Although traditional economic and psychological theories imply that individual choice best scales to aggregate choice, primary components of choice reflected in neural activity may support even more generalizable forecasts. Crowdfunding represents a significant and growing platform for funding new and unique projects, causes, and products. To test whether neural activity could forecast market-level crowdfunding outcomes weeks later, 30 human subjects (14 female) decided whether to fund proposed projects described on an Internet crowdfunding website while undergoing scanning with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Although activity in both the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and medial prefrontal cortex predicted individual choices to fund on atrial-to-trial basis in the neuroimaging sample, only NAcc activity generalized to forecast market funding outcomes weeks later on the Internet. Behavioral measures from the neuroimaging sample, however, did not forecast market funding outcomes. This pattern of associations was replicated in a second study. These findings demonstrate that a subset of the neural predictors of individual choice can generalize to forecast market-level crowdfunding outcomes—even better than choice itself.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
The Journal of Neuroscience
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Genevsky, A. (Alexander), Yoon, C. (Carolyn), & Knutson, B. (2017). When brain beats behavior: Neuroforecasting crowdfunding outcomes. The Journal of Neuroscience, 37(36), 8625–8634. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1633-16.2017