Abstract: Consumers frequently make decisions about how much they are willing to pay (WTP) for specific products and services, but little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying such calculations. In this study, we were interested in testing whether specific brain activation—the asymmetry in engagement of the prefrontal cortex—would be related to consumer choice. Subjects saw products and subsequently decided how much they were willing to pay for each product, while undergoing neuroimaging using electroencephalography. Our results demonstrate that prefrontal asymmetry in the gamma frequency band, and a trend in the beta frequency band that was recorded during product viewing was significantly related to subsequent WTP responses. Frontal asymmetry in the alpha band was not related to WTP decisions. Besides suggesting separate neuropsychological mechanisms of consumer choice, we find that one specific measure—the prefrontal gamma asymmetry—was most strongly related to WTP responses, and was most coupled to the actual decision phase. These findings are discussed in light of the psychology of WTP calculations, and in relation to the recent emergence of consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing.
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