Neural mechanisms of expert persuasion on willingness to pay for sugar

Ioannis Ntoumanis*, Alina Davydova, Julia Sheronova, Ksenia Panidi, Vladimir Kosonogov, Anna N. Shestakova, Iiro P. Jääskeläinen, Vasily Klucharev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: Sugar consumption is associated with many negative health consequences. It is, therefore, important to understand what can effectively influence individuals to consume less sugar. We recently showed that a healthy eating call by a health expert can significantly decrease the willingness to pay (WTP) for sugar-containing food. Here, we investigate which aspects of neural responses to the same healthy eating call can predict the efficacy of expert persuasion. Methods: Forty-five healthy participants performed two blocks of a bidding task, in which they had to bid on sugar-containing, sugar-free and non-edible products, while their electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded. In between the two blocks, they listened to a healthy eating call by a nutritionist emphasizing the risks of sugar consumption. Results: We found that after listening to the healthy eating call, participants significantly decreased their WTP for sugar-containing products. Moreover, a higher intersubject correlation of EEG (a measure of engagement) during listening to the healthy eating call resulted in a larger decrease in WTP for sugar-containing food. Whether or not a participant’s valuation of a product was highly influenced by the healthy eating call could also be predicted by spatiotemporal patterns of EEG responses to the healthy eating call, using a machine learning classification model. Finally, the healthy eating call increased the amplitude of the P300 component of the visual event-related potential in response to sugar-containing food. Disussion: Overall, our results shed light on the neural basis of expert persuasion and demonstrate that EEG is a powerful tool to design and assess health-related advertisements before they are released to the public.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1147140
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • EEG
  • expert persuasion
  • healthy eating
  • intersubject correlation
  • machine learning
  • social influence
  • sugar
  • willingness to pay


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