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Choices in Consumer Research: Unintended Consequences Merrie Brucks Eller College of Management University of Arizona.

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Presentation on theme: "Choices in Consumer Research: Unintended Consequences Merrie Brucks Eller College of Management University of Arizona."— Presentation transcript:

1 Choices in Consumer Research: Unintended Consequences Merrie Brucks Eller College of Management University of Arizona

2 How Do YOU Choose?

3 Scholarly Literature Advisor or Mentor Substantive Problems What’s HOT Personal Relevance

4 10 Profiles of Rising Stars The Observer: October 2007 Association for Psychological Science “exemplars of today’s young psychological scientists; researchers who, although they may not be very advanced in years, have already made great advancements in science” Virginia Kwan (Princeton)Serena Chen (Berkeley) Nate Kornell(UCLA)Penny S. Visser (Chicago) Teresa Treat(Yale)Jenny Saffran (Wisconsin) David Gallo (Chicago)Eva Pomerantz (Illinois) Todd S. Braver (Wash U)Sharon Thompson-Schill (Penn)

5 Self-Research Connections “I was advised to do what interests me the most. I started with self- perception because I was most interested in “myself” “I have been fascinated by self-improvement since I was a kid” I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that reality is a mental construction… but then I took an undergraduate course on memory and realized that perception was just the tip of the iceberg for my interests.” During graduate school… I came to realize that I was most interested in the impact of relationships, past and present, on the self…That other people can play such a profound…role on shaping how we are is fascinating to me.” I’ve always had a personal interest in politics, and my focus on attitudes and attitude strength really grew out of this interest.” I grew up hearing dinner-table conversations about interesting language phenomena… Both the issues and the methods excited me then and they continue to excite me now.

6 The Problem-Solving Quest “Developing a formal, rigorous, and mechanistic answer to the question of how cognitive control arises in the mind… I find it incredibly exciting to be contributing to this quest for understanding.” “The potential of an integrative discipline of quantitative clinical-cognitive science remains largely untapped. “I was assigned to analyze data from a drug trial of a potential treatment for cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer’s disease…and I became hooked on cognitive neuroscience… As for the research questions I am drawn to now, I think they all have their roots, to some extent, in my early interest in logic and mathematics. I was drawn to this line of work because I believed it would provide the foundation for promoting positive development among children. This relatively unexplored niche fascinated me as an undergraduate.”

7 Is ACR Like Psychology? Both are sciences of human behavior But CB researchers (in Business Schools) are typically less constrained than psychologists Not expected to bring in grants with overhead budgeted Not usually affiliated with a “lab” Receive research support (summer, travel, GTA’s) for unfunded projects CB researchers are ambivalent about “relevance”  We have the freedom to pursue our own passions and interests (thankfully)

8 Anecdotal Evidence from AMA “Consumer Behavior” Doctoral Student Motivational: The self-research connection “Managerial” Doctoral Student Strategic: Importance of topic “Modeling” Doctoral Student: Blank: Why would you ask such question?

9 What Do We Study? JDM: Information processing: CCT: Autonomy,status,learning and reasoning, making an impact on the thinking of others Individuals’ learning, preferenceschoice outcomes Individualdifferences in memory,attitudes,andaffect,persuasion Power structures,agency,andfreedom What do academicians value? and

10 Agentic vs. Communal Goals in Academia Entrepreneurial approach to research Faculty “mobility” valued Faculty and their families feel temporary in their communities Compulsive working “If you choose an academic career you will need 40 hours a week to perform teaching and administrative duties, another 20 on top of that to conduct respectable research and still another 20 hours to accomplish really important research” (Edward O. Wilson 1998, as quoted by Joe Alba, ACR newsletter, June 1999) Strained family ties Doc student: “Ok, honey, just wait four years…” After the defense: “um, now another six years…” Consequences: Communal goals & behaviors less salient in faculty lives.

11 Journal Selection Processes Persistance, obsession, even masochism (Holbrook JM 1986), required by top journals Self-selection biases Gatekeeping  Journal review process accentuates the bias on research topics ACR conference is teeming with creative perspectives, presented by diverse authors Top American journals do not reflect this diversity

12 The Research Mirror “[Given the] countless thousands of insignificant decisions… made by the consumer, to assume a thinking, reasoned, attitudinally influenced decision may well be a class example of anthropomorphism.” Hal Kassarjian, ACR Presidential Address 1977 “That body of consumer knowledge that we call consumer research reflects our own idiosyncrasies… To the extent that we are a homogeneous group, the field reflects what that segment of the population deems important, useful, and interesting.” Valerie Folkes, ACR Newsletter, Winter 2002

13 “Hidden Events” “Hidden events are those phenomena whose existence we either (1) doubt or deny, of (2) do not know about at all.” (Zaltman, ACR Presidential Address 1993) “A hidden event is not the same thing as a neglected topic,” which is purposefully ignored. Causes of “hidden events”: a C.I.P. view Selective exposure and selective attention Perceptual biases and schematic biases in assessing meanings Goal priming Memory accessibility False consensus bias

14 Fantasies, Feelings, Fun, etc. Extending Holbrook and Hirschman, 1982 Faculty PriorityHidden Event Analytical thoughtFantasies, Feelings, and Fun AchievementFoolishness, Futility Independence, autonomyFamily, Friendship, Fellowship Self-ControlFreud-ish notions (sub-, non-, pre- conscious) CompetenceFrailty SkepticismFaith AmbitionFree time

15 Presidential Perspectives Marsha Richins (2000)Big picture, social influencesNon-social Joe Alba (1999)Mindless, thoughtless behaviorsThoughtful and capable Debbie John (1996)Perspectives from childrenAdults Beth Hirschman (1990)“Dark side” of consumptionBehaving in their self-interests Morris Holbrook (1989)Lyricism in communicationExplainable by dispassionate discourse Russ Belk (1986)Embeddedness in “rest of life”Isolated from “rest of life” Gerry Zaltman (1982)“Hidden events”Conforming to pre-existing theories Hal Kassarjian (1977)Low involvement, mundaneHigh involvement President (Year)More Attention neededConsumers viewed as AmericanGlobal perspectivesJag Sheth (1984)

16 “Representativeness” At the aggregate level, the body of consumer research (appearing in our most prestigious journals) does not achieve the goal of “representativeness” as set out by Terry Shimp, ACR Presidential Address 1993 “The fundamental and abiding purpose of consumer research is to acquire understanding and knowledge of consumer behavior.”

17 Actions: ACR (Org.) Level Don’t: Over-manage direction of the field (Bagozzi 1992) Do: Set up incentives, such as MSI and TCR Do: Increase support for non-traditional doctoral students Do: Increase diversity in gatekeeper roles: demographics (gender and ethnicity) psychographics (lifestyle, personality, family roles, subcultures) Do:Consider mentoring structures to partner struggling new authors with journal-savvy scholars

18 Actions: University Level Don’t: Limit academic freedom. Do: Reconsider doctoral screening process. Use indicators of: creativity, productivity, intellect Drop “comfort zone” criteria Do: Increase flexibility in doctoral program requirements for non-traditional students at leading universities Do: Reconsider flexible tenure-track and tenured faculty contracts Do:Reward faculty for research on “inconvenient” topics

19 Actions: Individual Level Don’t: Let judgment and decision making biases select your topic for you. Do: Consider the people, places, perceptions, and processes that are hidden from academic view Do: Then choose a research topic that you find fascinating.

20 Thank you Angela Lee and Dilip Soman ACR members Board of Directors Advisory Council Voting Members

21 Thank you Family Dedicated to the memory of my father, Norman Brucks Melanie Rick Marilyn Eric

22 Choices in Consumer Research: Unintended Consequences Merrie Brucks Eller College of Management University of Arizona Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts today


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