Decision making and the brain

Neuromarketing Shoots Itself in the Foot

Neuromarketers may be their own worst enemies. Neuromarketing, and its slightly more established sibling, neuroeconomics, are exciting areas in which new research findings pop up every week. Unfortunately, the rush to commercialize the technology seems to lead to an overabundance of hype and claims that are difficult to back up. A good example is the recent New York Times Op-Ed piece This Is Your Brain on Politics which we chronicled in Political Neuromarketing. […]

By |January 9th, 2008|

CMU Computers Read Thoughts

Most scientists have dismissed the idea of reading minds using technology as pure science fiction, but Carnegie Mellon University researchers have moved a step closer to doing so. Not only have they been able to identify which of several images a subject is looking at using fMRI scans of their brains. The most startling result is that the CMU researchers were able to take the data from the initial batch of subjects and repeat the identification feat with new subjects. […]

By |January 7th, 2008|

How To Increase Customer Pain

Big companies often find great ways to aggravate their customers, and cell phone giant Sprint proves the point. John Wall of the Ronin Marketing blog posted a rant about Sprint’s advertising for their Centro Palm smartphone, Screw Your Customers. Wall was understandably miffed when he found out that the $99 advertised price for the phone applied only to new customers, and that as an existing four-phone Sprint customer, he would have to pay $250 for the Centro. Beyond exacting what appears to be a penalty for customer loyalty, Sprint has committed a second sin of the neuromarketing variety. […]

By |November 28th, 2007|

Turkey-Induced Trust?

Just in time for the annual Thanksgiving turkey overdose, MIT Technology Review has run Tryptophan, Turkey, and Trust by Emily Singer. Tryptophan is the enzyme abundant in turkey that has been shown to cause drowsiness. Many credit tryptophan for the postprandial coma holiday diners often: fall into. It is also a precursor to seratonin, an important brain signaling molecule. Long known for its role in depression, seratonin is now being studied by neuroeconomics researchers interested in its role in normal behavior. Robert Rogers of Oxford University finds that seratonin seems to have a role in social interactions and trust levels between individuals. […]

By |November 21st, 2007|

When Everyone is Above Average

Would you be limiting yourself if you targeted advertising only at those who were above average in whatever characteristic related to your product (say, intelligence, good looks, athletic ability, perserverance, etc.)? In a word, NO. Studies show that across a wide spectrum of measures, almost everyone considers themselves to be above average. In the neuroeconomics book Your Money & Your Brain, author Jason Zweig cites a startling survey result in which two thirds of a group of drivers surveyed rated their skill, ability, and alertness the last time they were behind the wheel. That about two thirds rated themselves as “at least as competent as usual” wouldn’t be surprising had this group of drivers not been surveyed in the hospital after having crashed their cars! Zweig goes on to describe the actual police report data, which showed that two thirds of the group were directly responsible for their accidents, the majority had multiple traffic violations, etc. […]

By |November 6th, 2007|

Penalty Pain: How to Make Your Customers Hate You

Neuromarketing readers are by now familiar with the idea of “buying pain” or “pain of paying” – when we buy something, the pain center in our brain can be activated. Work by Carnegie Mellon’s George Loewenstein and others shows that this effect is greatest when the price is perceived to be high or unfair. Buying a pack of gum for $10 would be a lot more “painful” than spending 50 cents for the same item. One wonders how painful paying multiple $40 bounced check fees would be, particularly if you knew your bank processed the largest checks first to ensure the maximum number of bounces. […]

By |November 5th, 2007|

Trend: Neuroscience Infiltrates Society

As we understand more about the workings of the brain, neuroscience is starting to impact diverse areas of society. Over time, it will probably touch many more. This has been acknowledged by the Neurotechnology Industry Organization in their Top […]

By |November 2nd, 2007|

Why Percentages Don’t Add Up

Which is scarier – undergoing a potentially fatal surgical procedure that has a 95% survival rate, or one that causes death in 1 out of 20 patients? If you are like most people, you would find the latter statistic far more worrisome, even though mathematically the two statements are the same. A variety of research shows that marketers should choose carefully when throwing numbers at their customers. […]

By |October 29th, 2007|

Smiles Really DO Boost Sales

What’s the first thing a manager teaches a new retail or food service employee? Maybe “Don’t steal the cash!” is first, but right after that is, “Smile at the customer!” It turns out that this is probably even better advice than one might think. Continuing our exploration of subliminal stimuli and their effects on behavior, I wanted to share an intriguing study that shows that exposure to brief images of smiling or frowning faces – too quickly for the subject to consciously process – actually affected the amount test subjects were willing to pay for a drink! […]

By |October 26th, 2007|

Careers in Neuromarketing

Science Magazine has blessed neuromarketing and neuroeconomics by citing them as “interesting niche areas” in neuroscience research. Emma Hitt’s article notes, “The subject areas that qualify as neuroscience are as far-reaching and as interconnected as neurons themselves. Consequently, neuroscientists often work on questions that span several distinct subfields. Many neuroscience programs are interdepartmental and take on the structure of an institute rather than a department. For example, the mission at the Neuroscience Institute of Stanford is to ‘achieve a new synthesis from molecules to mind, from analysis to application, from science to society.'” […]

By |October 26th, 2007|