The Epistemist

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“Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness”.

May 14th, 2008 · No Comments · psychology, research

   I have just come across an interesting study that seeks to demonstrate that the price of wine has a physical impact on people’s enjoyment of it. Stanford and CalTech researchers discovered that the volunteers not only thought  the more expensive wine tasted better, but they actually experienced more pleasure when drinking it: the scientists were able to see the change in the brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for pleasure. So the subjects were not just being wine snobs by claiming to enjoy expensive wine more, but they actually were enjoying it more. Of course, the sneaky researchers mislabeled the wine and the $90 bottle was used twice – as the $90 sample and as the $10 sample. This is all well and good, and the experiment is very clever, but the subjects were students, and the sophistication of their palate would at best allow them to tell a Corona from a Guinness, if that!  So we now know that the students are easily manipulated by marketers…what a surpirise!


             Plassmann, H., O’Doherty, J., Shiv, B., & Rangel, A. (2008). Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(3), 1050-1054


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