main personality traits influence the behaviors of an individual both when falling in love as well as when buying. These four personality traits are based on the hormone type that is dominant in each individual: dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen. Let’s dig deeper into what each of these personality types means.

Dopamine personality type: explorer (E)

Dopamine is the hormone responsible for seeking results and acting towards them, helping control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. A very high level of dopamine is associated with sensation-seekers and risk-takers.

Individuals with a dopamine personality style are looking for novelty and have a strong desire to explore, both mentally and physically. They are the creators, the explorers, impulsive and spontaneously generous, open-minded, generating lots of ideas, being enthusiastic and optimistic, and mentally flexible.

According to Helen’s study, 38% of the population has a dopamine predominant personality type. Amongst them, some famous people like Richard Branson, Peter Thiel, and Gloria Steinem.

In advertising, your messages should speak novelty, creativity, adventure, excitement, and change, so that is it appealing to explorers. The emphasis should be on autonomy, individuality, and on now. This is the group of people that appreciate the modern, moving, fast-changing, and diverse locations and people. They turn off when there are too many details or the mandatory calls of “should and ought.”

One type of ad that speaks to the explorers is the Loius Vitton cruise campaign:

In terms of matching personality, dopamine types will be attracted by the same kind of people.

Serotonin personality type: builder (B)

Serotonin is the hormone responsible for our mood stability, the same way people with a serotonin personality type are considered the pillars of society. They are conventional, enjoy familiarity, they’re cautious and calm, structured, and fact-oriented. Serotonin type owns a so-called “logistical intelligence,” meaning they’re creative when it comes to numbers and figures. They respect authority, have mostly close friends, and are deeply loyal.

19% of the population has a serotonin personality type, like Hu Jintao, Mike Pence, and Queen Elizabeth II.

For the builder type, your message needs to show order and facts and even symbols of tradition. It’s great to use conservative colors, graphs, details, and repetitive patterns. Speak about safety, values, memories, duties, the familiar, community, and preparation for tomorrow. Be calm and self-controlled while avoiding drama, speculation, and exaggeration.

Moët & Chandon ad below speaks perfectly to the builder personality:

Serotonin personality types will be attracted to the same kind of personality.

Testosterone personality type: director (D)

Testosterone is predominantly a male hormone responsible for driving a male’s sexuality. Regardless of sex, though, the testosterone personality, according to Helen Fisher’s classification, is a type that needs to shoot for the stars.

This personality understands rule-based systems (like math, engineering, music), and have strong analytical and spatial skills, and strategic intelligence. They’re inventive, like to experiment, thrive on achievements, and dominant matching. Testosterone personality likes competition and ranks, and despite being flooded with emotions, they tend to be very emotionally contained.

13% of the population is testosterone-driven, and well-known examples are Steve Jobs, Margaret Thatcher, and Hillary Clinton.

To appeal to the testosterone personality type, you need to talk about rank, power, ambition, success, speed, efficiency, innovation, and technical features. You need to be direct and unemotional. Use geometric shapes, arrows, logical flow, be concise, and speak about tomorrow. Offer prestigious prices, gadgets, and technical information and services. Make sure to totally avoid ambiguity, lack of logic, self-depreciation, or redundancy.

I wanted to bring an ad example that is targeted to directors, yet it is not a men products or of tech nature, but it’s a perfume ad from Kenzo, totally daring and futuristic:

Being a dominant type of personality, testosterones are attracted to their opposite personality type, estrogen.

Estrogen personality type: negotiator (N)

Estrogen is a group of hormones responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics, with a more critical role in women. They’re big picture thinkers, contextual and long-term. They have the mental flexibility to tolerate ambiguity, they’re excellent at social skills, from posture to language and voice, and intuitive. Emphatic and trusting, they seek meaning and harmony.

Estrogen personality is typical in philosophers and thinkers, as they own diplomatic intelligence and are very emotionally expressive.

30% of the population is estrogen type in personality, with some famous examples being Oprah Winfrey, Barak Obama, Bill Clinton (yes, yes!), and Charles Darwin.

To appeal to negotiators, your message should be authentic and friendly, showing the big picture and long-term vision. It should be about people, harmony, diversity, charity, and trust. Use round shapes, animals, nature, health, exercise, and focus on tomorrow. Avoid confrontation, aloofness, short-term thinking, and the lack of emotions.

Westpac’s commercial below speaks perfectly to negotiators:

They are attracted to the testosterone personality type.

Selling to the four personality types can be resumed like this:

E: explorer,
dopamine-type
B: builder,
serotonin-type
D: director,
testosterone-type
N: negotiator,
estrogen-type
Exciting, adventurous Many details Direct, brief Compassionate
Daring, risking Charts, graphs Unemotional Ethnic diversity
Creative art Conservative colours, traditional Logical Imaginative
Fewer details Safe, low risk Technical Contextual
Now Yesterday Tomorrow Long term

To end, and if you want to find out more about the study, personality types, and falling in love, I highly recommend Helen Fisher’s book, “The Anatomy of Love.”