Ethical Codes


The goal of Neuromarketing is to obtain the information about how consumers' brains are functioning while facing various market stimuli. The advantage of this measurement technique is that obtained information is unaffected by consumers' biases and unwillingness to reveal the truth. There is nothing wrong in using technologies in consumer research, but the biggest problem with those used in Neuromarketing is that with these technologies researchers can observe beyond the limits that research objects might set for these tests. That is why usage of Neuromarketing raises ethical concerns that might be divided into two categories: protection of consumers' autonomy and protection of various parties that might be harmed or exploited by these researches.
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Ethical Codes

Since the majority of the market research companies are members of Neuromarketing Science and Business Association (NMSBA), the ethical code created by this association (authenticity criteria), provides the main guidelines for companies’ ethical behavior. One of the main responsibilities of NMSBA is “the contribution to the development and the implementation of international guidelines and standardization in the Neuromarketing discipline” (NMSBA Code of Ethics, 2013) . It means that the ethical code of this association was created specifically for Neuromarketing companies, taking into consideration ethical issues related only with Neuromarketing. For this reason, the NMSBA code of ethics meets the representativeness criteria perfectly. As for the credibility criteria, the fact that this code is created by the company that is not directly related with any particular researches (unbiased), but whose main interest is an honorable and ethical conduct of Neuromarketing, leads to the high credibility of this document. Furthermore, according to NMSBA website, the proposed ethical code accepts the principles enshrined in the ICC/ESOMAR code. ICC/ESOMAR are responsible for the code of Marketing and Social Research Practice. The first code was published in 1958 by ESOMAR, but in 1976 ISS and ESOMAR agreed that it would be preferable to have a single international code instead of two differing ones and a joint ICC/ESOMAR Code was published the following year 1977 (ICC/ESOMAR International Code on Market and Social Research, 2007).

ICC/ESOMAR International Code on Market and Social Research

Purpose of the Code

This Code is designed primarily as a framework for self-regulation. With this in mind, ICC/ESOMAR recommend the worldwide use of the Code, which intends to fulfill the following objectives:

  • To set out the ethical rules which market researchers shall follow;

  • To enhance the public’s confidence in market research by emphasizing the rights and safeguards to which they are entitled under this Code;

  • To emphasize the need for a special responsibility when seeking the opinions of children and young people;

  • To safeguard freedom for market researchers to seek, receive and impart information (as embodied in article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights);

  • To minimize the need for governmental and/or intergovernmental legislation or regulation.

Key Fundamentals of the Code

The Code is based on these key fundamentals:

  • 1.

    Market researchers shall conform to all relevant national and international laws.

  • 2.

    Market researchers shall behave ethically and shall not do anything which might damage the reputation of market research.

  • 3.

    Market researchers shall take special care when carrying out research among children and young people.

  • 4.

    Respondents’ cooperation is voluntary and must be based on adequate, and not misleading, information about the general purpose and nature of the project when their agreement to participate is being obtained and all such statements shall be honoured.

  • 5.

    The rights of respondents as private individuals shall be respected by market researchers and they shall not be harmed or adversely affected as the direct result of cooperating in a market research project.

  • 6.

    Market researchers shall never allow personal data they collect in a market re- search project to be used for any purpose other than market research.

  • 7.

    Market researchers shall ensure that projects and activities are designed, carried out, reported and documented accurately, transparently and objectively.

  • 8.

    Market researchers shall conform to the accepted principles of fair competition.

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