What’S on Your Mind? Neuroscientific Approaches to Studying Consumer Choice

Session Chair: Akshay Rao, University of Minnesota
Discussion Leader: Eric Johnson, Columbia University

Session Name:   “What’s On Your Mind? Neuroscientific Approaches to Studying Consumer Choice”



1.      Inferring the Role of Outcome Feedback on Choice using Neuroscientific Techniques

John Dickhaut, University of Minnesota


Consumers face risky choices in a variety of settings, from purchasing financial securities to deciding on whether or not to purchase an extended warranty for a new car.  We examine differences in the neural mechanisms that may occur in the evaluation of risky outcomes in the presence and absence of performance feedback. Employing behavioral and neuroscientific measures, we not only observe differences in performance quality but also observe differences in emotional response, depending on the presence and absence of feedback.



2.      The Neuroscience of Trust

Kevin McCabe, George Mason University


Two settings in which consumers may employ trust are examined. In interpersonal exchanges in which the other player in the marketplace is known, the nature of brain activity is substantially different relative to exchanges with marketplace institutions (such as brand names). It appears that the anticipation associated with consuming a branded product may yield a different type of arousal as opposed to the system that has evolved to monitor inter-personal relationships.



3.      Examining Phantom Decoys: Paper and pencil and fMRI studies

William Hedgcock, University of Minnesota

Akshay Rao, University of Minnesota


The decoy effect is a long-standing empirical observation of a violation of the regularity principle. According to this effect, the choice share of elements in a two-element choice set change upon the introduction of a third, irrelevant alternative. We observe and predict (based on behavioral as well as functional imaging studies) that the decoy effect occurs because trade-offs (between the original two elements) elicit negative emotion and the presence of the decoy makes the decision task easier and less laden with negative emotion.
[ to cite ]:
Session Chair: Akshay Rao and Discussion Leader: Eric Johnson (2006) ,"What’S on Your Mind? Neuroscientific Approaches to Studying Consumer Choice", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 33, eds. Connie Pechmann and Linda Price, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 355-355.