Fingernails on a Chalkboard

Yes, the great sound of fingernails on a chalkboard

Yes, can you hear that sound? Imagine fingernails going accross a chalkboard…

No, I’m not trying to torture you, but even just imaging this sound will cause most people to squirm.

Why is that?

I thought about this last night, can I tap into the same visceral feeling that this sound makes when connecting with my target market? Only not in a negative way but a positive way?

So I began my research:

http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2009/02/19/nails-on-chalkboard-explained-kind-of/

In this study they found that the middle frequency of sound produced this result, although they still did not know why. But they did speculate:

They ventured that perhaps the sound bears a resemblance to a former predator in mankind’s remote past, one that we’ve forgotten on a conscious level but not innately. They pointed to the fact that the sound is similar to the warning call of a macaque monkey. Ultimately, we still don’t know why the sound has the effect it does.

Now I like this guys take on why:

The answer came to me like a blinding flash. I was eating something at a picnic and I dropped it on the ground. I wiped it off and continued eating. (Oh, you do *SO* do it too!)

As I was chewing, suddenly I heard SKKKKEEEEEERRRCH!!!!! …as I bit down hard on a tiny stone. I think every single hair on my body stood on end, and my jaws froze instantly.

THAT’S IT! Fingernails-on-blackboard: it sounds exactly like the destruction of tooth enamel. We’re instinctively programmed to respond instantly. Of course! It’s so sensible and obvious. Every little kid knows it. I remember many incidents from my own childhood. Why didn’t we adults ever realize? The scraping of fingers on a blackboard is the classic, high-frequency violin-like waveform of hard dry surfaces moving with chaotic stick/slip motion. And that could very well be why our instincts are programmed to repond to it so strongly.

It’s the sound of body damage; but it’s a particular type of body damage for which there is no pain …yet no healing.

I like the second one.

A few questions I wanted to ask…

  • How can you tap into these types of feelings to connect with people? For instance, let’s say you are a stylist or a consultant for men who need help with style. What type of ancient emotions can you design into your sales copy that will not make us cringe but make us want to buy?
  • Since I agree with the teeth hypothesis how can you use the ‘no healing’ instinct to connect with people in your target market?

Yes, I know kind of out there but I like to stretch my mind at times.