NEURO-MAPPING AND UTILITY THEORY FOR DECISION MAKING DURING FORM AND FUNCTION CONFLICTS
This work investigates how consumers make preference judgments when taking into account both product form and function. In prior work, where aesthetic preference is quantified using visual conjoint methods, aesthetic preference and functional preference were handled separately. Here we introduce a new methodology for testing the hypothesis that when consumers make decisions taking into account both a product’s form and its function they employ a more complex decision making strategy than when basing their decision on form or function alone. We believe that this strategy will involve both cognitive and emotional processes. We used a two stage conjoint analysis to develop a preference function that takes both form and function into account..
Next we developed a novel paradigm using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine what parts of the brain are primarily involved with any given tradeoff between form and function. While in the scanner, study participants were asked to make decisions between options where only form varied, where only function varied, and where form and function both varied.
Initial results suggest that choices based on products that vary in both form and function involve some unique and some common brain networks as choices based on form or function alone; most important, emotion-related regions are activated during these complex decisions where form and function are in conflict. These results demonstrate the feasibility of using fMRI to address questions about the mental processes underlying consumer decisions.
Primary Researcher: BRIAN SYLCOTT