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Liu, Yi; Zang, Xuelian; Chen, Lihan; Assumpção, Leonardo; Li, Hong (January 2018): Vicariously Touching Products through Observing Others’ Hand Actions Increases Purchasing Intention, and the Effect of Visual Perspective in This Process: An fMRI Study. In: Human Brain Mapping, Vol. 39, No. 1: pp. 332-343
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The growth of online shopping increases consumers' dependence on vicarious sensory experiences, such as observing others touching products in commercials. However, empirical evidence on whether observing others' sensory experiences increases purchasing intention is still scarce. In the present study, participants observed others interacting with products in the first‐ or third‐person perspective in video clips, and their neural responses were measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We investigated (1) whether and how vicariously touching certain products affected purchasing intention, and the neural correlates of this process; and (2) how visual perspective interacts with vicarious tactility. Vicarious tactile experiences were manipulated by hand actions touching or not touching the products, while the visual perspective was manipulated by showing the hand actions either in first‐ or third‐person perspective. During the fMRI scanning, participants watched the video clips and rated their purchasing intention for each product. The results showed that, observing others touching (vs. not touching) the products increased purchasing intention, with vicarious neural responses found in mirror neuron systems (MNS) and lateral occipital complex (LOC). Moreover, the stronger neural activities in MNS was associated with higher purchasing intention. The effects of visual perspectives were found in left superior parietal lobule (SPL), while the interaction of tactility and visual perspective was shown in precuneus and precuneus‐LOC connectivity. The present study provides the first evidence that vicariously touching a given product increased purchasing intention and the neural activities in bilateral MNS, LOC, left SPL and precuneus are involved in this process.