About TroyHCampbell

Duke Marketing Ph.D Student

Viewpoint: Never Say “Isn’t That Just Cognitive Dissonance?”

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 9.39.33 AMAfter a talk at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology 2014 conference in Austin, I found myself leaving Ballroom C when I heard someone utter to a colleague one of my least favorite phrases: “Isn’t that just cognitive dissonance?”

I wanted to shout at them, “You just went to a session on the application and extension of cognitive dissonance. Of course it was ‘cognitive dissonance,’ but it was insightful and useful.”

I did not, of course, say such things then. But now here I am on the Internet doing what I should have done outside Ballroom C.

But before I channel the wisdom expressed by the professors and practitioners who’ve been interviewed here on Indecision Blog, let’s back up for a second and set the scene.

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ballroom c

Deborah Hall of Arizona State University started a Friday afternoon presentation in Ballroom C by talking about how, in the 2012 Republican National Convention, Paul Ryan stated, “My playlist starts with AC/DC and ends with Zeppelin.”

Hall then argued this moment made many liberals uncomfortable. Why? Because liberals found themselves feeling similar to a conservative.

In a series of experiments, Hall and colleague Wendy Wood showed that pa
Studies like these illustrate and bring a sense of clarity to the partisan problem (and also extend group psychology in general). Yet, after hearing Hall’s presentation, one might think that, “Of course this is true, Festinger’s 1957 book predicts it.” However, before hearing these findings, one might also assume the opposite. One might might assume that accentuating basic similarities would easily “transcend party lines.”rtisans feel “dissonance affect” when they felt similar to members of the other political party. The researchers concluded that their findings “demonstrate that similarity to the negative reference standard provided by outgroups can elicit the feelings of psychological threat that accompany cognitive dissonance, highlighting a dilemma faced by politicians who seek to appeal to voters by accentuating basic similarities that transcend party lines.”

Many people walk away from SPSP talks like this one with questions like “Didn’t we already know that?” or the dismissive phrase “Isn’t that just cognitive dissonance?” In an interview with Indecision Blog, Harvard Professor Michael Norton explains why this dismissive attitude is the wrong attitude, and academics should instead adopt a rather more positive constructive attitude.

Similarly, Cornell Professor David Pizarro laments that a senior colleague told him not to pursue a project because, “Either way the results ended up, both theoretical conclusions would be obvious.” To which he responded, “Then is there not value in knowing which one is actually correct?”

Researchers often fail to see the value in clever research projects that test two competing hypotheses. Often they seem to prospectively be against research that will lead readers to fall victim to a “knew-it-all-along” hindsight bias.

On a similar note, Freakonomics author and economist Steven Levitt argues, “The sign of genius is the ability to see things that are completely obvious but to which everyone else is blind.” While there are definitely other signs of genius, our field tends to dismiss this kind of “genius.” And, unfortunately, it is genius of this kind that is A) often the most important to dealing with real world problems and B) fundamentally important to developing rich vast theoretical models of nuanced behavior.

Let’s retire the phrase “Isn’t this just cognitive dissonance?” and, more importantly, the harmful attitude that surrounds it.

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Viewpoint: 6 Things a Conference Can Do For You

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There’s so many things about conferences that can fill you with hope, re-energize and recharge you as well as rebuild your confidence. Here are six things that academic conferences can help you with.

#1 Realizing that the tough love was worth it

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Let’s be honest, no matter how cool your advisors and professors are (and personally I have some ridiculously cool ones), sometimes you just feel like you can’t take anymore of their criticism.

They are just so very very critical. They wear you down and force you to reconsider everything. They question you, they question you, and then for a change of a pace they question you some more. Grad school can start to become a tunnel shaped like your advisor’s office with no light in sight.

But then you present at a conference. And the audience claps. And they clap not just politely, but with genuine enthusiasm. And all that pain now seems justified. And all of a sudden you feel a rush of thankfulness for your advisors and resist the urge to text them to tell your success and sappy thankfulness. You see another presentation and you see that student’s advisor was just “too nice” to them and now the student is a sitting duck in the Q&A.

Conferences remind you that all that “tough love” your advisors give you is really out of “love” not just “tough.”

#2 Reminding you that you do have interesting ideas

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 4.43.42 PMEveryone at your own school has heard you go on and on about your ideas for years now. They have become desensitized, and when people become desensitized to concepts they find them less interesting and can even underestimate the concepts’ general “objective” or “social” value.

But when you are at a conference talking about your ideas to fresh ears, your ideas tend to ring with more authority and more impact. Plus, the ears of conference attendees tend to be in many ways a better sounding board to test your ideas. Your ideas fall on ears without prejudice. To them you’re just a researcher. That’s an incredibly freeing experience.

 #3 Connecting you with that person who nods and smiles in the audience

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 4.41.59 PMIs there anybody in life that makes you as happy as the person in the audience who smiles and approvingly nods along with your presentation? Okay, hopefully your life partner or best friend makes you feel a little better, but still that person in the audience activates the happy dopamine pretty damn hard.

The only person who comes closer to the nodding audience member is the stranger who comes up to you randomly a day after your presentation to say “Good job.” For a moment you feel like the lead singer from the band Fun who sings, “There are people on the street / They’re coming up to me / And they’re telling me / That they like what I do now.”

 #4 Remembering that there are people in the world like you

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Maybe you find qualitative research interesting, maybe you have an odd presentation style, maybe you find applied or niche theoretical research really interesting. Whoever you are you, at times you probably feel like an outcast at your own school. However, when you come to a conference you find that at least some others see the world the way you do, find the same topics interesting, and have the same research philosophy.

Even at the best programs, you can’t find everything you optimally need. That’s why conferences are so beautiful: they fill in the cracks. Chances are, your advisor has probably told you to talk to certain people at conferences to help fill in those cracks. Good advisors know the limitations of a single department. Recently Professor Rucker spoke about this issue and even designed a Doctoral Symposium to specifically address the issue. He wanted students to be more exposed to different ideas and find what methods of doing research they “clicked with.”

#5 Reminding you that you are a person

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 4.34.45 PMIn graduate school, sometimes it is hard to feel like you’re a person. You read, write, analyze, go home, exercise, or maybe not exercise (I promise I’ll do it tomorrow or next week), and then watch an episode of Breaking Bad and go to sleep. That’s what graduate school becomes. While your friends post Facebook pictures of roof top bars, you post an article about the ethics of data collection or a psychological analysis of Doctor Who.

But conferences force students out of their labs and out of their routines, and drop them onto the streets of some truly fantastic cities. If you’re lucky, your conference will even throw an amazing after party at a downtown club where you can feel like a VIP for the night – all this serves to re-energize you as you look down the glass floor of the CN tower or toast a drink at the John Hancock bar and bond with conference friends.

Professor Meg Campbell spoke at the Association for Consumer Research 2013 about how for many graduate students it is important to have a life, excitement, and friends. This all gives students the energy they need to trudge through the academic life. If as a student you do nothing exciting, you may crave an emotional boost from looking through a funny tumblr, but if you know you have excitement in your future, if you feel satisfied with that picture of your conference friends walking the Golden Gate at a lunch break, then dealing with that awful reviewer #2 is not so bad. Conferences can be a personal affirmation.

#6 Wait, there is new research out there! I forgot that.

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As one proceeds in academia one reads more often but reads exciting things less often. By the nature of our craft we start drilling into one area so far that nothing seems very novel or new. And if it is new it seems like a tweak not the grand advancement we got into graduate school looking to make. It can lead you to lose confidence that there’s anything new in the field. It can also just make you depressed, as the days of being excited by daily reading something new in intro grad classes are long behind you.

But at conferences every session, every conversation, and every chance encounter  is full of disparate and new ideas. This has two wonderful effects. First, it is simply wildly entertaining. We forget sometimes how much just listening to new intellectual ideas entertains us. Second, it starts to build “broad connections” that can help you develop your ideas. Professor Jim Bettman advises academics to consistently read up on areas not directly related to their line of study. This takes advantage of the availability bias and leads you as a researcher to keep different ideas available in your head. This means that there are greater chances you’ll find spontaneous connections with your own work.

Malcolm Gladwell’s ACR 2013 Talk: Summary, Science and Responses

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Malcolm Gladwell just gave a talk at the Association for Consumer Research. What did he talk about? How did it go? What scientific research did he cover? What are related research he did not cover? How did he handle questions and a somewhat “difficult” audience of behavioral scientists?

We will post a more detailed reaction soon that will feature editorials. But for those itching to know what he talked about and also interested in citation links related to what he said, here’s your summary fix.

What was his “hypothesis”?

Gladwell talked about topics not in his new book. He described the ideas as ‘provisional’ but they seemed highly polished. He mainly talked about how minorities (women, races) are kept out of the majority and his main hypotheses was that people excluded minorities by a) accepting some of them and/or b) being hyper critical of others. His illustrative hypothesis was that if and when Hillary Clinton is elected President she will be the only woman president for a long time.

What were the specifics of the “hypothesis”?

Gladwell argued that people feel licensed to be discriminatory against minorities because they tend to accept a few of them (e.g. have one female head of state, have one woman artist in a museum) and or do a few things for them (charity). He also argued they feel like they can be hyper critical of minorities.To help explain this point he defined two different types of minority tokens: the trouble token and the ideal token.

The trouble token he defined as the person that represents the minority and is thoroughly thrashed by the majority culture. His main example for this was former Australian head of state Julia Gillard who Gladwell says was uniquely ridiculed by the public in part because of her gender.

The ideal token he defined as the person that is accepted by the majority and allows the majority to feel “not sexists” or “not racist.” His main narrative example for this was artist Elizabeth Thompson who broke into the male dominated English art scene in the 1870s. However, her success did not lead to a drastic change in the gendered art community. There was also some discussion about Jews and how Nazis felt comfortable with prejudice and the Final Solution because they had previously been nice to small groups or individuals. In discussing the ideal token he cited “moral licensing” work about how favoring Obama licenses people to have anti-black attitudes.

How did he do?

ImagePretty fantastic actually. Rhiannon MacDonnell said it best on Twitter: “Really interesting and candid talk by Gladwell at ACR 2013. Great jock tackling a tough crowd with humility and humor.”

Gladwell did two things right: 1) He told great thought provoking stories and 2) he was upfront that he was proposing absolute “laws.” He cleverly joke about how his aims are different from the scientific community.

The ACR Co-Chairs Simona Botti  and Aparna Labroo should be proud to have brought such great entertainment with a side of thought provoking insights to ACR with Gladwell. In their introduction of the Gladwell session, it was obvious how excited the two were to have Gladwell, and by the end of the session that excitement was shared by arguably most of the audience.

But there was one thing…

Gladwell’s talk was extremely depressing.  He identified a problem and offered no solution. His talk ended with, “And I’m not certain we’ll ever have another Black President.”

Gladwell’s entire message was that people in the majority can oppress minorities and still feel good about themselves. His whole talk was about why and how this happened but the takeaway was there really is no hope. There was sliver of hope suggesting that if some how a significant portion of the minority can force their way in, things will get better. However, that was the only ray of sunshine.

Now, if you are in the successful class (like in many ways to audience at Palmer Hilton hotel conference featuring Malcolm Gladwell are), then his points seem insightful. But if you are in the minority or lower class then the results are just depressing.

How did he manage the whole criticism of the Gladwell style?

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Arguably quite well. He was humble. Saying his ideas in the talk were “provisional” and “I am just playing.” He joked about differences between his writing and scientific writing saying, “I am not going to submit that [his hypothesis on culture] to JPSP [The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology].”

He also talked about how though all the behavioral scientists in the room think it is obvious that things like culture affect outcomes, this is not the case for the general public always. He states that his books were to get people thinking about ideas that our field just knows to be true

Yale Professor Zoe Chance asked Gladwell a pointed question about balancing accuracy with storytelling. His response seemed very similar to a recent quote he gave in a Guardian piece, “If my books appear oversimplified, then you shouldn’t read them” and also expressed in an extended conversation with Duke Professor Dan Ariely.

Gladwell stated that he wants to inspire people and make them feel joyous about science. He sees himself (as he literally is) the child of an academic and pursues similar but not the exact same goals. From the buzz around ACR it seems Gladwell won over a lot of the Gladwell skeptics. He did this by clarifying that he isn’t trying to replace scientists nor does he want to propose absolute laws – he articulated perfectly and humbly that his goals are different.

Why the talk was interesting & uncomfortable

Gladwell articulated in his iconic style a question that has been on the minds of many moral psychologists: how can we feel good about ourselves when we do so little to actually help those in need?

For instance all of the conference members with enjoy a private party at the House of Blues in Chicago this evening and return late into the night to Palmer Hilton for a nice sleep and flight back—all compensated by their universities. All of us here at ACR arguably all engage in some degree of hypocrisy, claiming to care so much for the poor, the obese, and the irrational consumer, but we then go buy a $5 Starbucks with university funds.

Understanding this general psychological phenomenon and trying to grasp at what truly is the correct moral way to live in the world is something that came (intentionally or not) out of Gladwells speech – it’s a wonderful spark for empirical and philosophical work.

What science should Malcolm Gladwell read?

ImageIt was difficult to tell how much psychology Gladwell has read. He referenced work on moral licensing, but even how familiar he was with that topic was ambiguous. This did not stop him from making insightful and great points that he openly described as speculative.

However, if he does want to move more from speculation to more of a firm hypotheses for a future articles or a book, we have a few suggestions of what he should read more of. If you have any suggestions let us know on Twitter (@Indecision_Blog) or just leave a comment on this post. We’ll be updating this post with the ideas you share us here and also with more specific articles in the future to stimulate discussion amongst ourselves and maybe even to pass along to Gladwell. In sum, it is the belief of at least this author that Gladwell put together some fascinating hypotheses that may be worth exploring or relating to our work.

Moral licensing

Licensing is a more contentious topic than it sometimes seems. We suggest he keeps his eyes out for looming meta-analyses that should come out soon and check out work on when licensing does not occur such as in this study by Ayelet Gneezy and colleagues.

Moral self

His hypotheses seemed very similar to work by Albert Bandura on moral disengagement and Nina Mazar on the self-concept maintenance model. Both of these ideas were the center of Dan Ariely’s bestselling new book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty, so it was somewhat odd than none of these researchers in our field got a nod and instead only Effron and Monin got a tip.

Categorization theory

In discussing how people assign people to categories and code people as say “in-group” or “out-group” or how whites might decide where to code a black person as “black” or not has been extensively looked at the literature. This seemed fundamental to his discussion of the ideal token, but he did not discuss any of this work. Was this because of time or his lack of knowledge of it? Even just a short browsing on Psych Wikipedia for this topic might help.

Our Question! His Answer: Storytelling

Indecision Blog had the honor of asking Gladwell the first question in the Q&A (big thanks to co-chairs of ACR for this honor): we asked how can academia influence business persons and policy makers in the way Gladwell has.

His answer was simply that we need to tell stories. He made clear that the story has to be in the communication with businesses and policy makers. Gladwell described his answer as “obvious”, but we still think it’s not so obvious in our field all the time. (Full coverage as well as the full transcription of Gladwell’s answer to this question sometime soon.)

However, we will note that Gladwell started his ACR talk with a very long story before it became apparent what his hypotheses was and long before his talk got “scientifically interesting.” You could feel the tension in the room when Gladwell was just storytelling and before he delivered on the story in a way that seemed to satisfy the audience. We as researchers would probably have skipped the extensive opening narratives when communicating our ideas, but Gladwell says this is necessary. At the end when all the bread crumbs he laid out came together, it was hard to argue that his extensive storytelling did not help make his simple hypotheses seem more real and inspire his audience to actually do something about it.

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.