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Led into temptation? Rewarding brand logos bias the neural encoding of incidental economic decisions.

Murawski C, Harris PG, Bode S, Domínguez D JF, Egan GF - PLoS ONE (2012)

Bottom Line: We demonstrated that priming biased participants' preferences towards more immediate rewards in the subsequent temporal discounting task.Our findings demonstrate the general susceptibility of the human decision making system to apparently incidental contextual information.We conclude that the brain incorporates seemingly unrelated value information that modifies decision making outside the decision-maker's awareness.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Finance, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia. carstenm@unimelb.edu.au

ABSTRACT
Human decision-making is driven by subjective values assigned to alternative choice options. These valuations are based on reward cues. It is unknown, however, whether complex reward cues, such as brand logos, may bias the neural encoding of subjective value in unrelated decisions. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we subliminally presented brand logos preceding intertemporal choices. We demonstrated that priming biased participants' preferences towards more immediate rewards in the subsequent temporal discounting task. This was associated with modulations of the neural encoding of subjective values of choice options in a network of brain regions, including but not restricted to medial prefrontal cortex. Our findings demonstrate the general susceptibility of the human decision making system to apparently incidental contextual information. We conclude that the brain incorporates seemingly unrelated value information that modifies decision making outside the decision-maker's awareness.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Stimuli and experimental paradigm.In each temporal discounting (TD) trial, a prime stimulus (Apple logo or neutral cup) was presented for 16 ms, flanked by two masks. The pre-mask was shown for 84 ms followed by a blank screen for 16 ms. The post-mask was shown for 400 ms, consisting of 4 slightly different versions, flickered for 100 ms each. The post-mask was further preceded by a blank screen for 16 ms, used to achieve optimal masking. During perceptual control (PC) trials, the prime stimulus was replaced by an additional blank screen (16 ms). Participants had to choose between two choice alternatives, presented randomly on either side of the screen. They indicated their choice by pressing a response button with their left or right thumb. For TD decisions, they had to choose between $20 now and a higher amount of money at some delay (shown on left side in the figure). For PC decisions, participants were asked to decide on which side the red cross appeared (shown on right side). The response period lasted 4000 ms.
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pone-0034155-g001: Stimuli and experimental paradigm.In each temporal discounting (TD) trial, a prime stimulus (Apple logo or neutral cup) was presented for 16 ms, flanked by two masks. The pre-mask was shown for 84 ms followed by a blank screen for 16 ms. The post-mask was shown for 400 ms, consisting of 4 slightly different versions, flickered for 100 ms each. The post-mask was further preceded by a blank screen for 16 ms, used to achieve optimal masking. During perceptual control (PC) trials, the prime stimulus was replaced by an additional blank screen (16 ms). Participants had to choose between two choice alternatives, presented randomly on either side of the screen. They indicated their choice by pressing a response button with their left or right thumb. For TD decisions, they had to choose between $20 now and a higher amount of money at some delay (shown on left side in the figure). For PC decisions, participants were asked to decide on which side the red cross appeared (shown on right side). The response period lasted 4000 ms.

Mentions: In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we investigated the neural basis of the unconscious influence of rewarding brand logos by subliminally presenting either an image of the corporate brand logo of Apple Inc. (reward cue) or an image of a cup (neutral cue) to participants before they made a temporal discounting decision [14], [15], [20] (Fig. 1; see Materials and Methods). We chose the Apple logo for this study because according to market research, the Apple brand has been one of the most valuable consumer brands (http://www.millwardbrown.com/BrandZ). Furthermore, the Apple logo has been shown to create strong consumer-brand relationships and shape consumer behavior [2], suggesting the potential for a priming effect. Additionally, we obtained a priming effect with this stimulus in a separate study (unpublished data). We aimed to determine whether the brand logos would bias decision outcomes, even though the brand logo's domain was not related to the decisions. In line with other studies using strong reward cues [24], we hypothesised that priming with the brand logo would increase impulsive decision-making and lead to steeper discounting of future rewards.


Led into temptation? Rewarding brand logos bias the neural encoding of incidental economic decisions.

Murawski C, Harris PG, Bode S, Domínguez D JF, Egan GF - PLoS ONE (2012)

Stimuli and experimental paradigm.In each temporal discounting (TD) trial, a prime stimulus (Apple logo or neutral cup) was presented for 16 ms, flanked by two masks. The pre-mask was shown for 84 ms followed by a blank screen for 16 ms. The post-mask was shown for 400 ms, consisting of 4 slightly different versions, flickered for 100 ms each. The post-mask was further preceded by a blank screen for 16 ms, used to achieve optimal masking. During perceptual control (PC) trials, the prime stimulus was replaced by an additional blank screen (16 ms). Participants had to choose between two choice alternatives, presented randomly on either side of the screen. They indicated their choice by pressing a response button with their left or right thumb. For TD decisions, they had to choose between $20 now and a higher amount of money at some delay (shown on left side in the figure). For PC decisions, participants were asked to decide on which side the red cross appeared (shown on right side). The response period lasted 4000 ms.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3316633&req=5

pone-0034155-g001: Stimuli and experimental paradigm.In each temporal discounting (TD) trial, a prime stimulus (Apple logo or neutral cup) was presented for 16 ms, flanked by two masks. The pre-mask was shown for 84 ms followed by a blank screen for 16 ms. The post-mask was shown for 400 ms, consisting of 4 slightly different versions, flickered for 100 ms each. The post-mask was further preceded by a blank screen for 16 ms, used to achieve optimal masking. During perceptual control (PC) trials, the prime stimulus was replaced by an additional blank screen (16 ms). Participants had to choose between two choice alternatives, presented randomly on either side of the screen. They indicated their choice by pressing a response button with their left or right thumb. For TD decisions, they had to choose between $20 now and a higher amount of money at some delay (shown on left side in the figure). For PC decisions, participants were asked to decide on which side the red cross appeared (shown on right side). The response period lasted 4000 ms.
Mentions: In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we investigated the neural basis of the unconscious influence of rewarding brand logos by subliminally presenting either an image of the corporate brand logo of Apple Inc. (reward cue) or an image of a cup (neutral cue) to participants before they made a temporal discounting decision [14], [15], [20] (Fig. 1; see Materials and Methods). We chose the Apple logo for this study because according to market research, the Apple brand has been one of the most valuable consumer brands (http://www.millwardbrown.com/BrandZ). Furthermore, the Apple logo has been shown to create strong consumer-brand relationships and shape consumer behavior [2], suggesting the potential for a priming effect. Additionally, we obtained a priming effect with this stimulus in a separate study (unpublished data). We aimed to determine whether the brand logos would bias decision outcomes, even though the brand logo's domain was not related to the decisions. In line with other studies using strong reward cues [24], we hypothesised that priming with the brand logo would increase impulsive decision-making and lead to steeper discounting of future rewards.

Bottom Line: We demonstrated that priming biased participants' preferences towards more immediate rewards in the subsequent temporal discounting task.Our findings demonstrate the general susceptibility of the human decision making system to apparently incidental contextual information.We conclude that the brain incorporates seemingly unrelated value information that modifies decision making outside the decision-maker's awareness.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Finance, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia. carstenm@unimelb.edu.au

ABSTRACT
Human decision-making is driven by subjective values assigned to alternative choice options. These valuations are based on reward cues. It is unknown, however, whether complex reward cues, such as brand logos, may bias the neural encoding of subjective value in unrelated decisions. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we subliminally presented brand logos preceding intertemporal choices. We demonstrated that priming biased participants' preferences towards more immediate rewards in the subsequent temporal discounting task. This was associated with modulations of the neural encoding of subjective values of choice options in a network of brain regions, including but not restricted to medial prefrontal cortex. Our findings demonstrate the general susceptibility of the human decision making system to apparently incidental contextual information. We conclude that the brain incorporates seemingly unrelated value information that modifies decision making outside the decision-maker's awareness.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus