PoliMi - KIT

  • Type: seminar

INTERNATIONAL PRACTICAL SEMINAR: The physiological side of consumer behaviour: cognition, emotions, experience and how to measure them with wearable sensors.

We are pleased to present the international seminar in collaboration between Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi: https://www.polimi.it/) and Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT: https://www.kit.edu/index.php), scheduled for the first semester of 2023.

Who we are? The two research groups involved:

PoliMi: The marketing research group (Group leader: Debora Bettiga). The group conducts research in several areas of marketing, with a specific focus on:

  • neuroscience applied to the study of consumer behaviors. Here research is conducted inside PHEEL (Physiology Emotions Experience Lab) where we collect and integrate data about physiological individual responses, such as cutaneous impedance, EEG and facial micro-expressions. These techniques allow interpolating different biological data, providing a more in-depth understanding of consumer behaviors;
  • quantitative marketing: different areas are analyzed, such as data analytics for communication, analysis of user behaviour in the consumption of digital media and the use of new devices, CRM;
  • omnichannel marketing, where we study the interaction among companies and customers, with the aim of integrating and harmonizing the user experience across touchpoints, improving omnichannel and data-driven customer relationship strategies.

KIT: Digital Platforms, Markets, and Work (Group leader: Michael Knierim). The group conducts research in the following areas:

  • The main goal of the research group is the improvement of well-being and growth through the use of innovative digital technologies – both on the individual level and for society at large;
  • Detection and support of positive mental states like the flow-experience, which is associated with increased well-being, performance and growth for individuals and teams. In addition, we are exploring how simple recommendations can be used to efficiently promote flow – especially in the context of work, where such recommendations can create particular value;
  • Research on digital participation platforms. We use artificial intelligence to lower entry barriers into the research world. We are also exploring the use of adaptive mechanisms for providing information about decision outcomes on participation platforms, which could improve the acceptance and decision quality of public participation processes;
  • Research in the field of Neuroeconomics: Investigation of economic decisions making processes using methods from neuroscience like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI);
  • Methods: Experimental laboratory research in KD2Lab, field research, physiological sensors (e.g. ECG, EDA), electroencephalography (EEG), survey studies.

Topic of the seminar:

Cognitive evaluations only partially explain the consumer purchasing patterns, especially when consumers approach a product, a service or an interface for the first time. In such an encounter, consumers may rely more on emotions and perceptions, as they cannot realistically evaluate product performances. Research in cognitive neurosciences (Dehaene, Changeux, & Naccache, 2011; Lane, Nadel, Allen, & Kaszniak, 2000; Smith & Lane, 2016), focusing on the distinction between implicit and explicit processes of cognition, confirms that the implicit-explicit distinction that applies to cognition generally also applies to emotions. Affective and unconscious drivers (Bagozzi et al. 2016) proved to have a strong influence on the customer’s intention to perform a behavior, shaping customer’s decision-making processes (Bettiga and Lamberti 2017; 2018). This opens new space for investigation of these drivers for which boundaries, as well as effects on the purchase process, are still unclear (Ayadi, Paraschiv, & Vernette, 2017; De Keyser & Lariviere, 2014).

Despite the acknowledged role of physiological, unconscious reactions in shaping consumers' evaluations and behaviours, research on this issue is still in its infancy. Research in consumer neuroscience, a new discipline based on the application of neuro- and bioscience in the managerial context, helps to individuate the unconscious and emotional reactions that a product or brand arises in consumers, to forecast their behaviors. Neuromarketing collects and integrates data about physiological individual responses, such as brain signals, skin conductance, breath and heart rate or facial micro-expressions.

Thanks to this knowledge derived from these research fields, and thanks to the new technologies in continuous growth and improvement deriving from biomedical engineering, we can study the topics of our interest with greater ecological validity, thanks to "wereable sensors": tools and methods of neuro-psychophysiological measurement of cognitive and emotional states, more easily wearable, economical and portable. Among the tools supplied we can find: ECG heart rate measurement, EDA skin conductivity, eye movement with eye tracking, EEG electroencelography).

Seminar activities:

The objective of this work is to investigate the physiological side of consumer behavior, by analyzing how physiological responses may impact the decision-making process. From a managerial point of view, the research should help practitioners in designing products, services or interfaces that best suit their industry and properly target users. Students are expected to identify a specific topic of their interest inside this stream.

Students will work as a team to carry out the project. For each project there can be 2 or 4 students balanced between KIT and PoliMi students for each team.

Overall, the thesis work should include: (i) a thorough literature review (ii) the design and development of empirical research to test the research hypotheses (multiple studies are suggested), (iii) results analysis and interpretation (iv) discussion of academic, managerial and policy-makers implications (v) limitation of the study and future research.

The kick-off lesson and the final lesson with student presentations could be held in person, once in Milan and once in Karlsruhe. More information will be provided later.

Application process:

The opportunity to apply for this seminar will be provided through the portals of the two universities. The application period will be for the end of 2022 and will be requested a research project exposé (0,5-1 page). More information and details will be provided in the coming weeks.


Typology: KIT students: Practical Seminar (4 ETCS) PoliMi students: Dissertation project

Expected duration: from 4 to 9 months

Expected number of students involved for each project: 2 for each university

Maximum of project: 4

Good statistical knowledges and skills are needed.

Fluent English, both for comprehension and for written/spoken production.