Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Alison Harris

Rights Information

© 2014 Megan K. Coleman


Current marketing research suggests that two separate cognitive functions, rational "brand trust" and emotional "brand affect", work independently to influence brand loyalty and in turn, consumer purchasing. Yet, this idea is at off with a growing body of neuroeconomic research, which demonstrates the role of emotion in seemingly rational decisions.Here, we examine psychological, economic, and neuroscientrific research on how, along with the stand-alone effects of brand affect, emotion may influence brand trust, illustrating how these two seemingly separate functions may work in conjunction. First, we use psychological and economic theories such as the Somatic Marker Hypothesis, Affect-as-Information Theory, and Appraisal Tendency Theory to demonstrate that emotions have a large role in decision-making. Next we describe views from behavioral economics on how human decision-makers respond to uncertainty, drawing on frameworks, such as Prospect Theory and experimental findings like the Ellsberg paradox. Experimental findings suggest that people find the unknown emotionally aversive, both for uncertainty in outcomes (risk) and the range of possible outcomes (ambiguity). Risk- and ambiguity-aversion appear to arise from separate neural systems, suggesting that brand trust can increase affect by decreasing both perceived ambiguity and risk. Finally, we examine the marketing implications of the conclusion that affect and trust are interconnected. With the new perspective gained, marketers can better understand the mutually dependent relationship of brand affect and brand trust and begin to examine ways to capitalize on the clarification.

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