Measurement Devices and the Psychophysiology of Consumer Behaviour: A Posthuman Genealogy of Neuromarketing

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Abstract

From the 1890s, psychophysiological measurement devices have played an important, but as yet under-theorized role in marketing and consumer research. Because of the recent advances made in neuromarketing, it is often assumed that these measurement devices ushered in a radically new understanding of the type of subjectivity that underlies consumer behaviour. I argue instead that a posthuman view of the relationship between brain, mind and behaviour underpinned neurophysiological research into consumers from its very beginning in the late nineteenth century. By tracing the biopolitical potentialities of neuromarketing back to the Fin-de-Siècle neurophysiological laboratory, I show that consumers' bodies and later on their brains became reconfigured as part of a dispositif made up of laboratory-based artefacts (measurement devices) and new ways of seeing the human brain and human behaviour. This dispositif, the latest expression of which is neuromarketing, promised to empower marketing researchers and practitioners alike by fulfilling their dream of being able to bypass consumers' verbalized cognition and instead draw upon the 'truth' of their physiological reactions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBioSocieties
Volume10
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)465-482
Number of pages18
ISSN1745-8552
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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