How Can Neuroscience Explain Our Attachment To Consumer Items? Interview with:

Tamara Masters, PhD Marketing Marriott School of Management Brigham Young University

Dr. Masters

Tamara Masters, PhD
Marriott School of Management
Brigham Young University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: As a marketing professor I have studied the disparity of what people are willing to sell items/products for and how much that differs from how much others are willing to pay.

I do research in consumer decision making and find the neurophysiological aspects of consumers fascinating.  I read medical and neuroscience research for fun and see many ways individuals may be effected in the use of their limited resources.  We are all consumers – many make purchases of some type daily – even it if it is to play online games or where and how to get our next meal.

The main findings relate to how a person is either attached to or feels an aversion to losing an object.  There has been debate as to which of these factors leads to a difference in buy and selling prices.  This research provides a new and unique look at how BOTH factors must be present for this disparity to emerge.  This research is unique because it uses combines the fields neuroscience, psychology and economics to explain something we all experience. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Understanding a neurological and psychological link may explain many studies in behavioral economics that have opposing results.  All of the studies appear to be correct, given different conditions of the person making the decisions.  Consumers should try and be aware of how much they are attached to items and how much they are averse to losing them when they find they can’t sell something. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: There are different directions to go with this.  Primarily, researchers of consumer decision making can take a multidisciplinary approach and gain new insights.  Those in medical research and practice may want to be aware that they are not treating the body alone – but a person making consumption decisions that may be effected by their neurological and medical conditions as they interact with their decision making process’. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: All individuals are consumers in some form and all individuals have physiological and neurological ‘conditions’ that may bias them.  These biases are often unrecognized.  This is an exciting intersection of disciplines to work in. I look forward to understanding more about how health and neurological systems effect how individuals choose to use their resources. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Tamara Masters, Arul Mishra, Himanshu Mishra. Phantom Limb and a New Approach to Understanding the WTA–WTP Disparity.. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, 2017; DOI: 10.1037/npe0000072

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.


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Last Updated on October 17, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD