Journal of Consumer Behaviour

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

Evolutionary neuromarketing: darwinizing the neuroimaging paradigm for consumer behavior (pages 397-414)


  • The current paper serves two purposes. First, it reviews the neuroimaging literature most relevant to the field of marketing (e.g., neuroeconomics, decision neuroscience, and neuromarketing). Second, it posits that evolutionary theory is a consilient and organizing meta‐theoretical framework for neuromarketing research. The great majority of neuroimaging studies suffer from the illusion of explanatory depth namely the sophistication of the neuroimaging technologies provides a semblance of profundity to the reaped knowledge, which is otherwise largely disjointed and atheoretical. Evolutionary theory resolves this conundrum by recognizing that the human mind has evolved via the processes of natural and sexual selection. Hence, in order to provide a complete understanding of any given neuromarketing phenomenon requires that it be tackled at both the proximate level (as is currently the case) and the ultimate level (i.e., understanding the adaptive reason that would generate a particular neural activation pattern). Evolutionary psychology posits that the human mind consists of a set of domain‐specific computational systems that have evolved to solve recurring adaptive problems. Accordingly, rather than viewing the human mind as a general‐purpose domain‐independent organ, evolutionary cognitive neuroscientists recognize that many neural activation patterns are instantiations of evolved computational systems in evolutionarily relevant domains such as survival, mating, kin selection, and reciprocity. As such, an evolutionary neuromarketing approach recognizes that the neural activation patterns associated with numerous marketing‐related phenomena can be mapped onto the latter Darwinian modules thus providing a unifying meta‐theory for this budding discipline.

Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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