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Faculty & Research


Reconsidering the Path for Neural and Physiological Methods in Consumer Psychology

Journal Article
Recent decades have witnessed a burst of neuroscience research investigating mental and physiological processes central to consumer behavior, including sensory perception, memory, and decision-making. Nonetheless, few publications that include neural and physiological measures, or develop conceptual frameworks around neuroscience principles, have been published in consumer psychology. It is clear that “consumer neuroscience” has thus far not lived up to its promises in the marketing literature. The authors suggest three main reasons for this. First, neural and other biological markers are often mistaken to be identical to the overlaying psychological constructs in traditional consumer psychology work. Second, somewhat surprisingly, there has been an overly narrow utilization of neural data. Most previous work focused on linking existing behavioral phenomena or psychological constructs central to consumer research to neural correlates using brain imaging techniques while ignoring other methods. The authors argue that much can be gained from improved integration of physiological measures and through them, different levels of analysis. Third, there remain significant structural hurdles to the broad adoption of neural and physiological measures for consumer researchers. The authors outline how addressing these three components can translate to a more holistic understanding of the consumer via both broader and deeper consumer insights.

Associate Professor of Marketing