Analyzing motivating functions of consumer behavior: Evidence from attention and neural responses to choices and consumption

Academia and business have shown an increased interest in using neurophysiological methods, such as eye-tracking and electroencephalography (EEG), to assess consumer motivation. The current research contributes to this literature by verifying whether these methods can predict the effects of antecedent events as motivating functions of attention, neural responses, choice, and consumption. Antecedent motivational factors are discussed, with a specific focus on deprivation as such a situational factor. Thirty-two participants were randomly assigned to the experimental and control conditions. Water deprivation of 11-12 h was used as an establishing operation to increase the reinforcing effectiveness of water. We designed three experimental sessions to capture the complexity of the relationship between antecedents and consumer behavior. Experimental manipulations in session 1 established the effectiveness of water for the experimental group and abolished it for the control group. Results from session 2 show that participants in the experimental group had significantly higher average fixation duration for the image of water. Their frontal asymmetry did not provide significant evidence of greater left frontal activation toward the water image. Session 3 demonstrated that choice and consumption behavior of the relevant reinforcer was significantly higher for participants in the experimental group. These early findings highlight the potential application of a multi-method approach using neurophysiological tools in consumer research, which provides a comprehensive picture of the functional relationship between motivating events, behavior (attention, neural responses, choice, and consumption), and consequences.