I recently had a chance to pick the brain of David Lewis-Hodgson, D.Phil. about shopping. Although he did not coin the term, Dr. Lewis is considered to be the father of neuromarketing, essentially, the study of the human brain on shopping.
In the early ‘80s, while working in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Sussex in England, he performed pioneering research using EEGs to measure brain activity related to anxiety and stress. Some of the experiments involved testing people’s responses to television commercials, which he considered to be ideal examples of short, carefully structured messages. The BBC and several advertising publications featured his work, and thus neuromarketing was born.
Today, he runs Mindlab International in Sussex, which uses the same laboratory at the university that is now equipped with much more sophisticated technology and analytical software that he has developed. His team of research scientists employs all kinds of high-tech neurometrix (the science of recording and analyzing human responses to sensory stimuli) gadgetry, such as brain scanners that resemble swimming caps for ET and cool sunglasses that scan eye movements.
Sometimes the test subjects are actually shopping in a store, sometimes in a more easily controlled virtual environment in the lab. By recording the biometric responses of the brain, eye, and muscles while the person is shopping, the Mindlab scientists study how effectively marketing practices stimulate people to spend money.
Fortunately, he’s also able to distill it all into a couple of basic concepts that you need to protect yourself against exorbitant and unnecessary purchases.