Context Dependent Valuation. A neuroscientific perspective on consumer decision-making
People often use contextual information as reference points to determine the desirability of an outcome. These contextual cues can strongly impact our attitudes and behavior toward an outcome, even if this information is not directly related to the outcome itself. This dissertation takes an interdisciplinary approach to study how different types of contextual information can increase the desirability of anticipated outcomes and thereby influence common, everyday, (consumer) behaviors. As measuring implicit decision-making processes can be challenging, neuroscientific methodology can provide valuable insights. Across three empirical chapters, this research examines how the brain evaluates contextual information prior to deciding on a subsequent course of action, by combining theory and methodology from consumer behavior and neuroscience. Specifically, behavioral tasks are combined with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) methodology to study the neural processes underlying goal-directed behavior, the neural mechanisms of variety seeking in a consumer choice context, and the neural responses to ad appeals. This dissertation demonstrates how an interdisciplinary research approach can facilitate theory development and shape models of consumer decision-making. Ideas for the application of insights to marketing, user experience design, and public policy are discussed.