To read this content please select one of the options below:

Trust me if you can – neurophysiological insights on the influence of consumer impulsiveness on trustworthiness evaluations in online settings

Marco Hubert (Department of Management, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
Mirja Hubert (Independent Researcher, Berlin, Germany)
Marc Linzmajer (Institute of Retail Management, University Sankt Gallen, Sankt Gallen, Switzerland)
René Riedl (University of Applied Sciences, Upper Austria, Austria and University of Linz, Linz, Austria)
Peter Kenning (Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 31 January 2018

Issue publication date: 20 February 2018




The purpose of this study is to examine how consumer personality trait impulsiveness influences trustworthiness evaluations of online-offers with different trust-assuring and trust-reducing elements by measuring the brain activity of consumers. Shoppers with high degrees of impulsiveness are referred to as hedonic shoppers, and those with low degrees are referred to as prudent consumers.


To investigate the differences between neural processes in the brains of hedonic and prudent shoppers during the trustworthiness evaluation of online-offers, the present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and region-of-interest analysis to correlate neural activity patterns with behavioral measures of the study participants.


Drawing upon literature reviews on the neural correlates of both trust in online settings and consumer impulsiveness and using an experimental design that links behavioral and fMRI data, the study shows that consumer impulsiveness can exert a significant influence on the evaluation of online-offers. With regard to brain activation, both groups (hedonic and prudent shoppers) exhibit similar neural activation tendencies, but differences exist in the magnitude of activation patterns in brain regions that are closely related to trust and impulsiveness such as the dorsal striatum, anterior cingulate, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula cortex.

Research limitations/implications

The data provide evidence that consumers within the hedonic group evaluate online-offers differently with regard to their trustworthiness compared to the prudent group, and that these differences in evaluation are rooted in neural activation differences in the shoppers’ brains.

Practical implications

Marketers need to be made aware of the fact that neurological insights can be used for market segmentation, because consumers’ decision-making processes help explain behavioral outcomes (here, trustworthiness evaluations of online-offers). In addition, consumers can learn from an advanced understanding of their brain functions during decision-making and their relation to personal traits such as impulsiveness.


Considering the importance of trust in online shopping, as well as the fact that personality traits such as impulsiveness influence the purchase process to a high degree, this study is the first to systematically investigate the interplay of online trustworthiness perceptions and differences in consumer impulsiveness with neuroscientific methods.



This paper forms part of a special section on Neuromarketing.

The authors thank the editors and reviewers for their valuable input during the different stages of the review process. Furthermore, the authors also thank participants of the International Conference of Information Systems 2014 for their comments and remarks on a preliminary working paper of this version.


Hubert, M., Hubert, M., Linzmajer, M., Riedl, R. and Kenning, P. (2018), "Trust me if you can – neurophysiological insights on the influence of consumer impulsiveness on trustworthiness evaluations in online settings", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 52 No. 1/2, pp. 118-146.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles