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Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 1271–1284 | Cite as

Ethical Issues in Neuromarketing: “I Consume, Therefore I am!”

  • Yesim Isil Ulman
  • Tuna Cakar
  • Gokcen Yildiz
Commentary

Abstract

Neuromarketing is a recent interdisciplinary field which crosses traditional boundaries between neuroscience, neuroeconomics and marketing research. Since this nascent field is primarily concerned with improving marketing strategies and promoting sales, there has been an increasing public aversion and protest against it. These protests can be exemplified by the reactions observed lately in Baylor School of Medicine and Emory University in the United States. The most recent attempt to stop ongoing neuromarketing research in France is also remarkable. The pertaining ethical issues have been continuously attracting much attention, especially since the number of neuromarketing companies has exceeded 300 world-wide. This paper begins with a brief introduction to the field of neurotechnology by presenting its current capabilities and limitations. Then, it will focus on the ethical issues and debates most related with the recent applications of this technology. The French Parliament’s revision of rules on bioethics in 2004 has an exemplary role in our discussion. The proposal by Murphy et al. (2008) has attracted attention to the necessity of ethical codes structuring this field. A code has recently been declared by the Neuromarketing Science and Business Association. In this paper, it is argued that these technologies should be sufficiently discussed in public spheres and its use on humans should be fully carried out according to the ethical principles and legal regulations designed in line with human rights and human dignity. There is an urgent need in the interdisciplinary scientific bodies like ethics committees monitoring the research regarding the scientific and ethical values of nonmaleficence, beneficence, autonomy, confidentiality, right to privacy and protection of vulnerable groups.

Keywords

Neuromarketing Neuroscience Ethical issues Human dignity Public engagement 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Veljko Dubljevic PhD, D.Phil, for his comments on the manuscript. We also thank Catherine Bobbit MA, Botan Dolun MA, and Gizem Kavas for the native speaking language check on the text.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical History and EthicsAcibadem University School of MedicineIstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Cognitive Sciences Program, Informatics InstituteMiddle East Technical UniversityCankaya-AnkaraTurkey
  3. 3.Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Bogazici UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  4. 4.Acibadem University School of MedicineIstanbulTurkey

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