Gal Zauberman, a senior marketing scholar with expertise in consumer behavior and judgment and decision making, will join the faculty of the Yale School of Management in July 2015.
Zauberman is currently the Laura and John J. Pomerantz Professor of Marketing and Professor of Psychology at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Much of Zauberman’s research is focused on the role of time in judgment and decision making, examining how we perceive time and the effect of that perception on our choices. He is interested, he says, in “how we make decisions between things that will give us joy right now, or satisfy our needs right now, versus things that will satisfy our longer-term needs—for example, buying a new TV versus putting aside money and saving it for retirement.”
A 2009 paper in this area, “Discounting Time and Time Discounting: Subjective Time Perception and Intertemporal Preferences,” won two prestigious honors from Journal of Marketing Research: the 2010 Paul E. Green Award, which recognizes the potential for contribution to marketing research, and the 2014 William F. O’Dell Award, which recognizes the long-term impact of a paper published five years previously.
One familiar effect that Zauberman has examined is our tendency to think that we’ll have more time available to us in the future. We’re quick to agree to a lunch date if it’s a month off, he notes. “Then when the day comes, you say, ‘why did I agree? I’m so busy.’ Why is it that we don’t learn that we’ll be as busy Tuesday three weeks from now as we are this Tuesday?” This is part of a larger phenomenon called “perceived slack”: “The perception of slack, or the availability of a resource, tends to be biased. We always think we’re going to have more of a resource in the future than we do right now.”
Another area of Zauberman’s research focuses on the role of memory in how people evaluate experiences. He has found that we are strategic in how we protect memories in order to get the most pleasure from them. “Memories of experience are a tremendous source of utility,” he says. “People often avoid repeating certain experiences in order to preserve their original memories of them.” He has also examined how the act of photography—so common in the age of smartphone—changes how people experience and remember events.
Among the courses that Zauberman has taught at Wharton is The Psychology of Consumer Financial Decisions, a course that he designed using his own research and other research in the field. “We critically assess what we know and don’t know about various aspects of consumer financial decision making,” he says.
Ravi Dhar, the George Rogers Clark Professor of Management and Marketing and director of the Center for Customer Insights at Yale SOM, says that Zauberman will reinforce the school’s position as a center for behavioral research.
“Gal is one of the world's foremost researchers on consumer decision making,” Dhar says. “His strong interdisciplinary focus and shared interests with others at Yale will help us in sustaining the leadership position that SOM has built in behavioral science applied to consumer and management questions.”
Zauberman did his undergraduate work at Tel Aviv University and the University of North Carolina, where he studied economics and psychology, and received his doctoral degree at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. Before joining Wharton in 2006, he taught at Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina.