Graduation Year

2019

Date of Submission

12-2018

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Neuroscience

Reader 1

Alison Harris

Reader 2

Paul Zak

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

2018 Nina S Rathi

Abstract

With the growth of fashion consumption through websites and e-tailers, the question of when and why consumers engage in shopping without the intent to purchase has gained new relevance. A novel framework for understanding this phenomenon comes from studies examining the neural basis of aesthetic appreciation. Previous studies in neuroaesthetics have identified brain regions associated with value and reward, including the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC), as involved during attractiveness judgments even when no physical product is consumed. Along with research demonstrating that attractive stimuli can serve as economic incentives to motivate behavior, these results suggest that the experience of aesthetic appreciation can have value in and of itself, similar to the hedonic value previously proposed to explain shopping without the intent to purchase. The proposed study examines whether fashion browsing can be considered a type of aesthetic experience. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) will be used to measure neural activation as female subjects (N=50) view fashion images. If fashion browsing is a type of aesthetic experience, we would expect it serve as an economic incentive and motivate work. Additionally, the NAcc and VMPFC during browsing should show increasing activation with increasing attractiveness of fashion content. Individual differences in self-reported fashion browsing behavior will correlate with the degree of neural differentiation to fashion content such that individuals who spend more time per week browsing will have higher BOLD signal NAcc and VMPFC activation during the experimental task. Fashion browsing as an aesthetic experience could serve as a crucial mechanism to develop a greater understanding of an important aspect of the consumer shopping experience.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.

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