Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Packaging Science

Advisor

Hurley, Rupert R

Committee Member

Hurley , Rupert R

Committee Member

Tonkin , Chip

Committee Member

Daily , Shaundra B

Committee Member

Duchowski , Andrew T

Abstract

The validity of electrodermal activity is investigated in the context of packaging design evaluation as a sensitive measure of arousal. Analysts agree that purchasing decisions are subconscious and emotional decisions, contrasted against the popular belief that consumers make purely rational decisions. To understand the personal and rapid character of a consumer's purchasing decisions we must find methods of which to measure and interpret consumer reactions to various packaging designs. Focus groups are discussed as antiquated research methods and new, advanced technologies are outlined as physiological responses. Past literature displays methodological approaches to using electrodermal activity measures in consumer studies, however these studies observe participants outside of the shopping context.
This thesis argues that the behavior found in a traditional lab setting is not indicative of true consumer behavior experienced in the shopping context. Through utilizing electrodermal activity within the realistic shopping environment, designers can attempt to better collect and interpret a consumer's preference towards a packaging design. This physiological approach to packaging design evaluation proposes a methodology for collecting and interpreting electrodermal activity to better match the consumer behavior discussed by marketing professionals.
The findings of an additional post-pilot study indicate that, at this time, there is not enough research available to disregard electrodermal activity as a tool for packaging designers. Significance is found with the use of the Self Assessment Manikin as an aid to qualify the use of the emotional stimuli presented. No significance is found in the reporting of electrodermal activity and eye tracking data from the full-scale study. While a shopping context will produce natural, subconscious reactions to packaging, the quick and non-linear movements of consumers make recording and understanding these reactions very difficult. Before a complete dissociation between packaging design evaluation and electrodermal activity is formed, it is recommended that researchers closely parallel the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and physiology in order to understand the benefits of updated measures of emotion. A visual concept is introduced as a method of triangulating measures from the exports of electrodermal activity, eye tracking, and self-report measures. Parameters are recorded throughout this thesis to document a foundation for future research in the field of consumer emotions, highlighting the struggles and successes of measuring one's physiological responses. A general theme is established in hopes that it will endure with future research, stating that true reactions are captured in true contextual frames.

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