Researchers measure brain waves and skin current to predict emotions

By our African Marketing Confederation News Team | 2024

Marketing academics want to find ways to more accurately predict consumer reactions and preferences.

Machines still can’t think, but now they can validate your feelings. This is according to new research by Assistant Professor Jorge Fresneda from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the US.


He studies how measurements of brain activity and skin conductance can predict a person’s emotions with high accuracyand how this information can be used in fields such as entertainment, management, marketing and well-being.

Photo by Meo from Pexels


Neuromarketing is a sub-field within marketing that uses sensors for marketing purposes, to inform managers and make better marketing decisions,” Fresneda explains. He collaborated with several other academics to publish a paper entitled ‘Neuromarketing Techniques to Enhance Consumer Preference Prediction’ at the 57th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences recently. 


Currently, most marketing research relies on people self-reporting their responses to anything from the prices of sale items to high-impact TV advertisements. 


But Fresneda found that if you add electroencephalograms (EEG) probes, which detect brain waves, and galvanic skin response (GSR) sensors, which measure electrical conductance, then you can predict people’s feelings about marketing stimuli with greater accuracy than their own self-reporting. 


According to Fresneda, one of the most impressive sensor networks could be used at American Dream, an entertainment and retail centre near the city of East Rutherford in the US.  


Capable of linking various consumer data points 


Although not fully in use, it is potentially capable of collecting GSR data from smart devices, or from radio-frequency data transmitted by smart shopping bags, and linking that information to people’s social media profiles. 


At a demonstration for retail store managers, Fresneda reported that opinions were mixed. While most appreciated the technology’s potential to provide feedback to retailers on their own performance, there were strong concerns around privacy.  


As a consumer, Fresneda said he would be willing to wear such technology, since most shoppers already allow companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook to track them. 


“If I get value in return, yes, of course. But you have to show me,” he said. “Otherwise, I would be legitimately scared.” 


According to the paper resented at the Hawaii conference, the same algorithms can be used to quantify emotional reactions such as calmness or fear. These can then can potentially measure people’s reactions to various emotionally charged marketing experiences. 


“Future research could use the same algorithm to anticipate … choices of consumers for different kinds of products, as well as in new product development,” the paper states.  


“Moreover, the same neural analytics could be applied to tracking people’s emotional states in other contexts – including customer satisfaction, worker satisfaction, or even employee productivity tracking.” 


Fresneda and his colleagues are now working on a follow-up journal article, based on applying the technology to fields such as consumer-oriented finance. 


You can find out more about the paper here. 

Dr Kin Kariisa

Group CEO - Next Media

Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

  • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
  • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
  • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
  • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.