AUSTIN, Texas—Raj Raghunathan, assistant marketing professor at the McCombs School of Business, has been awarded a $442,000 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant for his ongoing research in consumer behavior.
Raghunathan’s research demonstrates that most of us have been taught—through parental, social or religious messages—to believe that when making consumption decisions "more fun equals less good."
"We seem to carry around a self-flagellating whip," Raghunathan said. "If we are having fun, we must be doing something that is bad for us."
For more information on Raghunathan’s research, visit The Good, the Bad and the Intuition.
In one study, subjects were shown a picture of one of two cameras that looked exactly alike except one was a bright blue color and the other was a dull gray. He then asked the participants to judge the quality of the image purportedly taken by the camera, which in reality was the same picture. The group that thought the picture had been taken by the blue camera—the "more fun" camera—judged the image to be poorer in quality than the group that thought the image was taken using the gray, "boring" camera.
In another, Raghunathan invited friends to a party and asked them to try some mango lassi. Half the guests were told the drink was "relatively unhealthy" and the other half were told it was "relatively healthy." Later, after the guests had sampled the lassi, they were asked to evaluate the drink’s taste. The result: Those who rated the beverage higher in taste were the ones who thought they were drinking something relatively unhealthy.
"People believe things can be serious, important or useful," Raghunathan said. "Or they can be fun, enjoyable or hedonically pleasing. But they can’t be both."
For more information contact: Rob Meyer, McCombs School of Business, 512-471-6746.