Dr Cluley presents this study exploring the quantification of consumer responses in facial coding data.

Wednesday 22 January 2020
Dr Robert Cluley, Nottingham University Business School


This study asks how a method for understanding emotions that was rejected by mainstream psychology for over century has re-emerged as a popular method for shaping markets in contemporary marketing. Reading ethnographic, history and technical datasets through the lens of Callon’s sociology translation, the paper argues that facial coding data works because it shifts the work of quantification from humans to computers.

Through this it appears to be more objective and factual. Yet, in practice, marketers give meaning to the data in ways that are influenced by meeting their own needs as well as the interests and expectations of their clients, as much as a desire to understand consumers—turning plain old numbers into interesting numbers. The paper argues, accordingly, that we cannot understand quantitative business practice without an account of the interests the numbers are put into service for and, vice versa, we can better understand the interests of business by understanding the numbers businesses use.

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