Brain-scanning technology reveals how we process brands and products

March 17, 2006

In a groundbreaking new study, researchers from the University of Michigan and Harvard University use cutting-edge brain-scanning technology to explore how different regions of the brain are activated when we think about certain qualities of brands and products.

The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research, is the first to use fMRI to assess consumer perceptions and has important implications for the use of metaphorical human-like traits in branding.

"[fMRI] allows one to gauge, for the first time, the degree to which the underlying thought processes are similar," write the researchers.

Subjects were given 450 adjectives such as "reliable," "sophisticated," and "cheerful," and scanned while indicating whether each word was applicable to themselves and someone else. The sample group was also scanned while making similar judgments about brands they know and use. The researchers discovered that even when the consumers were judging products on unmistakably human terms, they still used the part of the brain associated with inanimate objects.

"Although we may use similar vocabularies to describe people and products, we can't say that the same concepts are involved," explain the researchers. "Companies building brand images and icons should be wary of taking the legitimately useful metaphor of brand personality too literally, since it's now apparent that consumers themselves do not."

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: Study seeks to aid diagnosis, management of catatonia

Related Stories

Study seeks to aid diagnosis, management of catatonia

December 11, 2017

Catatonia, a syndrome of motor, emotional and behavioral abnormalities frequently characterized by muscular rigidity and a trance-like mental stupor and at times manifesting with great excitement or agitation, can occur during ...

Tasmanian tiger doomed long before humans came along

December 12, 2017

The Tasmanian tiger was doomed long before humans began hunting the enigmatic marsupial, scientists said Tuesday, with DNA sequencing showing it was in poor genetic health for thousands of years before its extinction.

Preconception paternal SSRI use linked to ADHD in offspring

December 11, 2017

(HealthDay)—Paternal use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) before conception is associated with increased risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in offspring, according to a study published ...

Stair-step clomiphene reduces time to ovulation in PCOS

December 11, 2017

(HealthDay)—The stair-step clomiphene protocol is associated with decreased time to ovulation for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), according to a study published online Dec. 4 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Recommended for you

Visualizing single molecules in whole cells with a new spin

December 12, 2017

Cell biologists traditionally use fluorescent dyes to label and visualize cells and the molecules within them under a microscope. With different super-resolution microscopy methods, they can even light up single molecules ...

Faster, more accurate cancer detection using nanoparticles

December 12, 2017

Using light-emitting nanoparticles, Rutgers University-New Brunswick scientists have invented a highly effective method to detect tiny tumors and track their spread, potentially leading to earlier cancer detection and more ...

Life's building blocks observed in spacelike environment

December 12, 2017

Where do the molecules required for life originate? It may be that small organic molecules first appeared on earth and were later combined into larger molecules, such as proteins and carbohydrates. But a second possibility ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.