The emerging field of neuromarketing relies on biometric technologies to determine a participant’s emotional and cognitive response to certain stimuli. In the case of neuromarketing, this stimulus is anything from a television commercial to an internet advertisement. There are six primary biometrics used to gather data on physiological responses to marketing stimuli:
1. Heart Rate
Using electrocardiography (ECG) as a measurement for medical conditions is common practice, but the heart’s physiological response to emotional stimuli is a well accepted phenomenon. This emotional response to stress, fear, and relief is a measurement many marketers are using today to determine a participant’s emotional response to given variables. This enables researchers to see the actual effect of an advertisement on one of the many unconscious human emotional responses.
Like heart rate, respiratory responses to emotional situations have been recognized by researchers for a long time. Increased breathing rates and patters are associated with heightened arousal and stress. Levels of anxiety affect respiration, and immediate respiratory responses to startling or unexpected events have been explored by researchers for a long time. Because of this, respiration is another valuable tool to marketers who want to measure an unconscious biometric to better understand a viewer’s emotional response to an ad.
3. Galvanic Skin Response (GSR)
GSR measures the electrical conductivity of the largest organ in the human body: the skin. Through the hands of participants, researchers have been using GSR to measure an individual’s stress and anxiety levels. GSR has also been used as a method of lie detection. This method can also detect sweat gland activity in response to emotional stimuli. Research has shown GSR responds to a variety of emotions, including fear and anger.
4. Muscle Activity
Micro muscle movements in the face are one area researchers are exploring. Facial electromyography (EMG) measures the muscle activity in two select groups of facial muscles, and these measurements are used to determine emotional response. Electrodes attached to the face are able to measure even the micro muscle movements, perhaps lending an insightful look into the unconscious emotional responses.
5. Brain Activity
By using electroencephalography (EEG) or fMRI technology, researchers are able to determine which parts of the brain are activated while a participant is viewing a specific advertisement. Previous research has already connected certain sections of the brain with specific emotions, attention level, and cognitive understanding. By tying brainwaves into market research, the participant’s subconscious, cognitive reactions can be used to shed a little more light on what exactly he or she is experiencing.
6. Oculometric Data
Oculometric data is one of the newest biometrics available to researchers today. Eye tracking has been associated with simply following an individual’s gaze pattern and, though this can be a valuable look into his or her cognitive state, it is more commonly used as a means of observing where a participant is looking. However, eye movements are an excellent method to understanding whether or not a subject is confused, involved, or distracted. Also, measuring oculometric data about pupil dilation is an excellent means to determine arousal and involvement.
These biometrics are an invaluable resource to researchers determined to better understand a participant’s emotional response to marketing material. They also may be able to play a key role in other studies that focus on emotion and subconscious reactions. The growing field of biometrics has promising potential for research exploration.