About this Research Topic
We are all consumers and that is why our behavior has been and will certainly remain a hot marketing topic in the future. Since self-report methods (i.e. questionnaires, emotion analysis using self-assessment manikins, focus groups) suffer from well-known limitations, the growing interest in developing approaches that enable to probe consumers’ underlying feelings, purchase intentions and choices, has spawned the subfield of neuromarketing.
For example, while paging through a menu, we are unable to remember the detailed sequence of our gaze trajectory. It has been suggested that uncertainty can prolong visual behavior (in other words, indecision will take time), but this requires a reevaluation of the gaze cascade hypothesis (the longer subjects look at an item, the more likely they are to develop a preference for it). Experimental paradigms incorporating eye-tracking devices are suitable to establish the amount of time that is actually spent gazing at a stimulus and examine role of gaze duration in evaluative tasks.
In addition, when choosing between two dining options, we may not even take into account to what extend the mouth-watering photographs of served items, restaurant’s interior design, or intriguing smell of freshly roasted coffee beans affect our attitude toward the place and purchase intention. It has been reported that physical characteristics may contribute to certain emotional reactions, affecting the way we behave. For example, adding novelty cues (e.g. word “NEW”) to an advertisement, happens to change not only consumers’ visual behavior but also psychophysiological responses of interest (e.g. heart rate). Thus, in regard to physiological responses, cardiac activity can be an effective real-time measure of cognitive effort, arousal and attention.
In consumer research, electrical brain activity data can be effectively used in discriminating the importance of different features during product evaluation tasks (preferences for particular flavor, shape and olfactory properties). While choosing between alternatives, significant differences in neural activity can be observed in orbitofrontal regions (with greater activity for bought items). In this context, it is worthwhile to demonstrate whether other measurements can successfully decode the buy or reject. Finally, in comparison to measures that rely on self-observations only, physiological and neuroscientific techniques can reveal reactions that - simply speaking - consumers’ try to hide (e.g. eye-tracking research among consumers with compulsive eating disorder).
Paradigms influence what we accept as a truth. With this in mind, our aim is to gather multi-disciplinary contributions of cutting-edge experimental paradigms using neural and physiological methodologies, in order to identify preferences and predict choices more precisely in both, controlled-laboratory and external settings (i.e. shopping malls, restaurants, museums). We invite all researchers who uncover factors that drive consumers’ behavior, with the use of electrical brain activity data, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) measures, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), galvanic skin response (GSR), cardiac activity, pulse rate (via wrist-worn smartwatches or fitness monitors), facial muscle activity and video-based facial expression analysis, pupillometry and/or eye tracking. This requires a coordinated effort of multiple scientific disciplines including neuroscience, psychology, decision-making and (multi)sensory evaluation.
Keywords: preference formation, neuroscience, physiology, evaluative processing, consumer behavior
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