Bauer Assistant Professor Shares Awe-Inspiring Research

Published on March 29, 2017

Assistant Professor Melanie Rudd Invited to Present to Campus Counterparts at Speaker Series

Assistant Professor Melanie Rudd studies the ways emotions can influence consumer behavior.

We live in a world where “makers” groups proliferate, where exploration of everything from do-it-yourself herbal concoctions to beer-brewing and songwriting dominate social discourse and leisure time activities.

Figuring out what makes people likely to actually jump in and participate in such activities, rather than sitting on the sidelines, is key to bridging the rather large gulf between motivation and completion. And it is the focus of research by Bauer College faculty member Melanie Rudd, who was selected to speak about her work in the Assistant Professor Excellence Speaker Series segment that takes place from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, in Room 310 of the University Classroom & Business Building.

Rudd, assistant professor of marketing, studies the ways emotions influence our resolve to start (and finish) that quilt, or influence decisions about whether to purchase whatever latest how-to materials are showing up at hobby shops, automotive supply outlets or wherever else consumers happen to be.

She’s found that awe is a powerful motivator.

“Awe is a mysterious and relatively understudied emotion,” she said. “But our work shows that inducing awe can be an effective way of enhancing consumers’ willingness to learn, and in turn, stimulating their thirst to create.”

People with a strong need for closure were especially influenced by awe in the study, Rudd said, which suggests it can be just the thing to push potential creators past a tendency to be what she and her collaborators characterize as being cognitive misers — in other words, the thing that motivates someone to try something new, as opposed to remaining a creature of habit or choosing an easier or more comfortable course.

Speaker Biography Assistant Professor Melanie Rudd has a Ph.D. in Marketing from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BA in Business Administration from the Michael G. Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. Rudd’s research interests include the study of time perception, affect (mood and emotions), prosocial behavior and goals. Her research has appeared in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, Psychological Science and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and received coverage in a variety of media outlets, including Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, ABC News, CNN, Business Insider, the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe.

The Assistant Professor Excellence Speaker Series is proudly sponsored and organized by the University of Houston Faculty Senate.

By Julie Bonnin