About TroyHCampbell

Duke Marketing Ph.D Student

ACR 2013 Doctoral Consortium: Contradictions are Part of the Point

ImageOn Thursday, October 3, 2013, a lot of information was shared at the Doctoral Consortium.  Interestingly, some of the advice contradicted one another: contradictions occurred between and across sessions. As an attendee or someone who just read the tweets, you might be wondering, “What’s a grad student to make of speakers giving different opinions?”

Indecision Blog caught up with Consortium Co-Chair Derek Rucker after day to talk about the themes and goals of the day. The full video interview will be coming soon but we wanted to post a few quotes to help clarify some things.

What did you hope the students got from today?

Rucker: “As a Ph.D student you are at a particular graduate program with a limited set of faculty… The big thing here is exposure to different thoughts, and different ideas, and different ways of doing things.”

How should students deal with hearing contradictory information?

Rucker: “One of things I want students to get is that there are different ways to approach research. Sometimes these are represented as contradictions – Faculty A says do it this way and Faculty B says do it that way. But instead, with many great minds in the room you see that there are different paths to success.”

 “For instance students that just listened to talk that discussed, ’Should I do more field experiments or should I start with theory?’ whereas probably both are paths to success. You can come to [ACR] and say, ‘Wow there are some real luminaries in the field. What’s their style? Which ones resonate with me? Which ones don’t? [At ACR] you get this nice exposure to different ways of reaching the same goal.”

Across the Consortium

At many places across the Doctoral Consortium, Rucker’s sentiments were shared. At the Consumer Culture Theory session, the researchers talked about connecting with “what vibrated with you.” At the “What I was Glad I Did/What I Wish I Would Have Done Differently” session, the speakers openly contradicted each other. But the contradictions were not mean – instead they openly laughed about the contradictions. Likewise the journal editors talked about differences and even used a funny metaphor (to varying degrees) of “too hot, too cold, and just right” to describe the journals’ unique characteristics and goals.

However, that doesn’t mean you should just run free without worries as there are definitely poor ways to do things and internally inconsistent ways to approach things. Doing things in a certain way means you will have to sacrifice something else – life and research come with trade-offs, so don’t let cognitive dissonance convince you otherwise. The point simply is that there are different ways to do great things and if the consortium seemed contradictory to you, you should know that it was, in fact, one of points of consortium: to let help you connect with a great path that works for you.

Special thanks to the co-chairs and all the panelists who took time to talk to Indecision Blog and provided us with your materials. 

N.B. Blogged and edited semi-live so mistakes and typos may have slipped in! 

Quotes, Tweets & Tidbits from the ACR 2013 Doctoral Consortium

Over the next few weeks, we will be rolling out full coverage of the ACR 2013 Doctoral Consortium which will will include full slides from presenters and topical summaries. However, we wanted to provide a few great lines either as direct quotes or paraphrases from the Doctoral Consortium. These are the ideas we found that most people were buzzing about.

The Short and Sweet Slides from the Kathleen Vohs Talk

Kathleen Vohs gave straightforward advice. Rather than give the “mile high” view (which she did a little bit) she got straight to business on what little specific things lead to success. Click here for the link to her slides. Lots of great information that will take you very little time to read.

Top Indecision Blog Tweets from Consortium

A few more that didn’t make twitter … 

@nomlogic – (paraphrased) There’s a difference between “taste” and “value” feedback. When you represent ideas to people you get “taste” feedback most often. “Taste” feedback is based on whether they like it or it fits with their preferences rather than “value” feedback which is about whether the idea is fundamentally flawed.

Amna Kirmani – “Is that a good idea, I don’t know but it will get published,” talking about how A) sometimes you don’t know whether something is good until down the line and B) some unimportant things get published.
Amna Kirmani – talked abut how important it is to make your audience guess to see what will happen and make them realize that the findings are not immediately obvious. Everything looks obvious in hindsight.
Kathleen Vohs – “I like to collect methods.” She does so by reading broadly and often.
Consumer Culture Theory Panel – Talked about getting videos into JCR and communicating through graphic novels, art, and poems.
N.B. Blogged and edited semi-live so mistakes and typos may have slipped in! 

ACR 2013 – What to Look Forward To

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 3.35.00 PMCo-Chairs Simona Botti and Aparna Labroo along with their team will bring innovation to Chicago this year for ACR 2013.

Not only are they embracing technology, but they are bringing new types of sessions and pushing new themes, especially the overall “Making a Difference” theme. There’s a lot at this conference. But here’s some of the many things to look forward to.

For those not attending, don’t worry – we will be live tweeting and blogging the highlights as well as providing in-depth summaries of the biggest talks and surprises of the conference online following the end of the conference. So keep it locked at Indecision Blog. Follow our RSS feed or follow @Indecision_Blog if you don’t already to keep in the loop.

Working Paper Session +  Submit Yours for Online Publication


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The working paper session takes place at 6:30pm on Friday night and is co-chaired by Leonard Lee and Wendy Liu. It’s a great place to connect with the youngest researchers in our field. But the connection won’t stop at the conference this year.

Indecision Blog is letting you publish online.  Maybe “publish” is not the right world, but we want you to post a PDF copy of your poster here online. If you want to share your blossoming research with the world then send us a PDF copy of the file via email to indecisionblogging@gmail.com or via twitter to @Indecision_Blog. (Also send us a full APA formatted citation for the poster.) Sometime after ACR check back to IndecisionBlog.com for a list of posters so you can connect with and learn from other young researchers.

 Film Festival

From Cuba, to electronic music, to running barefoot, the film festival explores consumption in artsy, fun, and direct ways. Bonus, right now you can check out the trailers and full cuts online through the links here. Even if you are hardcore experimental researcher, the film sessions are a great way to spend an hour or so of your time. See our full preview on the film festival here.

The film festival takes place through the conference and is co-chaired by Marylouise Caldwell and Paul Henry.

 An Amazing After Party

 house of bluesA special message from the entertainment committee…

“This year, a special highlight of the ACR conference will be the Grand Finale party at the House of Blues. In prior years, the ACR Grand Finale has entertained and delighted guests with works of Warhol (Pittsburgh, 2009), 5 story slides (St. Louis, 2011) and undersea creatures of all kinds (Vancouver, 2012). However, the ACR 2013 entertainment committee agreed we could do better.

To do so, we put together a magical evening of drinks (open bar!) and tomfoolery set the musical stylings of some of ACR’s own.  That’s right, people who have reviewed your papers will be performing live on stage at one of Chicago’s most celebrated venues. Wondering who will be on stage?  Show up and find out! 

Tickets are limited for this night-to-remember, so bring your camera phones, arrive early and stay late!”

The entertainment committee is: Kelly Goldsmith, Tom Meyvis, Leif Nelson, and Joachim Vosgerau.

Details: GRAND FINALE @ HOUSE OF BLUES

Saturday, 7:30pm – midnight

329 N. Dearborn St., between Kinzie St. and Wacker Dr.

Food, Open Bar, Brand Inequity Live Concert, DJ Ash

Tickets limited.

The Forums

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This year the forums expand to include Perspectives, Roundtables, and Workshops.

The Perspectives bring together leaders in specific research domains (e.g. motivation, identity, and social influence) to discuss the “greatest hits” of their own research. Come see people discuss some of the most important ideas to our field in greater depth than ever before at ACR.

The Roundtables – Though not new to ACR, but the topics are always fresh and varied. The roundtables feature a bunch (like around 14 sometimes) professors talking about a specific hot topic such as applied research or neuroscience. It’s a great place to see great minds express raw ideas and opinions.

The Workshops are the “how-to” on the nitty-gritties of the research process such as data collection, data analysis, the famous/infamous moderation-mediation analysis, reviewing, and even videography. The Forums take place throughout the conference and the Forums at large are co-chaired by Anirban Mukhopadhyay and David Wooten.

The Doctoral Consortium

g1Featuring the ever nerve-racking speed dating and other professor interactions, you are just guaranteed to have an amazing conversation with a professor. Plus, your likely to leave with a “you can’t believe where our conversation went” story to tell about another professor.

Here an Indecision Blog we love consortiums because they try to get at the same things we care about on this website: sharing a diversity of opinions and providing support and inspiration for young researchers.

The Doctoral Consortium occurs on Thursday before the actual conference begins and is intended for Ph.D students. This promises to be the most covered session by Indecision Blog this year. Check back online for interviews, summaries, and more. The Doctoral Consortium is chaired by Derek Rucker and Jaideep Sengupta.

Mid-Career Mentorship Program

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This year, ACR addresses the long forgotten middle child in our field. While much effort gets put into equipping young researchers, those in the middle often get very little guidance.  ACR changes that with a short workshop by Nidhi Agrawal and Jonathan Levav.

The new initiative is meant to enable pre-tenure and recently tenured faculty to discuss topics such as making an impact, mentoring students, and life after tenure with senior colleagues. The idea is that these people don’t need a lot of guidance, so they don’t need an entire day like the doctoral students get, but a couple hours might be useful.

The event takes place on Thursday from 2pm to 4:30pm.

4 ACR Sessions to Get Excited About

ImageThere’s a plethora of things to get excited about at this ACR, but here’s a few to prime your appetite for consumer science.

We asked the chairs to write about their session and explain not only the research but let us know why we should be excited and why it’s important.

If you would like to be featured as a “Session to Get Excited About” at a future conference, email us a description of your session following the examples below. (indecisionblogging@gmail.com )

 #1 Social Goals and Word of Mouth

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Chair: Hillary Wiener

Details: 11am, Friday, Salon 12

Amazon reviews of everything, angry tweets seen by thousands of people, and viral ads. What do all of these things have in common?

They are all examples what marketers call “word-of-mouth,” or conversations that consumers have about products or experiences with companies.

Word-of-mouth has always been known as a powerful advertising method, but we know surprisingly little about what drives word-of-mouth and what consumers are trying to achieve by talking about products or experiences.

The first paper in this session introduces a framework for understanding word of mouth, after which three other papers show that consumers can fulfill important social goals–the need to make friends, the need to appear competent, and the need to be happy–by having conversations about products and experiences

#2 Beyond Reciprocity: Examining the Interplay Between Money & Relationships


Chairs: Avni Shah & Kathleen Vohs

Details: 3:30pm, Friday, Salon 3

If one could wish for two gifts that would substantially improve life, having money and strong close relationships would be ideal candidates.  Money and relationships, while being able to improve life’s outcomes, do so by dramatically different routes and mechanisms—and yet have significant overlap as well.  This session peers into the consequences that money and close relationships have for one another –and in doing so reveals some thought-provoking patterns for scientific understanding and consumer welfare.

This session features cutting-edge research in the psychology of money and relationships, and seeks to answer two important questions: 1) How can individuals’ close relationships influence their perceptions of and decision-making with money? 2) Conversely, how can decisions about money influence the behavior and perceptions within relationships?  This session explores two fundamental areas of research in consumer research and seeks to understand the theoretical and practical implications to aid consumer well-being.

#3 Consumers’ Prosocial Motives & Decision-Making

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Chairs: Leif  Nelson and Minah Jung

Details: 8am, Friday, Salon 3

Putting this session together, I learned about what matters to people psychologically in doing something good for society and unrelated people.

The first paper by Yoeli et al. shows that social forces can be more effective than a monetary incentive in stimulating energy-conservation behavior. The second paper featuring my research, looked at how people responded to an opportunity to be generous in a transaction setting in which customers can pay any price they want and a portion of their payment goes to charity. We found that people were much less likely to engage in a pay-what-you-want transaction when any portion, large or small, went to charity. Potential customers simply opted out of the transaction.

In the third paper, Inbar et al. found that people were nice and generous often because they prefer being fair and like to balance out what they did not earn by giving it back to the world at large. The fourth paper by Barasch et al. differs from the other papers in that it looks at how observers perceive the emotional intensity of a prosocial actor. They found that people gave credit to a person who felt good after being generous to others because they perceived the positive emotion as a signal of sincerity or authenticity in charitable giving.

All these findings come with their own little complications, which we’re excited to share with you at ACR this year or one day in print.

#4 From Encoding, to Protecting, to Retrieving: Understanding the Interplay between Social Identity & Consumer Memory 

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Chair: Amy Dalton

Details: 3:30pm, Saturday, Salon 12

I was excited to organize this session because I think that these papers, collectively, have something important to contribute to both the memory literature and the social identity literature.

Memory is an important topic to explore because consumer decisions are largely memory-based. But most work takes a ‘cold cognition’ approach to studying memory and, as a consequence, little is known about social factors that are important to marketers, like social identity. The work we’re presenting tries to fill this void.

From a social identity perspective, this session is interesting because most social identity research thinks about social-identity-related consumption in terms of product/brand preferences and choice, and doesn’t think about how memory factors in.

The papers in our session will show that memory affects product preference, product disposal, and product evaluation.  Also, this relationship is bidirectional: memory affects social-identity-related behaviors, and social identities affect memory.

The last thing I’d like to mention about this session (and why I’m excited about it) is that the papers flow well together. Of course they are all about consumer memory and social identity, but each paper looks at a different aspect of memory. The result is that the session will present a nice overview to the audience about the different ways that memory can be important from a social identity perspective (i.e., social identities affect encoding, memory protection, and memory retrieval).

Some content has been edited with permission by the Indecision Blog staff. For more on each session see the ACR program here.

 

ACR Film Festival – Overview and interview with the hosts

Editor’s note: this week we will be covering the annual conference of the Association for Consumer Research in Chicago. Our roving reporter Troy Campbell will be live blogging and tweeting to provide us updates from the conference. In the run-up to the conference, he speaks to the famed ACR Film Festival hosts.
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There is something inspiring and something really memorable about Association for Consumer Research conference selected films. I’ve long forgotten even seeing some talks (not your talk of course, I remember it in breathtaking detail), but I have never forgotten at least an image or two from each film I’ve seen.

For those unaccustomed with the film festival format at academic conferences, it features a few films, none longer than 30 minutes (with one exception this year) followed by questions. Accordingly the festival often feels like a normal session just with video instead of talks. The topics are usually very related to topics one would see in experimental journals like Journal of Consumer Research, with topics like health and identity. The film festival can be best described as watching the most high quality and thought provoking journalism imaginable. I hope that description does not sit wrong with those in the film festival community, because I mean as the utmost praise.

To give you a taste of what’s on offer, watch this quick trailer for one of the talks this year. Even if you are not at ACR this year, you can watch all the trailers here and get a sense of the main hypotheses and topics of the videos. You can also reach out to the film-makers with questions and click through on the videos to Vimeo to see the entire cuts of the films right now.

Recently, I had chance to interview Professors Marylouise Caldwell and Paul Henry, the hosts of this years ACR. They make a great case for why, even if you are a hardcore experimental researcher, the film festival is great place to stop by.

What is the goal of the film festival?

[Caldwell and Henry] To have a really great film festival experience.  We encourage folks to attend sessions that from their own perspective are likely to offer rich visual and/or tantalizing research realms.

What are the topics this year?

This year there is plenty on offer, our films ranging from explorations of conflicting consumption ideals in Cuba, how contemporary consumers are dealing with excessive boredom in the face of an interminably technologically stimulating world, what happens when aesthetically gifted consumers move from consumption to production and how their struggle with maintaining feelings of individuality and authenticity, how material objects enact amazingly forceful agency even in mundane settings to how various performances manifest and evolve in both marketplace and leisure-based settings.

What do you want students to get from your session?

We think the film festival facilitates looking at the world of consumption in a different way. Sometimes it transports us out of the halls of academe into places that we have never been, other times we suddenly have flashes of recognition and identification with other consumers that have eluded us up until now, often we experience emotions and sensations that allow us to appreciate consumer behaviour from a radically different perspective and finally we can sometimes sit back and appreciate just how the dynamic and stimulating our field of study can be.

Now for a personal question: What is one thing you love about the ACR conference?

The sheer intellectual stimulation, excitement of meeting and talking with like-minded others and the tremendous generosity of presenters and their audiences during post seminar discussions. 

One more personal question: Are you excited about anything specific for this ACR?

Chicago, Chicago, Chicago – what a wonder town! Plus catching up with many old friends and making new ones, especially film-makers new to our field.

Finally, here’s one more trailer, because the text in the trailer is just hilarious.

The Conference Survival Guide

Two of the biggest conferences of the season for InDecision readers are coming up soon: The Association for Consumer Research (ACR) and the Society for Judgment and Making’s (SJDM). We will be live blogging and live tweeting them, as well as providing pre and post coverage of the conferences, so keep an eye out for updates and exclusives with conference researchers and speakers. In preparation for these conferences we prepared a comprehensive “Conference Survival Guide.”

Speakers: Avoid The 4 Sins of Conference Presentations

cons

  1. Saying too much
  2. Showing a long and useless literature review
  3. Failing to remind your audience of the designs and terms of your research
  4. Showing off your methods and analysis rather than the substance of your findings (we aren’t quantitative economists after all)

Full detailed article here.

Manage Your Worries

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Can’t figure out what talks to go to? Finding you are losing interest in your own topics but love that trendy talk on virtual reality or green psychology? Just generally feeling lost?

Don’t worry: our expert panel has you covered here.

Remember to Do the 4 Things We Vow to Do After Conferences (But Rarely Do)

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  1. Read the full program
  2. Email that new contact
  3. Focus on your new inspirations
  4. Talk more with peers

Full article here.

How to (Not) Network

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Students: remember conferences are as much about peers as they are about professors. Peers are important, as we explained a little while ago on the blog.

“Off the record” many professors have been said that they hate it when people blindly come up to them at conferences and just grill with them with questions. Of course, not everyone does this and if you come up with good questions it can certainly sometimes work, but there are many professors who hate “networking antics,” so be careful how and who you approach.

Many successful professors have also told us they spent conferences staying up late chatting research and partying with peers not professors and these academics turned out more than just fine, so if you’ve got mad networking game, then go for it. But if it’s not your style, don’t worry: it’s not the end of the world.

One additional strategy for networking is walking around with someone who actually knows people – maybe that assistant professor you get along with so well at your school could help you?

Pay Attention to Twitter

And not simply because we will be live tweeting and blogging the conferences we cover, but because other people will be too—some of which you may already know. Twitter has now reached a critical mass in Academia such that twitter has become a useful tool and a source of entertainment. Remember, you don’t need to tweet, just follow people on twitter or type in the conference hashtag to look at what’s up.

For reference check out the top tweets from the Association for Psychological Science 2013’s conference. For ACR 2013, the hashtag is:  #ACR2013 and the conference handle is @AConsRes

Go to the Big Talks

g3Why? Because sometimes they are always topical and good or bad, everyone will be talking about them. If you get lucky you might even get a repeat of ACR 2011 when a panelist literally turned to another panelists and said, “Maybe no cares about your type of research.”

Sometimes they can be truly fantastic and as energizing as a rock concert: we are all still tingling from Michelle Pham’s 2013 Society for Consumer Psychology lunch speech on the “7 Sins of Consumer Psychology”, which we’ve published in its entirety here. While it’s not quite the same magic as being in that electrified San Antonio room with the amazing Pham, it’s almost as good. If you don’t believe us, you can always watch this video of the speech instead:

Be A Positive Open Attendee  

According to Professor Mike Norton, a person should never respond to another’s talk by saying, “Isn’t that just cognitive dissonance?”. Instead, Norton suggests “always be trying to build on people’s ideas.” The mindset he believes you should be in is, “That’s really cool and you know what else you could do is X.” More from Mike in the video below:

Remember: Many People Want to Help You

Here, Professors Leif Nelson and Simona Botti speak about how you should just ask people and professors for help if you need it (and watch until end for funny bit).

People in the field are likely to help you because they are nice. Alessandro Peluso even has a 2013 ACR presentation that shows people enjoy giving advice, so ask away.

Remember, feel free to ask us anything at InDecision and we will hazard an answer or direct you to someone who can better answer the question. Remember, we are one big team of researchers and teamwork should be part of our daily lives.

More than Friendship: The Importance of Student Peers

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Time and time again, you hear students talk about how lonely graduate school can be. To fight the loneliness, graduate students often befriend each other, play board games together, go to trivia nights together, or yes even party together—only on weekends and always responsibly of course. Even though this makes graduate school less lonely, the research itself may remain a lonely enterprise.

Yet it doesn’t have to be: future professors, inventors, and intellectual powerhouses are residing on the desk across from you, why not take advantage of that?

On day one of graduate school I wished someone would have told me so many things (e.g. difference between theory-application, how run certain models) but most of all I wish someone would simply have told me: “Student peers are fundamentally important to your academic life.” 

Of course, everyone knows you want to befriend and get along with the students in your department. However, unlike during your undergraduate studies where friendship is the ultimate goal, in graduate school so much more can occur. Graduate students are not just potential friends, they are potential colleagues, co-authors, discussion partners, support networks, and walking encyclopaedias of various literatures. Fellow students are the one of the biggest and most powerful resources in graduate school, yet we often overlook this fact.

No matter who your advisor is, he or she will not be around as much as your fellow students who are almost always there. They hear your ideas in class and lab, attend your conference presentations, talk at length with you over coffee and lunches, and see your ideas develop from day one. In many ways your peers often know your ideas, thought processes, passions, and weaknesses better than anyone else. This is especially true for students working with multiple advisors or switching between advisors.

Yet, often we simply don’t take advantage of our friendly fellow students. We don’t follow the example of the Psych Your Mind students who spend one lunch a week talking about ideas just amongst themselves. We don’t take the time to kick ideas back and forth, or just be someone’s sounding board. Instead, we stumble into advisor meetings will ill-prepared pitches, when a pre-conversation with a peer could have drastically improved them.

Recently, a group of students at a conference agreed to start a purposefully small and private online message board group, so they could communicate about important topics and questions. With this message board system, these students can get insight on complicated questions, methods, cites, and theories within an hour. A network of graduate students supporting each other can be at times more powerful than any individual meeting with a faculty member.

Lastly, even if we talk together or form networks, we don’t tend to co-author with each other. Remember last time you just couldn’t figure out the right stimuli, couldn’t handle the stress of a revision, and got writers block? Or remember that time you needed feedback from your advisor, but the advisor was in a conference in Spain? That’s when a student co-author would have saved you.

Professor Gavan Fitzsimons at Duke University often gets praised for one interesting talent: he’s good at putting graduate students together and building research teams. He knows how powerful a network of graduate students, senior professors, and often also young professors can be and his CV is a testimony of that.

There’s a belief in Improv Comedy that when two performers get on stage and make up a scene together, the performers create something that is greater than either performer would have created own their own. Improv performers believe that putting two passionate people together creates true greatness as they positively build upon one another’s ideas. Whether it is as co-authors, giving feedback on manuscripts, or just chatting about research over lunch, togetherness is a path to greater things.

Research Heroes: Dan Ariely

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This week we’re proud to feature Dan Ariely who is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and the author of three New York Times bestsellers: Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty.  He has also been featured in a number of popular TED Talk videos and he blogs regularly at his personal website DanAriely.com.

[The following is an abridged interview that was conducted verbally with Professor Ariely.]

I wish someone had told me at the beginning of my career… I wish somebody had helped me figure out how to emphasize the process of enjoying writing. We do lots of writing and academic writing is restrictive and unfriendly so I really wish that somebody would have helped me find the joy in writing early on in my career.

For me this relates to another important topic: how do you enjoy the process of science to a higher degree? How do you look at the small nuances that happen and find joy in it? I think often people focus on the outcomes like getting papers published. The source of happiness should really be about the research itself, but I needed some help in enjoying the process of writing and communicating and that would have been a great help early on.

I most admire academically is George Loewenstein. I think George is an incredible thinker – I think of him as someone who sits and observes the world in a very keen and astute way. He also has a huge understanding of the literature and is able to ask new and interesting questions that connect what he sees and what we know and what we don’t know and come up with new observations. He starts with something that is about the real world outside and then connects it to an interesting theory and then develops it in a very nice way.

The best research project I have worked on during my career… is probably dishonesty, partly because I’ve worked on it more than any other particular topic. That’s part of it – my own investment in my own research. It is also important because I think it connects basic research with lots of policy implications. Often when we do experiments on decision-making we find out what people do badly which gives us opportunities to fix it. However, not all of these impact policy. But in the case of dishonesty, there are strong policy implications which I think are central to how we regulate banks and think about lobbying and all kinds of other things.

The worst research project I have worked on during my career or the one project that I should never had done… There’s probably a few of them, but there is one particular project on smart agents. The project was based on an interesting idea but then I had to learn Java and programming, and the amount of work that the project required was unbelievable – not just in terms of learning how to program but it was all based in simulation. Our field does not really appreciate simulations to a high degree, so I felt I learned something from it. However, the ratio of learning to effort was something that was not a reasonable exchange rate.

The most amazing or memorable experience when I was doing research… Analyzing the data from a study we did in India. It was such a complex study and it took so much time and so much money. I think of analyzing data as almost a religious experience. Sadly, I don’t do it as much as I use to, but on that day I took a glass of wine and prepared the data set and created everything and started doing the analysis. When I do analysis I always start by looking at the means – I don’t care initially so much about statistical significance as I just want to see how things look like and want to see the patterns. That’s how I get my initial answer to the questions: was I right, was I wrong, and what’s going on? On this particular occasion it was really interesting because it was such complex data. Some of it worked as I expected which was great and some of it didn’t work as I expected which is also great because I learned something.

The one story I always wanted to tell but never had a chance… I actually learned a lot about life in general from being a long-term patient in a burn department. I learned things about bandage removal, relations between people as well as feeling part of society and not feeling part of society. Many of those experience are hard to capture in an experiment because experiments are inherently simple: they are about a few conditions and don’t capture the complexity.

I’ve also written something that I posted on my blog about my life as burn patient and I actually wished we had an outlet for that stuff more: in medicine there are experiments and then there are case studies. Maybe in medicine they put too much value on case studies but I would like to do more of them. I actually tried to submit something to a journal as an ethnographic reflection but they said it did not follow their procedures and methods, and in some sense it is a shame because if you think of research as a collection of insights, it would be nice if we could include more insights, even ones that are not the standard academic ones that we know how to do in experiments.

A research project I wish I had done… For a long time I wanted to do research on productivity in the workplace as a function of different types of rewards: financial rewards, bonuses, kind words, paying with pizzas, group rewards, or whatever you could think of. I am getting closer – we are just starting to do a few, but there are many challenges.

On one hand compensation is main thing in business – it is the main line item for any business and yet we know so little about it. I would love to do experiments to with bonuses to CEOs and bankers and so on. I would settle for small bonuses as well with strong research practices. It’s is clearly something we need to study but the problem is that the people who are getting big bonuses don’t really want to know the answers. It’s definitely an important objective to figure how to do it and how to do it well, and in general how we do research on compensation.

 If I wasn’t doing this, I would be… Hard for me to say of course, but I have a deep love for biology. I sadly haven’t had enough time to study biology in the past few years, but I look at the advances in biology and molecular biology in particular and I am just amazed. That would have been one thing I would have loved to try to do. In another direction I would have loved to been architect as I think of them as designers of human interaction. Granted, not all architects but many are: they create the environment in which people live, and in that perspective I think they are like social scientist but in a particular domain. I would have loved to try that and have an impact on how people live.

The biggest challenge for our field in the next 10 years… would be to understand the generality of the findings we have. We have lots of findings and different aspects and we have assumed for a long time that they would just carry over in different contexts and different occasions.

Of course, when we talk about the theory of mind or psychology, the context doesn’t have to be part of the theory, but as we get access to more people and more cultures, I think we’ll have to have a more nuanced understanding of our theories and we will have to learn to adjust them based on other intervening factors that might come from culture for example. We have been ignoring culture too much.

It has less to do with the theory and more to do with application: as we try to apply things and try to change human behavior, we will need to understand those nuances to a larger degree.

My advice for young researchers at the start of their career is… research in general is a lonely long term endeavor. I think before you start with it, it is important to figure out exactly what you love doing – even if other people are not particularly in favor of and it is not particularly the hot topic of the day. I think that is less important – if it is something that you deeply care about, go for it, because at the end of the day the quality of the work is something that requires that thinking and investment over days and months and years and the only way to do it is to do something you really love.

Love first – suitable with the profession second.

Viewpoint: Video Advice from Mike Norton, Leif Nelson, and Simona Botti

This spring, we took our shaky camera around the Conference for the Society for Consumer Psychology. We asked a few professors to give us some ‘bite sized’ words of wisdom. They talked about hope, presentation style, and how to think like a researcher.

A couple of months later, here are the results (finally)…

Michael Norton

…on “simple presentations” and “asking questions.”

 

 The Doctoral Consortium organizers Leif Nelson and Simona Botti

…on going to conferences, how grad school is actually manageable, and how there are more helping hands out there than we normally think. 

 

Four Academic Writing Lessons From Man of Steel (Spoiler Free)

Despite a fewman of steel yo original and cool looking moments, the Man of Steel was a lesson in poor storytelling. Given that Professor Jim Bettman often lectures about how writing an academic paper is like writing a story, there’s a lot to be gleaned from the failures of the Man of Steel.

Here are four ways in which Man of Steel failed, and four pieces of advice from esteemed professors that can help your next paper so you don’t make the same mistakes.

#4 Stick With One Theme

louis better

Jim Bettman advises students that academic writers should tell a consistent straightforward story. Importantly, academic papers should be focused on a clear theme and make the theoretical contribution explicit and clear.

Man of Steel chose a different direction. Instead of choosing one theme, it tried to cram in truth, faith, the (un)willingness to take a life, fate, genetics, sacrifice, and family and ultimately failed to say anything valuable about any of them.

Similarly, Mike Norton tells students that when giving a presentation, audience members will tend to remember one image or idea. Accordingly, he proposes that presenters should try to repeatedly make their central picture the focus of the presentation. He often says, “leave them with one image.”

Bettman further advised that, when writing a paper, you should tell readers what you are going to tell them, then tell them it, and then tell them what you’ve told them.

#3 Keep It Linear

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Bettman also argues that academic papers need to be kept in a linear format. He explains that an academic paper is not a mystery story and not a story with many subplots.

Man of Steel explored a nonlinear story line. It’s a format that has benefitted a few movies (and maybe a research paper or two), but in general it only works for special cases (e.g. Momento).

Most of the time nonlinear storytelling can distract from the main thrust of the papers, put cognitive load on viewers, and lose the emotional impact of each moment. Bettman’s advice won’t make your paper into the best drama ever, but it give your paper clear communication, and that’s the goal of science writing.

#2 Keep the Immediate Introduction Short

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Peter McGraw recently challenged Daryl Bem’s “hour glass style” in a blog post about how papers should start with a straightforward explanation of the research puzzle and findings.

Unlike Peter McGraw’s papers, Man of Steel started with a lengthy introduction that was completely detached from the main plot. The movie spent 20 minutes on Krypton before getting to the main story on earth. Though enjoyable, the introduction did not serve the core story of Clark Kent.

Many academic introductions often linger on points and citations that are completely irrelevant to the main point of the paper. This wastes readers’ time, distracts from the paper, and may make the findings look weak compared to the promise of the introduction.

Robert Cialdini suggests that young researchers should write papers that test against a competing conceptual hypothesis. Peter McGraw suggests something very similar in that the intro should first explain what has not been shown or a puzzle that needs be answered.

Peter McGraw argues that this brief overview of the puzzle is the best way to begin. Anyone following this strategy will be in good company—for instance these researchers and this paper you might have heard of used Peter McGraw’s “explain the puzzle” intro strategy.

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1979). Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk. Econometrica, 47, 263-291.

Expected utility theory has dominated the analysis of decision making under risk. It has been generally accepted as a normative model of rational choice [24], and widely applied as a descriptive model of economic behavior, e.g. [15, 4]. Thus, it is assumed that all reasonable people would wish to obey the axioms of the theory [47, 36], and that most people actually do, most of the time. The present paper describes several classes of choice problems in which preferences systematically violate the axioms of expected utility theory. In the light of these observations we argue that utility theory, as it is commonly interpreted and applied, is not an adequate descriptive model and we propose an alternative account of choice under risk.

For more on Peter McGraw’s puzzle method visit his blog post here.

#1 End With Substance

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Dan Ariely advises students to make the conclusion offer something substantial.

Many people use the general discussion section to hand wave counter explanations, awkwardly propose real world implications, or mention limitations that are obvious but provide no insight on how to deal with those limitations. The sentence, “We only ran these experiments on college students, so our findings remain limited” wastes a reader’s time. If included, the sentence should be followed by hypotheses about how and why other populations might differ.

Man of Steel offered a completely unsubstantial conclusion. It comprised 30 minutes of senseless punches without any real progression in the plot or in the main characters. Compare that to the The Avengers in which the ending features the characters finally working together, the revelation of Hulk’s angry secret, Tony Stark finally behaving selflessly, and a great look at the future directions of Marvel’s “phase two” with the revelation of the supervillain Thanos and the hypothesis that the Avengers will reunite.

Papers can adopt The Avengers’ strategy and talk about a few (not more than three) future directions in depth, comment on how the findings illuminates or synthesizes theory, or try to build toward future theoretical advances rather than simply saying “if it were applied in this different setting it would probably also work.”

Conclusion

Man of Steel had some great lines and some flashy “effects” (pun intended) but that is not enough to tell a great story. Academic writers can learn from this. And if someone passes these professors’ advice on to the crew of Man of Steel 2, maybe they can learn from it too.