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Measuring consumer neural activation to differentiate cognitive processing of advertising: Revisiting Krugman

Terry Daugherty (Department of Marketing, College of Business Administration, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)
Ernest Hoffman (PRADCO, Columbus, Ohio, USA)
Kathleen Kennedy (Department of Retailing and Consumer Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA)
Megan Nolan (Department of Psychology, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 24 January 2018

Issue publication date: 20 February 2018




Herbert Krugman (1971) was among the first marketing scholars to utilize electroencephalography (EEG) to examine advertising. However, nearly five decades have transpired since this innovative research, making it potentially valuable to use a modern-day approach to reproduce a first-generation neuromarketing study. Thus, the purpose of this study is to replicate and extend Krugman’s original work.


To measure participants’ neural activity, two within-subject experiments were conducted to test the effectiveness of advertising using EEG. Independent factors, as defined by Krugman (1971), were three national brand ads differentiated by their level of effectiveness (high/low) associated with recall and arousal.


Results from Study 1 largely support Krugman’s original findings, in that an inverse relationship is observed among brain waves (beta, theta and alpha) across multiple exposures and levels. Meaning, similar patterns of activation and dissipation occur regardless of ad type or frequency. Findings from Study 2 were successful in accomplishing what Krugman originally could not by distinguishing between the ads utilizing an event-related potential (ERP) design.


This study demonstrates that a single neuromarketing approach can be used in multiple ways to provide richer insight while adding value during the research process. At the very least, the re-inquiry is an informative act associated with the theoretical relevance of using EEG measurement in marketing research.



This paper forms part of a special section on Neuromarketing.


Daugherty, T., Hoffman, E., Kennedy, K. and Nolan, M. (2018), "Measuring consumer neural activation to differentiate cognitive processing of advertising: Revisiting Krugman", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 52 No. 1/2, pp. 182-198.



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