Ever heard of neuromarketing? Forbes magazine characterizes it as the search for "a buy button inside the skull." BrightHouse Institute prefers to call it "Neurostrategies," and insists that their goal is not to find such a button; instead, they offer their clients (Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Met Life, and others) "More confidence and accuracy in marketing decisions through a better understanding of how the brain mediates consumer preference and purchase behavior" and "A new, powerful analytical approach & tool for learning what drives consumer behavior at a conscious and subconscious level."
Which sounds like pretty much the same thing to me.
Anyway, watchdog group Commercial Alert has asked Emory University to stop participating in this controversial line of research:
WASHINGTON - December 1 - Commercial Alert and prominent psychology experts sent a letter today to Emory University President James Wagner, requesting that Emory stop conducting neuromarketing experiments. These medical experiments on human subjects are unethical because they will likely be used to promote disease and human suffering.
If Emory University is found to have violated federal ethics rules regarding experiments on human subjects, it may lose its federal research funding.
Neuromarketing is a controversial new field of marketing which uses functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) – a medical technology -- not to heal, but to sell products. A BrightHouse Institute for Thought Sciences news release issued June 22, 2002 explains that it uses fMRI “to identify patterns of brain activity that reveal how a consumer is actually evaluating a product, object or advertisement. Thought Sciences marketing analysts use this information to more accurately measure consumer preference, and then apply this knowledge to help marketers better create products and services and to design more effective marketing campaigns.”
The BrightHouse Institute’s neuromarketing experiments are conducted in the neuroscience wing of the Emory University Hospital....