Journal of Consumer Behaviour

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Volume 7 Issue 4‐5 (July ‐ October 2008), Pages 263-419

Neuroethics of neuromarketing (pages 293-302)


  • Neuromarketing is upon us. Companies are springing up to offer their clients brain‐based information about consumer preferences, purporting to bypass focus groups and other marketing research techniques on the premise that directly peering into a consumer's brain while viewing products or brands is a much better predictor of consumer behavior. These technologies raise a range of ethical issues, which fall into two major categories: (1) protection of various parties who may be harmed or exploited by the research, marketing, and deployment of neuromarketing and (2) protection of consumer autonomy if neuromarketing reaches a critical level of effectiveness. The former is straightforward. The latter may or may not be problematic depending upon whether the technology can be considered to so effectively manipulate consumer behavior such that consumers are not able to be aware of the subversion. We call this phenomenon stealth neuromarketing. Academics and companies using neuromarketing techniques should adopt a code of ethics, which we propose here, to ensure beneficent and non‐harmful use of the technology in consideration of both categories of ethics concerns.

Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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