Dissertation Competition Results 2013

Every year, SCP organises a Dissertation Proposal Competition for doctoral students. The proposals need to relate to a topic in the consumer psychology area and be in the proposal stage at the time of submission which means no final data can have been collected and the work may not have been submitted for journal publication by the submission date.

This year the competition received 24 entries which were all double-blind reviewed on innovativeness, potential contribution to consumer psychology, grounding in literature, design of the research as well as argument and rhetorical quality. Based on the summed rankings, the top 5 proposals moved on to a second round of double-blind reviews by new reviewers and the final winner was based on these reviews.

This year’s winner is Stephanie M. Tully from Stern School of Business (NYU) with her dissertation “The Role of Financial Constraints in Material Versus Experiential Purchases: Preferences, Choices, and Future Well-Being”.

Winning dissertation abstract:

When spending discretionary money, one of the most basic trade-offs consumers must make is between spending on material versus experiential purchases, a trade-off with substantial consequences for well-being. I propose that feelings of financial constraint lead consumers to spend their discretionary money on material goods rather than experiences. Specifically, I propose that financially constrained consumers are particularly concerned about the lasting impact of their purchase, leading them to seek out purchases that physically persist over time. Across six studies, I find that the consideration of financial constraints shifts consumers’ preferences toward more material (rather than experiential) purchases, and that this systematic shift is due to an increased concern about the longevity of the purchase. Moreover, this preference shift persists even when the material options are more frivolous than the experiential ones, indicating that the effect is not driven by an increased desire for sensible and justifiable purchases. However, the shift towards material purchases disappears when the material purchase is more short-lived, suggesting that longevity is the key driver in the proposed process.

Tully headshot

Stephanie Tully, winner of the 2013 dissertation competition

Stephanie says: “The process of entering the competition was a great way to force myself to put my dissertation proposal into a concise format. Although it was scary to have something at the proposal stage evaluated by external reviewers, the feedback I got was thoughtful and constructive. I’m really glad I did it!”


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