Neuromarketing and The Hollywood Story Machine
Asking people why they liked a movie, book, or piece of art is generally an ineffective way to find out what they are thinking. People don’t have very good information about why they like something because, as human beings, we don’t have very good access to our brains. But before now there hasn’t been an alternative. That may change.
The Guardian has an article on “neuromarketing” which describes (at a very high level) the work of Steven Quartz, from CalTech:
In his laboratory, Quartz uses functional brain imaging, or fMRI, to measure humans’ responses to such classics as Casablanca. “Essentially, people are placed inside an enormous magnet,” he says. “And then we look to see small changes in blood flow. It’s a way of tapping, in a totally non-invasive way, into brain activity.”
The moneymen in LA were quick to lease his technique. More money was in prospect – and safer money. As Quartz points out, the margin of profit for the industry is “somewhere in the area of 4%”. They need all the help they can get.
Quartz says that
“…brain science is really beginning to explore the relationship between objective measures and subjective measures of things like taste and preferences,” he replies. “When we make a decision there are, of course, conscious components in play. But it turns out that our brain is also tracking a lot of things that we may not be consciously aware of.”