Neuromarketing Books: The Ultimate Reading List

Neuromarketing Books - The Ultimate Reading List

People often ask me which books they should read first to learn about neuromarketing and/or a science-based approach to marketing and business. I usually rattle off a few of my favorites but miss many other excellent titles. So, here is my first stab at creating the ultimate reading list of neuromarketing books.

I’ve divided it into two groups – a core list of books that should be in every marketer’s library, and an expanded list of books I’ve read and can recommend. Don’t look at this division as absolute or an indication of relative quality! Every book on this list has great merit, and, depending on your interests and needs, titles from the expanded list may suit you better.

I’ve been privileged to have many of these authors on my podcast, and I’ve linked to those conversations where possible.

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Although I’ve tried to be thorough, I have probably omitted some deserving titles. Please leave a comment or drop me an email if I’ve missed one of your own top choices in the space. (For convenience, I’ve added Amazon links – these are affiliate links, which means I get paid a small amount if you purchase after clicking. You are, of course, free to purchase however and wherever you prefer.)

By the way, my own next book is Friction, due out from McGraw Hill on April 26, 2019. It’s a guide to harnessing that invisible force to get more sales, more engaged team members, and even better habits! Stay tuned for more info!

Happy reading!

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Neuromarketing Books: Core Reading List

Neuromarketing Books - Reading List

[Listed alphabetically by author]

Predictably Irrational

Author: Dan Ariely (@danariely)

Podcast: Dan Ariely Explains the Science of Motivation
Podcast: Real-World Behavior Science with Dan Ariely

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely looks at the irrational decisions we make every day and creates psychological experiments to demonstrate the human drivers behind a wide range of decisions. This isn’t a marketing or business book, exactly, but Ariely’s many examples will convince even the most skeptical business person that non-conscious influences on decision-making are both real and important. Find at Amazon



Author: Robert Cialdini (@RobertCialdini)

Podcast: Robert Cialdini’s New Insight: PRE-Suasion

This is the classic that presented six principles of influence that marketers still use every day. Cialdini clarifies the psychology of why we say yes and how to apply these findings. Terms like “social proof” and “scarcity” are part of every marketer’s lexicon today – this is the book started it all. Here’s some social proof: Influence has sold 3 million copies, and remains a best-seller today! The book that influenced generations of marketers is no less applicable today than when it first released. Find at Amazon

Influence and Pre-Suasion by @RobertCialdini plus two other books co-authored with @scienceofyes & Noah Goldstein are on the Ultimate #Neuromarketing Reading List. Share on X


Author: Robert Cialdini (@RobertCialdini)

Podcast: Robert Cialdini’s New Insight: PRE-Suasion

Three decades after writing Influence, Robert Cialdini delivered a sequel that extends that classic work in several ways. Cialdini reveals that the secret doesn’t lie only in the message itself, but in the key moment before that message is delivered. And, a big surprise for persuasion experts – Cialdini adds a seventh principle of influence to the long-established six!  Find at Amazon


Author: Roger Dooley (@rogerdooley)

Sorry, I had to include my own book in this group. It’s one of the small number of neuromarketing best-sellers and is on just about everyone else’s top list for neuromarketing books. When I wrote the book, my objective was to help businesses and organizations of any size use strategies based on brain and behavioral science. Brainfluence is divided into 100 short chapters. Each starts with a concept based on research and then shows how that can be applied in a practical way. The chapters are divided into sections that let the reader jump to the issue they need help with content and copywriting, pricing, non-profit, and so on. Find at Amazon 


Author: Nir Eyal (@nireyal)

Podcast: Turn Your Product into a Habit with Nir Eyal

This book explains the Hooked Model: a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior and form habits.  Hooked is not abstract theory, but a how-to guide for building better products. Nir Eyal masterfully weaves his insights of technology, business, and psychology into his four-step model that reveals the formula for creating habit-forming products. Find at Amazon

Want to make your product something that your customers use over and over? Read Hooked by @nireyal. From the Ultimate Neuromarketing Reading List. Share on X


Neuromarketing for Dummies

Author: Stephen Genco (@sjgenco)

Don’t be put off by the title of this book, it’s one of the better neuromarketing books on the market. Although the content is presented in the format used by all books in Wiley’s Dummies series, there’s a ton of well-researched information in the book. Neuromarketing for Dummies (my review) is a readable intro to both non-conscious effects on decision-making and the more technical side of neuromarketing. Find at Amazon

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Author: Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow (my review) is an essential and fundamental guide to how humans think. Nobel Prize winner Kahneman explains how two “systems” in the mind make decisions. “System 1” is the fast, intuitive aspect of the mind. “System 2” is the slower, logical and reasoning part of the mind. Kahneman gives us a comprehensive explanation of why we make decisions the way we do. The book is very readable for non-scientists and has been a best-seller since its release. Find at Amazon



Author: Martin Lindstrom (@MartinLindstrom)

Podcast: Martin Lindstrom and the Power of Small Data

The lessons in Buyology (my review) are pulled from a three-years, $7 million research project which Lindstrom started in 2004. This might still be the largest neuromarketing study ever conducted’ Lindstrom worked with organizations around the world to test what people actually feel about certain advertising techniques and products using fMRI. Some of the findings about tobacco warning labels and red Formula One cars will surprise you. One of the first neuromarketing books to be a true bestseller. Find at Amazon


Authors: Richard H. Thaler (@R_Thaler) and Cass Sunstein (@CassSunstein)

Richard Thaler is the second Nobelist in this list, and the ideas in Nudge are a key part of that win. It’s about choice architecture: the ways that various factors in how a choice is presented may affect the decisions made by the chooser. The decisions we make are affected by “nudges.” Today, governments and businesses around the world have set up “nudge units” that apply behavioral science to achieve better outcomes. Real-world application of Thaler’s insights have led to more people saving for retirement, more organ donors, and more.  Find at Amazon

Nudge by @R_Thaler and @CassSunstein is a core selection on the Ultimate #Neuromarketing Reading List. Share on X

Why We Buy

Why We Buy

Author: Paco Underhill (@PacoUnderhill1)

When it comes to shopping is there a method to our madness? Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a Sherlock Holmes for retailers,” author and research company CEO Paco Underhill provides startling insights into the behavior of retail shoppers. Why We Buy is based on hard data gleaned from thousands of hours of field research in shopping malls, department stores, and supermarkets across America. Underhill’s book is an essential guide to survival in today’s highly competitive retail environment. Find at Amazon

Unconscious Branding

Author: Douglas Van Praet (@DouglasVanPraet)

In Unconscious Branding (my review), Van Praet offers a rare combination of advertising savvy and behavioral science insights. This extensively researched book unveils observations into how the brain makes decisions and what marketers can do to change behavior. Each chapter explains what the author wants to accomplish in that phase, liberally seasoned with both research references and examples of advertising campaigns that illustrate the topic.  Find at Amazon

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More Recommended Neuromarketing Books



Author: Phil P. Barden (@philbarden)

This book focuses on the neuroscience and mechanisms driving people to spend money. It shows us how branding works in order to influence our purchase decisions. Barden argues that “Strong brands have a real effect in the brain, and this effect is to enable intuitive and rapid decision making without thinking”. The book has plenty of examples and detailed explanations making it easy to understand. The stated goal of the author was to provide marketers with a scientific framework to be more effective at their work. Find at Amazon


Author: Jonah Berger (@j1berger ‏)

Podcast: Invisible Influence with Jonah Berger

Why do some things catch on, and others get no traction? Wharton prof and bestselling author Jonah Berger decided to find out if successful things had something in common. After extensive research, Berger identified six elements that will make a product “Contagious”.  We all want our products and ideas to spread on their own, and Berger offers a roadmap for accomplishing that. Speaking of contagious, this book has over 800 Amazon reviews with an average rating of 4.5! Find at Amazon

Decoding The Irrational Consumer

Author: Darren Bridger (@Darrenbridger ‏)

Podcast: Decoding the Consumer Brain with Darren Bridger

Darren Bridger uses neuromarketing data to reveal how consumers’ primal instincts affect their decision-making process and how to use those insights to influence their brand loyalty and purchasing behaviors.  
The book looks at irrationality in the consumer, giving a glimpse at the developing world of behavioral sciences, as well as providing clues as to how this irrationality may be exploited.  Find at Amazon

Neuro Design

Author: Darren Bridger (@Darrenbridger ‏)

Podcast: Decoding the Consumer Brain with Darren Bridger

Looking at how design in today’s world works, Neuro Design links human psychology with technology. Author of two neuromarketing books, Bridger takes a practical approach and provides a very accessible and readable introduction to numerous design principles that are derived from brain science. These can help anyone involved in any design profession create images, sites, stories, and apps that conform to the natural predispositions of the human mind. Find at Amazon

Brain Bugs

Brain Bugs

Author: Dean Buonomano (@DeanBuono)

In Brain Bugs, Buonomano explains how and why our brains sometimes fail us when we try to do things like remember long lists of information, add large numbers in our heads or make long-term decisions. He also explains how cognitive biases affect our decisions.  Though the effects are subtle, priming the brain and other associative tricks have been used by advertisers and marketers for years. Find at Amazon

How to Win Friends & Influence People

Author: Dale Carnegie (@DaleCarnegie – company)

How to Win Friends and Influence People was first published in 1937 with only five thousand copies. The book became an overnight bestseller, and it has been in print ever since. Long before modern neuroscience, Carnegie tapped into basic truths about human behavior. This book might seem like an odd choice for a list of neuromarketing books, but the human insights it provides will be helpful in sales, marketing, and business in general. Find at Amazon

The Persuasion Slide

The Persuasion Slide

Author: Roger Dooley (@rogerdooley)

Apologies again for including my own work. The Persuasion Slide is a simple framework for changing behavior and getting people to do things. Its unique characteristic is that each of four elements has both a conscious and non-conscious component. This encourages marketers and other persuaders to focus on both aspects of persuasion at every step of their process. Find at Amazon

The Advertising Effect

Author: Adam Ferrier (@adamferrier)

The aim of this book is to expose the techniques that advertisers use to get consumers to buy.  Examples and case studies included are used to illustrate successful strategies and include famous campaigns such as Steal Banksy and Share a Coke. Ferrier translates the multitude of neuroscience and psychology literature into frameworks that can be applied immediately to your business.  Find at Amazon



Author: Malcolm Gladwell (@Gladwell)

 In Blink, Gladwell introduces the concept and power of “thin-slicing”.  Whenever people have to make sense of complicated situations or deal with lots of information quickly, they bring to bear all of their beliefs, attitudes, values, experiences, education and more on the situation. Then, people thin-slice the situation to comprehend it quickly.  The implications of this concept have astonishing significance for your personal reactions to most situations. Gladwell’s entertaining deep dive into human intuition isn’t about marketing, but is a fascinating look at human behavior that is essential business reading.  Find at Amazon

Emotional Branding

Author: Marc Gobe (@mgobe)

Emotional Branding is the bestselling business book that created a movement in branding circles by shifting the focus from products to people. The “10 Commandments of Emotional Branding” are a new benchmark for marketing and creative professionals. Consumers associate with brands that resonate with their identity, and when a close emotional link to a brand is formed that brand prospers. Find at Amazon

Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive

Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive

Author: Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin (@scienceofyes), and Robert Cialdini (@robertcialdini)

Podcast: Small Changes, BIG Influence with Dr. Robert Cialdini

Robert Cialdini and his coauthors are leaders in researching the science of influence.  Yes! (my review) is a collection of fifty persuasion techniques. Each technique is based on at least one psychology study, and all of the studies are listed in a chapter-by-chapter basis in the book’s notes section. Each of the short chapters starts with a brief description of the research underlying a technique and ends with one or more suggested uses. Find at Amazon

Neuro Sell

Author: Simon Hazeldine (@SimonHazeldine)

Neuro-Sell applies neuroscience insights to marketing to help businesses increase sales. By turning complicated research into rational and actionable advice for immediate results, Hazeldine helps improve customer relationships and master the art of brain-friendly selling. The book guides readers through a highly effective, selling process that is powerful, ethical and customer driven.  Find at Amazon

Made to Stick

Made to Stick

Author: Chip Heath & Dan Heath

This instant classic is all about why some ideas thrive, while others die. How you can give your idea a fighting chance?  Is it any good at all? Dan and Chip Heath discuss a five-step communication framework: pay attention, understand, believe, care, and act. They outline a formula for judging and creating ideas that will ‘Stick’. Marketers can find ways to screen concepts and communicate them in a lasting and impactful way.  Find at Amazon


Author: Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Another great book from the bestselling Heath brothers, Switch shows us how ordinary people from varying careers and walks of life have combined both the rational and the emotional mind and accomplished impressive results. The authors use the analogy of an elephant and his rider. The rider is your logical brain (conscious). The elephant is your heart (non-conscious). The rider has limited control over the elephant’s direction, but Switch shows how to get the elephant to follow your desired path. Find at Amazon


Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation

Author: Sally Hogshead (@SallyHogshead)

Master marketer and brand builder Sally Hogshead dives into what triggers “fascination,” and how do companies, people, and ideas can use those triggers.  Fascination plays a role in every type of decision, from the brands you choose, to the songs you remember, from the person you marry, to the employees you hire. Describing seven triggers, the author reveals how powerful brands like FedEx, Disne, and W Hotels combine such triggers as lust, power, mystique, and trust in different ways to reel in customers or reinforce messaging. Find at Amazon

Got Fascination? @SallyHogshead tells you why you need it and how to get it... from the Ultimate Neuromarketing Reading List. Share on X

The Art of Choosing

Author: Sheena Iyengar (@Sheena_Iyengar)

Iyengar is an expert in choice. She spent a decade and a half of research provoking out the patterns of human decision-making and revealing its contradictions: how we love choice but are confounded, even paralyzed, when there are too many choices. The Art of Choosing examines the issue of choice from various perspectives, cultural, psychological, evolutionary, and business. Iyengar discusses the tension between our automatic and reflective mental systems when making decisions. Find at Amazon

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Methods of Persuasion

Methods of Persuasion

Author: Nick Kolenda (@NickKolenda)

This book offers a great step by step process not only for the persuasion of others but also for understanding how products are sold to us.  It also looks at how feelings are anchored to products, people and events. Nick Kolenda is a ‘mind reader’ for entertainment purposes, you can find and view his acts on YouTube.  But don’t be fooled – Methods of Persuasion is a well-researched, useful guide to the art and science of influencing others. Find at Amazon

Brain Sell

Author: David Lewis

Podcast: Shopper Science, Big Data, and Neuromarketing with Dr. David Lewis

David Lewis, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist, is nicknamed the “father of neuromarketing” for his early studies of investigating brain activity for research and commercial purposes. He currently specializes in noninvasive techniques for measuring human responses under real-life conditions. Brain Sell is the inside story of how our rapidly evolving understanding of the brain plays into the marketing, advertising, and retailing industry. Find at Amazon


Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy

Author: Martin Lindstrom (@MartinLindstrom)

Podcast: Martin Lindstrom and the Power of Small Data

The bestselling author of Buyology changes hats in this excellent book. Lindstrom writes from a consumer advocate point of view to give us an inside look at how today’s big brands exploit our brains in order to persuade shoppers to buy. Brandwashed explains the real reason supermarkets display whole fish on ice and use chalk boards for signage. (Some of those “chalk boards” are really printed signs!)  Find at Amazon

Both Buyology and Brandwashed by @MartinLindstrom are on the Ultimate Neuromarketing Reading List. Share on X

The Small Big

Author: Steve J. Martin (@scienceofyes), Noah Goldstein, and Robert Cialdini (@RobertCialdini)

Podcast: Small Changes, BIG Influence with Dr. Robert Cialdini

Three of the great experts in persuasion – Steve Martin, Noah Goldstein, and Robert Cialdini – come together again to create blueprint for nudging people. The book describes fifty small nudges that can make a big impact in changing behavior.  Many of the nudges use Cialdini’s long-established principles of influence and are based on Kahneman’s dual modes of thinking and decision-making. Find at Amazon

The Persuasion Code

The Persuasion Code

Authors: Christophe Morin (@christophemorin) and Patrick Renvoise (@patrickrenvoise)

Podcast: The Persuasion Code Part 1, with Christophe Morin
Podcast: The Persuasion Code Part 2, with Patrick Renvoise

Christophe Morin and Patrick Renvoise are back, and it was worth the long wait. The Persuasion Code starts with the scientific underpinnings of persuasion science and concludes with a framework for applying this science to sales and marketing. Morin and Renvoise were among the earliest supporters of the concept of neuromarketing, and their latest effort shows the results of 15+ years of work in the field. Find at Amazon

The earliest neuromarketing authors, @ChristopheMorin and @PatrickRenvoise, offer science-based sales tactics in The Persuasion Code. From the Ultimate Neuromarketing Reading List. Share on X

Webs of Influence

Author: Nathalie Nahai (@NathalieNahai)

Webs of Influence is about persuasion, specifically in the online environment of websites and apps. Author Nathalie Nahai, known as The Web Psychologist, digs into the essentials of establishing a relationship with your web visitor, using principles of authority, attraction, trust, design, and more. Whether you want to choose the best color for your website or decide what imagery will work best, Nahai has your answer. Find at Amazon

The Branded Mind

The Branded Mind

Author: Erik Du Plessis

The Branded Mind: What Neuroscience Really Tells Us About the Puzzle of the Brain and the Brand, is a book with extensive research and serious thinking about how brands interact with our brains.  Author Erik Du Plessis describes why emotions are not in conflict with rational behavior but, at the same time, how they influence behavior. This is a deep dive into the science of branding.  Find at Amazon

The Buying Brain

Author: A.K. Pradeep (@akpradeep)

A.K. Pradeep founded Neurofocus, which became the biggest neuromarketing firm of its time and eventually became part of Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience. The Buying Brain is based on years of consumer testing and shows how non-conscious influences affect decisions. Pradeep makes a convincing case that effective market research must look beyond surveys and focus groups. Find at Amazon

Introduction to Neuromarketing & Consumer Neuroscience

Introduction to Neuromarketing & Consumer Neuroscience

Author: Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy (@tzramsoy)

Podcast: Bringing Brains to Business with Thomas Ramsøy

As both an academic and practitioner in the consumer neuroscience space, Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy is well-equipped to write a book that can serve as both a textbook and practical guide to neuromarketing. He examines topics like sensation, consciousness, attention, perception, emotion, memory, feeling, and much more. Ramsøy shows how neuroscience can be applied to measure both consumer cognition and emotions. Find at Amazon


Authors: Patrick Renvoise (@patrickrenvoise) and Christophe Morin (@christophemorin)

Podcast: The Persuasion Code Part 1, with Christophe Morin
Podcast: The Persuasion Code Part 2, with Patrick Renvoise

The earliest of all neuromarketing books, this is the book that launched the concept of a “buy button” in the customer’s brain. Neuroscientists may scoff at the button metaphor, but the point that buying decisions are brain-based and not always based on logic can’t be disputed. Renvoise and Morin were pioneers in the neuromarketing space, and this book was the first one about the subject. Their focus is very practical and emphasizes identifying pain points to be effective in sales and marketing. Find at Amazon



Author: Al Ries (@AlRiesofficial) and Jack Trout (@Jack Trout)

Did you know most people can only remember the top three things in any given category?  Al Ries, Jack Trout, and Philip Kotler argue that you have to position your product/company/person in the mind of the consumer, in relation to the market leader. This book was written almost 20 years ago and yet it’s still very relevant. Jack Trout coined the term “positioning” and first wrote about it in a 1972 article in Advertising Age.  Find at Amazon

The Paradox of Choice

Author: Barry Schwartz (@BarrySch)

Podcast: Is Choice Still a Paradox? With Dr. Barry Schwartz

The science of choice, a particular kind of decision-making, can be counterintuitive. Consumers say they want more choice, but in some cases giving them more choice makes them less likely to buy. More choices and a longer decision process can make you less happy with your decision. Barry Schwartz describes these and many other surprising findings in his bestseller, now updated and in paperback format. Find at Amazon



Author: Richard H. Thaler (@R_Thaler)

For much of history, economists regarded humans as rational beings using logical strategies to optimize their lives. They ignored all evidence to the contrary, at least until the concept of behavioral economics got traction. In Misbehaving, Nobelist Richard Thaler explains how psychology became fused with economics and why that’s a good thing. Find at Amazon

Brand Seduction

Author: Daryl Weber (@BrandedCortex)

Podcast: Brand Seduction – How to Make Your Brand Memorable with Daryl Weber

Daryl Weber takes us on a seductive journey through how the brain works, how we process messages and how we project our wants and needs into brands. To create a brand people will identify with and truly love, companies must try for complete consistency of message. Equally important today, perhaps, is that marketers must understand neuroscience and behavior. Find at Amazon

Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads

Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads

Author: Roy H. Williams (@WizardofAds)

Roy Williams has a keen understanding of advertising psychology. In his NYTimes and WSJ bestseller Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads, he conveys lots of advertising wisdom along with encouragement, proverbs, and stories that add human interest. Even though the book was released in 1998, the prescient Williams digs deep into explanations of the human mind and neurology to craft powerful strategies. Find at Amazon

How Customers Think

Author: Gerald Zaltman (@gzaltman)

How Customers Think is one of the first neuromarketing books I read as I began my long dive into applied brain and behavior science. Zaltman is the source for my often-used comment that 95% of our behaviors are non-conscious.  Zaltman explains how a shopper’s buying decision is influenced by the interactions between mind, brain, body, and society. He also offers a unique, almost psychoanalytic, approach to finding out what consumers really think and want. Find at Amazon

Neuromarketing Zurawicki


Author: Leon Zurawicki

Leon Zurawicki’s Neuromarketing, released in 2010, was the first academic neuromarketing book to address the nascent field of consumer neuroscience. Zurawicki’s textbook draws on business literature, cognitive neuroscience, neurophysiology, decision science and the theory of emotions to provide a solid reference for neuromarketing students at any level. Find at Amazon

Get your FREE Neuromarketing Book Cheat Sheet.
It’s a list of all the books in this article and includes links to both Amazon and to each author’s Twitter! Click here.

Make your #marketing more brainy - read a few selections from the Ultimate Neuromarketing Reading List. Share on X

  1. Ed Powers says

    Great list, Roger! Thanks for pulling it together.

  2. Saul Johnstone says

    Awesome list, thanks Roger. I would add Cashvertising by Drew Whitman; densely packed with practical, actionable insights and very accessible.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Thanks, Saul, I haven’t read that one but I will check it out!

  3. Johnathan Weberg says

    The terms friction and usability, need to be more common and well known in our industry. Because their impact is CRITICAL for conversion , customer retention, and all of the metrics that companies and businesses care about so much. Along with it’s better for the customers too!

    1. Roger Dooley says

      We are singing the same tune, Johnathan! I think you will like Friction! Stay tuned here for updates.

  4. Adam Roseland says

    Great list! I would also recommend Cashvertising as being relevant to this list. Not sure if it would fall in line here, but Hypnotic Writing by Joe Vitale was a good read, just not sure if it’s science enough… or based more on the author’s hunches.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Thanks for the suggestions, Adam!

  5. Graham Jones says

    Excellent list. Shame my book Click.ology didn’t make it to the list even though it is all about the psychology of online shopping

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Haven’t read it, Graham. I’ll send an email.

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