Researchers at the Center for Applied Research in Decision Making focuses on the appropriate and efficient use of methodologies like eye tracking, facial coding, facial electromyography, skin conductance, heart rate, EEG and fMRI to illuminate decision making processes.

Neuroscience for Business

CARD seeks to leverage recent developments across multiple neurophysiological methodologies to address real-world business problems in the fields of Marketing, Management and Information Systems. In a pioneering study funded by Advertising Research Foundation, Dr. Vinod Venkatraman and colleagues demonstrated that activation in ventral striatum, a key region in the brain that tracks rewards and desirability, was the strongest predictor of market-level advertising elasticity beyond traditional self-report measures. Recently, researchers at the center have been working with the United States Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General on a series of projects evaluating the relative effectiveness of print and digital advertising for branding.

Featured Researcher(s): Vinod Venkatraman


Strategic Decision Making and Preferences

What happens between viewing a set of options and committing to a decision? CARD uses eye tracking and MouseLab to understand variability in these decision strategies within and across individuals. CARD’s research shows that people can use different decision strategies, and how they choose a given strategy depends on the decision environment, their prior experiences with similar problems and individual differences in capabilities and attitudes. CARD also sought to understand how these strategies extend to real-world decisions in the domain of consumer finance, environmental decision making and sustainability. Insights from this research can be used to develop nudges for improving consumer welfare.

Featured Researcher(s): Vinod Venkatraman and Crystal Reeck

Learn more about this research.


Emotions in Consumer Behavior

Emotions are pervasive in decision making; they signal to us that something is desirable, motivate our behaviors and reinforce our purchases. However, the mechanisms underlying how feelings shape consumer behavior remain poorly understood. Additionally, consumers are not slaves to their emotional reactions but rather can control their emotions in order to engage in more adaptive behavior. Whether deciding to enhance positive feelings in order to give to a charity or diminish negative emotions while riding out a market downturn, emotion regulation keeps self-control and emotion in balance. Neural and physiological measures give researchers at the CARD purchase on multiple aspects of emotional responses and the tension between emotion and control, allowing them to dive deeper into their applications for consumer behavior beyond traditional self-report measures.

Featured Researcher: Crystal Reeck

Learn more about this research.


Aging and Decision Preferences

The world population is graying at a fast rate, with increasing life expectancies and declining birth rates. Older adults are faced with increasingly complex decisions about retirement planning, healthcare, savings, will and estate planning and more. Teenagers, on the other hand, are at the peak of their physical health, yet there has been a spike in the morbidity and mortality during the adolescent years from largely preventable behaviors connected to risky decision making. Given the potential impact of these decisions on both the psychological well-being of the individual as well as the society, CARD seeks to understand the mechanisms through which aging affects decision making across the entire lifespan.

Featured Researcher: Vinod Venkatraman


Academic Publications

Venkatraman, V., & Reeck, C. (in press). Decision Neuroscience: fMRI Insights into Choice Processes. In Shulte-Mecklenbeck, M., Kuhberger, A., & Johnson, J. (Eds.), Handbook for Process Tracing Methods in Decision Making (2nd Edition). USA: Psychology Press.

Reeck, C., Wall, D., & Johnson, E.J. (2017). Search predicts and changes patience in intertemporal choice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114, 11890-11895.

Shaver, K.G., Schjoedt, L., Passarelli, A., & Reeck, C. (2017). The cognitive neuroscience of entrepreneurial risk: Conceptual and methodological challenges. In Day, M., Boardman, M., & Krueger, N. (Eds.), Handbook of Research Methodologies and Design in Neuro-entrepreneurship. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Ward, M., Reeck, C., & Becker, W. (2017). A brief primer on using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in entrepreneurship research. In Day, M., Boardman, M., & Krueger, N. (Eds.), Handbook of Research Methodologies and Design in Neuro-entrepreneurship. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Reeck, C., Ames, D.A., & Ochsner, K. N. (2016). The social regulation of emotion: An integrative, cross-disciplinary model. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20, 47-63.

Reeck, C., & Egner, T. (2015). Emotional Task Management: Neural correlates of switching between affective and non-affective task-sets. Social, Cognitive, & Affective Neuroscience, 10, 1045-1053.

Reeck, C., & Egner, T. (2015). Interactions between Attention and Emotion. In Arthur W. Toga (Ed.). Brain Mapping: An Encyclopedic Reference (pp. 269-274). Elsevier.

Stanton, S.J.*, Reeck, C.*, Huettel, S.A., & LaBar, K.S. (2014). Effects of induced moods on economic choices. Judgment and Decision Making, 9, 167-175.

Carter, R.M., Bowling, D.L., Reeck, C., & Huettel, S.A. (2012). A distinct role of the temporal-parietal junction in predicting socially guided decisions. Science, 337, 109-111.

Reeck, C., LaBar, K.S., & Egner, T. (2012). Neural mechanisms mediating contingent capture of attention by affective stimuli. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24(5), 1113-1126

Reeck, C., & Egner, T. (2011). Affective privilege: Asymmetric interference by emotional distracters. Frontiers in Psychology, 2(232), 1-7.

Clithero, J.A., Reeck, C., Carter, R.M., Smith, D.V., & Huettel, S.A. (2011). Nucleus accumbens mediates relative motivation for rewards in the absence of choice. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 5(87), 1-11.

Venkatraman, V. *, Ritchey, M.*, & Reeck, C.* (2009). Post-choice revaluation of hedonic preferences: Insights from functional imaging. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 3(18), 1-3.

Venkatraman, V., Dimoka, A., Pavlou, P.A., Vo, K., Hampton, W., Bollinger, B., Hershfield, H.E, Ishihara, M., and Winer, R.S. (2015). “Predicting Advertising Success Beyond Traditional Measures: New Insights from Neurophysiological Methods and Market Response Modeling.” Journal of Marketing Research, 52(4), 436-452.

Plassmann, H., Venkatraman, V., Huettel, S.A., Yoon, C. Consumer Neuroscience: Applications, Common Criticisms and Possible Solutions. Journal of Marketing Research, 52:4 (2015), 427-435.

Venkatraman, V., Dimoka, A., Vo, K., and Pavlou, P.A. (Working paper). “Relative Effectivess of Print and Digital Advertising: A Memory Perspective.” SSRN working paper series.

Martinez, D. L., Venkatraman, V., Brusoni, S., and Zollo, M. Cognitive Neurosciences and Strategic Management: Opportunities and Challenges in Tying the Knot. Advances in Strategic Management, 32 (2015), 351-370.

Venkatraman, V., Clithero, J. A, Fitzsimons, G. J. and Huettel, S. A. New Scanner Data for Brand Marketers: How Neuroscience can Help Better Understand Differences in Brand Preferences, Journal of Consumer Psychology 22:1 (2012), 143-153.

Venkatraman, V., Payne, J.W., Bettman, J.R., Luce, M.F. and Huettel, S.A. Separate Neural Mechanisms Underlie Choices and Strategic Preferences in Risky Decision Making, Neuron, 62:4(2009), 593-602.

Yoon, S., Vo, K.D., and Venkatraman, V. Variability in Decision Strategies Across Description-based and Experience-based Decision Making, Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 30:4 (2017), 951-963.

Venkatraman, V., Payne, J.W. and Huettel, S.A. An Overall Probability of Winning Heuristic for Complex Risky Decisions: Choice and Eye Fixation Evidence, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 125:2 (2014), 73-87.

Hampton. W., Alm, K., Venkatraman, V., Tehila, N., and Olson, I. Dissociable Frontrostriatal White Matter Connectivity Underlies Reward and Motor Impulsivity, NeuroImage, 150 (2017a), 336-343.

Li, R., Smith, D.V., Clithero, J.A., Venkatraman, V., Carter, R.M., and Huettel, S.A. Reason’s Enemy is Not Emotion: Engagement of Cognitive Control Networks Explains Biases in Gain/loss Framing, Journal of Neuroscience 37:13 (2017), 3588-3598.

Rosenbaum, G., Venkatraman, V., Steinberg, L., Chein, J. The Influences of Described and Experienced Information on Adolescent Risky Decision Making. Developmental Review, 47 (2018), 23-43.

Industry Papers

“Advertising Effectiveness and Age,” February 25, 2019. U.S. Postal Service

“Using Mail to Build Brands,” September 5, 2018. U.S. Postal Service

“Tuned In: The Brain’s Response to Ad Sequencing,” February 13, 2017. U.S. Postal Service

“Enhancing the Value of Mail: The Human Response,” June 15, 2015. U.S. Postal Service

“The ARF “Neuro 2” Project on Predicting Advertising Success,” August 12, 2013. YouTube