Dr Maarten Boksem

Maarten Boksem

Associate Professor of Marketing Management
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)
Erasmus University Rotterdam

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Profile

I have a broad interest in human behaviour and in how the brain orchestrates this behaviour. My current research topics range from the decoding of psychological processes from the brain, to investigating brain responses with naturalistic stimuli (movies), to the neural underpinnings of cheating and deception, and to the role of context in decision-making. Past lines of research include the role of hormones in behaviour and brain processes, the neural substates of emotions, goal-directed motivation and their control, performance monitoring and the impact of fatigue on cognition. I will briefly outline these research lines below.

Decoding psychological processes from the brain

The human psyche pretty much remains a black box: we can observe or even manipulate the input a person’s psychological system receives, but not the feelings or cognitive processes that are evoked by this input. Likewise, we can observe the decisions made by the system, but not the feelings or cognitive processes that drove these decisions. In this line of research, we decode these latent processes or states from the brain, using machine learning methods applied to distributed pattern of brain activity.

For example, in two studies (one using EEG, and one using fMRI), we presented participants with video content while measuring activity from their brains. Using machine learning, we trained classifiers to accurately decode the emotional experience evoked by these videos in our participants. As another example, in every-day life we observe large differences in honesty and fairness across individuals. In a set of two studies (using fMRI), we decode idiosyncrasies in the underlying motivations for honesty and fairness. We find that particularly individual differences in the engagement of cognitive control and theory of mind drive differences in prosocial behaviour.

Brains at the movies

In the past, research in neuroscience has used decontextualized stimuli and highly artificial experimental designs to study the neural substrate of cognitive processes. Although this approach has been very successful, as it allows for tightly controlled experiments and straightforward interpretation of results, it has left open the question of how the brain responds to events in more naturalistic settings. In this line of research, we address this issue by investigating how brain processes unfold during movie watching.

We find that we can track emotions, engagement and preference that follow the narrative of the presented videos. In addition, we observe that we can not only predict how well individual participants will like the movie they are watching, but also how well others will like this movie. That is, we can predict, from brain activity measured during movie-watching in a small set of participants, to what extent a different set of participants will like this movie, and even estimate how well the movie will do at the box office.

Cheating, unfairness and deception

Dishonest behaviour, such as tax evasion, music piracy or fraud, is highly prevalent in our society and inflicts huge economic costs. Every day, we are faced with the conflict between the temptation to cheat and deceive for financial gains and maintaining a positive image of ourselves as being a ‘good person’. In this line of research, we investigate the psychological and neural underpinnings of decisions to either cheat and deceive, or to remain fair and honest.

We find that particularly individual differences in the engagement of cognitive control and theory of mind drive decisions to be fair and honest (or not). For example, in one study we found that cognitive control may override an individual’s moral default, allowing honest people to cheat, whereas it enables cheaters to be honest. These insights contribute to a deeper understanding of individual differences in honesty and may aid in developing more targeted interventions aiming at reducing dishonesty.

Professional experience

Associate Professor

Erasmus University Rotterdam
RSM - Rotterdam School of Management
Department of Marketing Management

Publications

Key Publications (7)

Professional Publications (3)

Scholarly Publications (48)

Work in Progress

  • S.P.H. Speer & M.A.S. Boksem (2019). Decoding fairness motivations from multivariate brain activity patterns. In Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience . Oxford University Press

Recognition

Editorial positions

  • Frontiers in Cognition

    Editor

Media

Media items

  • ALL IN THE MIND?

  • Hersenscans laten zien of een video ons boeit

    Ale Smidts, Maarten Boksem and Hang-Yee Chan have measured how our brains respond to TV commercials. It appears that the brains of different people react identically when they see exciting videos, according to their research....

  • Hersenscans tonen aan of een video ons boeit

    Research regarding emotional storytelling conducted by Ale Smidts, Maarten Boksem and Hang-Yee Chan has been mentioned in an article. Their research indicated that brain activity of different people is often identical when they...

  • [Onderzoek] Boeiende video genereert vergelijkbare reacties in de hersenen

    Research conducted by Maarten Boksem, Ale Smidts and Hang-Yee Chang regarding emotional storytelling has been mentioned in an article.

  • [Onderzoek] Hersenscans laten zien of een video ons boeit

    Ale Smidts, Maarten Boksem and Hang-Yee Chan have measured how our brains respond to TV commercials. It appears that the brains of different people react identically when they see exciting videos, according to their research....

  • Hersenonderzoek: een emotioneel filmpje mét een verhaal boeit het meest

    Ale Smidts, Maarten Boksem and Hang-Yee Chan have measured how our brains respond to TV commercials. It appears that the brains of different people react identically when they see exciting videos, according to their research....

  • WAAROM WE BEPAALDE FILMPJES BOEIEND VINDEN

    If we find a trailer or an advertisement fascinating, then our brains show the same pattern, according to researchers from RSM. We are mainly stimulated in the brain areas that are associated with the processing of emotions and...

  • Using AI to Track Emotional Experiences

    An article that discusses new research conducted by Esther Eijlers, Maarten Boksem and Ale Smidts of RSM into Artificial Intelligence, more specifically on how human emotions may be tracked and measured. The innovative new method...

  • [Onderzoek] ‘Erasmus University (RSM) heeft een algoritme ontwikkeld om emotionele ervaringen van klanten te meten’

    An article that discusses new research conducted by Esther Eijlers, Maarten Boksem and Ale Smidts of RSM into Artificial Intelligence, more specifically on how human emotions may be tracked and measured. The innovative new method...

  • USING AI TO TRACK EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCES

    An article that discusses the research conducted by Esther Eijlers, Maarten Boksem and Ale Smidts of RSM suggesting that AI may be used to track emotional experiences.

  • Emotionele ervaringen van klanten meten met EEG

    An article that discusses new research conducted by Esther Eijlers, Maarten Boksem and Ale Smidts of RSM into Artificial Intelligence, more specifically on how human emotions may be tracked and measured. The innovative new method...

  • Wetenschappers RSM Erasmus ontwikkelen EEG-emotie-meter

    An article that discusses new research conducted by Esther Eijlers, Maarten Boksem and Ale Smidts of RSM into Artificial Intelligence, more specifically on how human emotions may be tracked and measured. The innovative new method...

  • Met 62 elektroden emoties meten voor betere reclameboodschappen

    Esther Eijlers, Maarten Boksem and Ale Smidts from RSM say that they have now developed a new method that measure emotions in the brain in real time and monitored with the help of electroencephalography (EEG). According to the...

  • EMOTIES VOORSPELLEN MET ALGORITME VAN HERSENSIGNALEN

    An article that discusses research conducted by Ale Smidts, Maarten Boksem and Esther Eijlers of RSM on EEG.

  • [Onderzoek] Emotionele ervaringen van klanten meten met EEG

    An article that discusses new research conducted by Esther Eijlers, Maarten Boksem and Ale Smidts of RSM into Artificial Intelligence, more specifically on how human emotions may be tracked and measured. The innovative new method...

  • Meekijken in het hoofd van de consument: het kan nu

    An article that discusses new research conducted by Esther Eijlers, Maarten Boksem and Ale Smidts of RSM into Artificial Intelligence, more specifically on how human emotions may be tracked and measured. The innovative new method...

  • Inzicht krijgen in emoties met nieuwe EEG-methode

    Ale Smidts, Maarten Boksem and Esther Eijlers of RSM have developed a method whereby emotions in the brain can be measured directly with the help of EEG. This method is discussed in the article

  • Machine learning technology allows us to track emotional experiences

    Human emotions can now be tracked and measured, according to research from RSM. Developed by Ester Eijlers, Maarten Boksem and Ale Smidts of RSM, the innovative new method uses electroencephalography (EEG) to chart emotional...

  • Machine learning technology allows us to track emotional experiences

    An article that discusses new research conducted by Esther Eijlers, Maarten Boksem and Ale Smidts of RSM into Artificial Intelligence, more specifically on how human emotions may be tracked and measured. The innovative new method...

  • Machine learning could soon be capable of tracking human emotion

    It may now be possible to utilise machine learning to successfully track how someone feels. Researchers from RSM have developed a new method to track and measure emotions in the brain using electroencephalography (EEG), a way of...

  • 8 nieuwe wetenschappelijke inzichten voor je (e-mail)marketing

    The SWOCC symposium presents researches studying the basic operation of commercial communications. One of the presenters is Maarten Boksem studying brain activity patterns explicitly associated with emotions, which of course...

  • Voorspelt EEG filmsucces?

    The research of Maarten Boksem and Ale Smidts regarding neuroimaging technologies, such as EEG machines can reveal information that is not obtainable through conventional marketing surveys. How well could these results predict the...

Discovery items

Brain scans reveal engagement levels of videos

What if we could predict when consumers would strongly engage with videos by analysing the neural activity in their brains?

Tracking emotions real time in the brain

Being able to accurately measure emotional experiences can serve many practical purposes. Firms can see if their product has the intended emotional effect on people.

Identifying strong brands in the brain

Marketeers no longer only have to rely on what consumers tell them about brand perception. We can now see it in the brain.

Brain scans reveal what makes a TV advert effective

Adverts are most effective when they highlight a product’s functional benefits, but also trigger the viewer’s imagination.

Can brain responses to movie trailers predict success?

Decades of research have shown that much of our mental processing occurs at the subconscious level, including the decisions we make as consumers.

Courses

Specialization Module on Consumer Behavior

  • Study year: 2019/2020, 2017/2018, 2016/2017, 2015/2016
  • Code: BERMASC039
  • ECTS: 3 Level: Master

Neuroeconomics: how the brain decides

  • Study year: 2019/2020, 2018/2019, 2017/2018, 2016/2017, 2015/2016, 2014/2015, 2013/2014
  • Code: BKBMIN018
  • Level: Bachelor, Bachelor 3, Bachelor 3

Neuromarketing

  • Study year: 2019/2020, 2018/2019, 2017/2018, 2016/2017, 2015/2016
  • Code: BMME057
  • ECTS: 6 Level: Master, Master, Master, Master

Past courses

Neuromarketing

  • Study year: 2014/2015, 2013/2014
  • Code: RSMME052
  • ECTS: 6 Level: Master

Topics in Consumer Behavior (3): Advances in Consumer Neuroscience

  • Study year: 2013/2014
  • Code: BERMASC025
  • ECTS: 5 Level: Master

Award

  • Fellowship - ERIM early career talent programme (2010)