Machines learn neuromarketing: Improving preference prediction from self-reports using multiple EEG measures and machine learning

Adam Hakim*, Shira Klorfeld, Tal Sela, Doron Friedman, Maytal Shabat-Simon, Dino J. Levy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A basic aim of marketing research is to predict consumers’ preferences and the success of marketing campaigns at the population-level. However, traditional marketing tools have various limitations, calling for novel measures to improve predictive power. In this study, we use multiple types of measures extracted from electroencephalography (EEG) recordings and machine learning (ML) algorithms to improve preference prediction based on self-reports alone. Subjects watched video commercials of six food products as we recorded their EEG activity, after which they responded to a questionnaire that served as a self-report benchmark measure. Thereafter, subjects made binary choices over the food products. We attempted to predict within-sample and population level preferences, based on subjects’ questionnaire responses and EEG measures extracted during the commercial viewings. We reached 68.5% accuracy in predicting between subjects’ most and least preferred products, improving accuracy by 4.07 percentage points compared to prediction based on self-reports alone. Additionally, EEG measures improved within-sample prediction of all six products by 20%, resulting in only a 1.91 root mean squared error (RMSE) compared to 2.39 RMSE with questionnaire-based prediction alone. Moreover, at the population level, assessed using YouTube metrics and an online questionnaire, EEG measures increased prediction by 12.7% and 12.6% respectively, compared to only a questionnaire-based prediction. We found that the most predictive EEG measures were frontal powers in the alpha band, hemispheric asymmetry in the beta band, and inter-subject correlation in delta and alpha bands. In summary, our novel approach, employing multiple types of EEG measures and ML models, offers marketing practitioners and researchers a valuable tool for predicting individual preferences and commercials’ success in the real world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)770-791
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Research in Marketing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Consumer neuroscience
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Forecasting
  • Machine learning
  • Neuromarketing
  • Preference prediction


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