A new, three year research program will evaluate how neuromarketing is being used has been launched at Oxford:

As interest in neuromarketing grows, Professor Steve Woolgar and Dr Tanja Schneider are to carry out a three-year project to better understand how these techniques are being applied to marketing and research, and how they will affect our understanding of how consumers make decisions. [From Research.]

Although Woolgar says this will be “the first empirical study of how emerging neurological knowledge about human decision-making is transforming the techniques of marketers and others who seek to influence consumption behaviour” it isn’t clear that it will clear up many questions about the efficacy of neuromarketing techniques.

The article’s note that the study will include “ethnographic research, interviews and a historical assessment of how various market research techniques have influenced views of consumer behaviour” makes the effort seem a bit, ummm, academic.

The study hopes to find why there’s a surge in interest in neuromarketing. It seems like the answer to that one would be obvious, inasmuch as the technology promises a new and powerful understanding of how people really react to ads and products.

While the brief definition of the project doesn’t sound that promising, I suppose the mere fact that as revered an institution as Oxford is looking at neuromarketing is a step in the right direction.

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