How the Psychology of Connection Explains the Value of Hospitality
Enough about our long-lost love of sports and entertainment. It is not gone forever, just taking a nap while the world pushes forward, head down slugging through a global pandemic known as the Coronavrus or COVID-19.
However, because most of the world is practicing social distancing and properly quarantining themselves — we as people are starving for human connection. Want proof? Blink twice if you’ve been on a Zoom call over the last three weeks. And don’t even hold your breath if you have had a virtual happy hour.
And what comes with the absence of connection? Pain. Social pain. Pain that manifests itself in our minds and in our hearts.
The psychology of connection is a field studied ad nauseum by Corporate America, and the insights gleaned provide a clear picture into how our brain works when experiencing a deep connection.
Research has shown that when you meet someone, your brain, specifically the medial prefrontal cortex, lights up. The prefrontal cortex is part of the frontal lobe and is commonly generalized as the space that assists with “executive functioning” — determining good vs bad, same vs different, expectations based on actions, and social control.
But when you really connect with someone, your brain reacts differently, and the intersection of the temporal lobe (memory, comprehension, and emotion) and the parietal lobe (sensory information including touch and vision) illuminates in a pattern revealing a complex and somewhat inexplicable cognitive process.
You’ve felt it before. We are literally wired to connect! That is why sports and entertainment matter — they bring people together no matter if that is in a stadium, concert venue, or a conversation. Shared or even contrarian views around an artist, team, or athlete enable us to look someone in the eyes and foster of an understanding of each other, which in turn leads to connection.
There is a self-serving cognitive theory called Basking in Reflected Glory, or BIRG, in which consumers quite literally associate themselves with the known success of others. Sports and entertainment are unique in their ability to cultivate that at scale. Additionally, BIRG’ing has a close tie to social identity theory in that it helps explain how self-esteem can be enhanced simply by observing the success of others. And what proves success more than a scoreboard or a sold-out venue?
When you share an experience, a moment, or in this case, an event that organically develops a sense of BIRG and lifts all parties’ evaluations of self, you are connected. This sense of connection can be captured, bottled, and served up into the world of corporate hospitality. When done effectively, one could argue it has more potential to drive business-related returns than any other conduit for connection. The sheer power of sports and entertainment to harness emotional investment amongst consumers is simply unrivaled. It takes elbow grease and strategy to convert that power into revenue, but hey, that is what we are here for.
As far as Best.Day.Ever. is concerned…