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Measurement devices and the psychophysiology of consumer behaviour: A posthuman genealogy of neuromarketing

Authors
  • Schwarzkopf, Stefan1
  • 1 Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Management, Porcelaenshaven 18A, Frederiksberg, 2000, Denmark , Frederiksberg (Denmark)
Type
Published Article
Journal
BioSocieties
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Publication Date
Mar 30, 2015
Volume
10
Issue
4
Pages
465–482
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1057/biosoc.2015.3
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

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.

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