Faculty News

Three Faculty Get Endowed Chairs

As a professor of organizational behavior, Chip Heath asks questions like: What makes ideas succeed in the social marketplace, and how can people design messages to make them stick? Or: How do individuals, groups, and organizations make important decisions, and what mistakes do they make?

In April, Heath became the first faculty member named the Business School’s Thrive Foundation for Youth Professor of Organizational Behavior. Endowed by Robert Eliot King, MBA ’60, and his wife, Dorothy King, the chair is named for a foundation created by the couple to strengthen opportunities for youth. Heath, who joined the Business School faculty in 2000, is coauthor of the book Made to Stick, which explores why stories such as urban legends or conspiracy theories may stick in people’s minds while more important ideas go unnoticed.

In addition to the newly created chair, Dean Robert L. Joss announced at the spring faculty celebration dinner that two other faculty members had been named for their first time to existing endowed chairs. Peter Henry was named the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of International Economics, and Larissa Tiedens was named the Jonathan B. Lovelace Professor of Organizational Behavior.

Henry is associate director of the Business School’s Center for Global Business and the Economy, a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford, and a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Tiedens’ work explores the psychology of social hierarchies and the social context of emotion. She sits on the editorial boards of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Organization Science, and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Marketing Cues Signal Two Directions

Giving consumers verbal, visual, or cognitive cues can have opposite effects depending on the group these cues are aimed at, say researchers. For instance, tell men and women to shop for clothes. Men set out to get right to their goal of finding the needed item, while women see a “possibility-driven” experience with lots of room for browsing.

S. Christian Wheeler, associate professor of marketing, and Jonah Berger, PhD ’07 and assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School, used a study to verify their hunch about this. They asked one group of men and women to write about their thoughts and experiences when clothes shopping, and another to write about the geography of their state. Then each group was given a supposedly unrelated task—to describe how each would approach choices such as planning a trip in a new place.

Men who had been told to think about clothes shopping tended to make more purpose-driven choices on the trip question, while women were more possibility driven, Wheeler and Berger wrote in the Journal of Consumer Research. In sharp contrast, without the shopping prime women made more goal-oriented choices, such as sticking to the map, while men were more willing to be adventurous.

“This suggests that men and women behave in very different ways when they are stimulated to think about clothes shopping—and that such behavior is in contrast to how they ordinarily respond,” Wheeler says. “It’s a clear case of a single prime affecting two different groups in an opposite fashion.”