Suspicious minds: Exploring neural processes during exposure to deceptive advertising

Adam W. Craig, Yuliya Komarova Loureiro, Stacy Wood, Jennifer M.C. Vendemia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


When viewing advertisements, consumers must decide what to believe and what is meant to deceive. Accordingly, much behavioral research has explored strategies and outcomes of how consumers process persuasive messages that vary in perceived sincerity. New neuroimaging methods enable researchers to augment this knowledge by exploring the cognitive mechanisms underlying such processing. The current study collects neuroimaging data while participants are exposed to advertisements with differing levels of perceived message deceptiveness (believable, moderately deceptive, and highly deceptive). The functional magnetic resonance imaging data, combined with an additional behavioral study, offer evidence of two noteworthy results. First, confirming multistage frameworks of persuasion, the authors observe two distinct stages of brain activity: (1) precuneus activation at earlier stages and (2) superior temporal sulcus and temporal-parietal junction activation at later stages. Second, the authors observe disproportionately greater brain activity associated with claims that are moderately deceptive than those that are either believable or highly deceptive. These results provoke new thinking about what types of claims garner consumer attention and which consumers may be particularly vulnerable to deceptive advertising.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-372
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Deceptive advertising
  • Decision neuroscience
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Metacognition
  • Persuasion knowledge
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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