Initial impressions based upon a person’s facial features can significantly impact how we evaluate that person’s behavior, according to research by a professor from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
Dr. Brian Holtz, Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management, conducted three studies, all of which suggested that people were more likely to accept the actions of an individual whom they initially perceived to be trustworthy.
New York Magazine and the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail recently featured Holtz’s research, which was initially published in the journal Personnel Psychology.
Holtz’s studies draw on prior psychological research demonstrating that certain facial features stimulate impressions of trustworthiness (high inner eyebrows and prominent cheekbones), while others (low inner eyebrows and shallow cheekbones) have the opposite effect.
In his first two studies, Holtz introduced participants to the biography of a fictitious CEO, which included a professional headshot, and then asked participants to gauge the CEO’s trustworthiness. Later, the participants read a description of a meeting in which the CEO announced a temporary pay reduction and were asked to evaluate how the CEO handled the situation. The subjects, Holtz said, were unaware that he had manipulated the CEO’s image to reflect either a trustworthy or untrustworthy face.
He found that participants who viewed the trustworthy face, tended to give the CEO the benefit of the doubt and judge the CEO’s actions to be fair. In contrast, participants who viewed an untrustworthy face evaluated the same actions to be significantly less fair.
“In essence, these results illustrate a confirmation bias, such that our initial expectations of others are often confirmed,” Holtz said. “If we expect a person to be trustworthy, for example, then we are more inclined to perceive their behavior in a favorable light.”
Participants of his third study – undergraduate students from Temple University – were asked to write a business-related memo that they were led to believe would be evaluated by a Fox School MBA student. Before writing the memo, participants viewed the LinkedIn profile of an MBA student purportedly assigned to evaluate their memo. In reality the LinkedIn profiles were fabricated to present either a trustworthy or untrustworthy face. In addition to earning research credit, participants were told they could earn a cash bonus of up to $6 depending on the quality of their memo.
Two days after the initial session, participants received a written evaluation of their memo, and were informed that they would receive a $3 cash bonus – “an ambiguous, down-the-middle ranking,” Holtz said. Then, the participants completed a questionnaire designed to assess their view of the MBA student’s evaluation of their work.
“Again, the results suggested that initial impressions of trustworthiness shaped how fairly the participants thought they were treated by the MBA student, even though all participants received the exact same outcomes,” Holtz said.
“Ultimately,” he continued, “the key takeaway point from this research is that we form initial impressions very quickly and, for better or worse, our initial impressions can have cascading effects on how we perceive subsequent interactions with others.”
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a research team from Temple University a three-year grant totaling nearly $900,000 to fund a social-science project into the tracking of human behaviors through big data.
This marks the fourth NSF-awarded grant in the last five years that an interdisciplinary team of Temple faculty members has received to study the evolution of digital artifacts using large-scale digital trace data. The collaboration joins researchers from Temple University’s Fox School of Business and College of Science and Technology (CST).
“When humans interact with digital systems, we leave a trace. Every call we make, every website we visit, it’s stamped with time and space information,” said Dr. Youngjin Yoo, the Harry A. Cochran Professor of Management Information Systems at the Fox School, and the research grant’s primary investigator. “What we do is constantly changing, and the trace data can act as DNA. What we focus on through this research is the repeat behaviors in humans that can be captured through digital trace data.
“Using those evolutionary patterns, we believe we can predict future behaviors of individuals and organizations. For example, by detecting the changes of commute patterns of individuals, we can predict overall public-transit systems’ performance in the future. Similarly, we want to be able to predict the changes in individual behaviors based on environmental changes.
Yoo said he and the grant’s co-principal investigators will study digitally enabled processes in complex digital systems, which “are like a living ecosystem, in that they constantly evolve,” he said. If patterns in the trace data represent what they call “behavioral genes,” Yoo said, alterations to those behavioral routines are “gene mutations.” Eventually, he said, the research team envisions developing software that will better predict the changes to those behavioral genes.
The benefits in doing so, according to Yoo, “are endless.” In a healthcare application, trace data could develop a pattern by which a patient sees a doctor or produce an average cost of care per patient. In an industry sense, such “gene mutations” could impact performance and cost.
“On the surface,” Yoo said, “all smart phones, for example, look the same. But everybody’s phone is different because of apps. It used to be that the product’s designer would make the product, and that was the end of the story. Now, it’s only the beginning. Millions of apps are downloaded. They’re changing constantly.
“Our argument is that, particularly in digital space, innovation never remains the same. It constantly changes and takes different forms.”
The research team includes: Yoo; Dr. Sunil Wattal, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems at the Fox School; Dr. Zoran Obradovic, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Data Analytics at CST; and Dr. Rob Kulathinal, Assistant Professor of Biology at the College of Science and Technology.
The NSF-awarded research grant runs through Jan. 31, 2018.
Researchers at Temple University’s Fox School of Business have identified an area of the brain that can significantly better predict the success of TV advertising.
Professors Angelika Dimoka, Paul A. Pavlou and Vinod Venkatraman led the research study at Temple’s Center for Neural Decision Making at the Fox School of Business. The research team received a $286,000 research grant from the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), a non-profit group that provided TV ads from major sponsor companies in the consumer-goods, financial, technology, travel, and pharmaceutical industries.. The study sought to understand whether measures obtained in the lab when a small number of consumers watched these TV ads can predict the success of these ads in terms of increasing sales in the market.
Their research paper recently has been accepted for publication in the Journal for Marketing Research, a top marketing journal. They completed the study in collaboration with researchers from New York University, Duke University and the University of California, Los Angeles, who analyzed available sales and success data from the TV ads.
Fox School’s research team evaluated the responses of more than 300 participants to television advertisements using eight distinct methods: traditional surveys; implicit measures; eye tracking; heart rate; skin conductance; breathing; and brain activity, as measured by fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and EEG (electroencephalography).
“This is the first study to relate individual-level measures in the lab to market-level behavior,” said Venkatraman, lead author and Assistant Professor of Marketing. “We show that physiological and brain responses to a 30-second TV advertisement can provide reliable markers for evaluating its actual success in the market.”
“Based on our research and findings, from all seven neurophysiological methods, brain data collected using fMRI, were the most predictive,” added Angelika Dimoka, Director of the Center for Neural Decision Making, and an Associate Professor of Marketing. Specifically, we are able to show that activation in an area of the brain known as the ventral striatum, the reward center of the brain, can predict a TV ad success. The higher the activation in the ventral striatum, the higher the success of the TV ad. Nobody has ever been able to make such a linkage.”
The findings suggest that a key to a successful TV ad, Venkatraman noted, is the ability to increase the desirability of the product featured in the TV ad – a construct that is difficult to measure through the use of traditional, self-reported measures.
“A researcher might ask a test participant, more traditionally, ‘Do you like this ad? Are you likely to purchase this product?’” said Pavlou, Fox School’s Associate Dean of Research and Chief Research Officer. “While subjective measures like traditional questionnaires can still predict the success of TV advertising, the use of neurophysiological measures, especially fMRI, can almost double the power of our prediction.”
Dimoka, Pavlou and Venkatraman began their research December 2012, after meeting ARF officials at the second Interdisciplinary Symposium on Decision Neuroscience, spo nsored and hosted by the Fox School of Business. They concluded their testing and research six months later.
A professor from Temple University’s Fox School of Business found inspiration for her research in a rather unconventional place.
Inspired by the television show, Hoarders, Dr. Boyoun (Grace) Chae and co-author Dr. Rui (Juliet) Zhu found during a three-year research study that efficiency and persistence suffered among people whose work conditions were untidy.
Harvard Business Review recently featured the findings of their research study, which was originally published by the Journal of Consumer Research in April 2014.
“Hoarders, that’s where the idea started from,” said Chae, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School. “It’s a critical issue in society. Think about why people really cannot throw things away. I think it’s a reflection on peoples’ preoccupation with what they have. People buy products and they have control over what they consume, but, ironically, people are overwhelmed with their possessions.”
Chae and Zhu, of the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, China, exposed 100 test subjects to one of two work settings – either an organized desk, with papers and folders in order and shelves with properly arranged items, or an unorganized desk, with items strewn about carelessly.
Then, they conducted multiple tests during their research study. Among them was the persistence task, during which test subjects were required “to trace a geometric figure on a piece of paper without retracing any lines and without lifting the pencil from the paper,” they wrote. In their paper, Chae and Zhu describe the test as unsolvable. Subjects in the orderly office were one-and-a-half times more likely to stick with the task before quitting, Chae said. Those in the cleaner room attempted the challenge for an average of 1,117 seconds, while those in a disorganized setting gave up after an average of 669 seconds.
Other tests included: the stroop task, which measured the speed with which subjects could accurately respond to complex visual stimuli on a computer screen; and the willingness-to-pay task, another self-regulation measure which gauged the purchase intention of a subject with various products. Chae said subjects in the cleaner office responded to visual stimuli 10 to 15 percent more quickly than those in a more-chaotic room, “a quite significant finding,” she said.
“Writing a paper for a journal is purely academic, so to have our research appear in Harvard Business Review was a way for our research study and findings to be consumed by a much-wider audience,” Chae said. “We were delighted to take their call.”
The 4th Annual Interdisciplinary Symposium on Decision Neuroscience (ISDN) was held at Stanford University in California June 6-7, marking the conference’s first West Coast appearance. Temple University and the Fox School of Business, home to the first three ISDN conferences, was once again the key sponsor for the event.
The conference organizing committee included Drs. Angelika Dimoka and Vinod Venkatraman from Temple University, Dr. Uma Karmarkar from Harvard University, Dr. Baba Shiv from Stanford University, and Dr. Carolyn Yoon from University of Michigan.
A conference specifically catered to researchers and academics interested in decision neuroscience had not existed prior to 2009. That’s when Dr. Dimoka worked with contacts from similar research backgrounds to host the first Interdisciplinary Symposium on Decision Neuroscience.
With a well-attended and successful inaugural conference, organizers decided to host the event annually. Attendees of the ISDN conference included practitioners, researchers and academics across the neuroscience spectrum. The conference offered an opportunity to discuss study results and the best practices in their research work, as well as how to apply their results to clients and practitioners.
The ISDN is unique and aimed at a niche audience. The conference differs from a typical academic conference, at which faculty members simply present their research and receive feedback from other members.
“We invite practitioners to attend, because they are the people who translate the academic findings into solutions for real-world problems and business clients,” said Dr. Venkatraman, assistant professor of Marketing at the Fox School of Business, and co-organizer of the ISDN conferences. “We want practitioners and academic researchers to interact and network at the event, opening up opportunities for fruitful collaborations. The ISDN symposium is also a perfect opportunity for researchers and students interested in the decision neuroscience field to present their recent research findings and receive valuable feedback, as well as to network and form new research partnerships.”
Khoi Vo, a senior research associate at the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University, networked with practitioners during the ISDN conference, and discussed potential collaborative research work. Vo presented a paper during the conference on a research project that involved measuring the success of Super Bowl advertisements based on the activity of a consumer’s brain, using results found through fMRI studies.
“Part of my effort at the Center is to foster collaborative efforts with practitioners who are also interested in studying consumer decision making,” Vo said. “From our collaborations with industry, we have generated rich data sets that can provide valuable insights in this field. Though, it will be a challenge to integrate sensitive trade knowledge from industry with our data sets in peer-reviewed publications. Currently, we are in discussions to write up the results for the Super Bowl study.”
Vo also discussed the unique atmosphere of the conference.
“It was fascinating to see the potential research opportunities between academics and practitioners with respect to the research presented at the Symposium,” he said. “For the Super Bowl study that I co-presented with our industry collaborator, we received useful feedback from both academics and practitioners alike. More importantly, both groups were intrigued by our results and impressed that we did not make overstatements with these results. Overall, hearing positive feedback from leading academics and practitioners about our research was a great validation of not only our capabilities and efforts, but also of future collaborations.”
SangSuk Yoon, a Fox School of Business PhD student who works as a research assistant in the Center for Neural Decision Making, has attended the ISDN conference the past two years. Yoon presented a study he had completed with Dr. Venkatraman and Vo, in which they investigated the influences of aging on risky choices and its impact on decision-making.
“We received feedback from researchers in a variety of fields such as psychology, economics, business, and so on, which we’re taking into consideration to continue to develop our study further,” Yoon said.
Yoon, who recently attended an annual psychology conference of a larger scale, said the intimate size of the ISDN allowed for greater discussion.
“The psychology conference is relatively large, and although it allowed me to see studies from diverse fields, I barely had a chance to talk to any of the presenters,” he said. “At the ISDN conference I was able to discuss and share ideas with world-renowned presenters throughout the two days.”
– Diana David
Human beings are constantly engaging the five senses. But how does this sensory experience impact a consumer’s choice behavior?
This question was explored at the Fox School of Business’ first-ever sensory marketing conference, Understanding the Customer’s Sensory Experience. The conference was held on June 5th and 6th, at Alter Hall, home of Temple University’s Fox School of Business and School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
The conference focused on the nature of the five human senses, their role in affecting consumer behavior and emotion, and their application within a range of settings, including product and service design.
Fox School of Business marketing professor Maureen Morrin and School of Tourism and Hospitality Management professor Daniel Fesenmaier co-hosted the event.
Attendees included marketing and tourism research experts, doctoral students studying within these disciplines, executives of marketing firms, and industry professionals responsible for developing and improving the consumer experience.
“One of the main goals was to bring together both academics and practitioners who are interested in sensory marketing,” Morrin, Director of the Fox School of Business’ Consumer Sensory Innovation Lab, said. “Just getting industry professionals involved and having them see what we’re working on and researching, and to see what their problems are, I think, is helpful.”
At least one conference attendee plans to take advantage of the partnerships the conference established.
“It was extremely stimulating to bring together academics, people from [the] industry and specialists within each category,” Stephen Gould, a marketing professor at Baruch College, said. “As a professor, I plan to follow up with at least one of the industry presenters who I met at the conference.”
The conference was sponsored by the Fox School of Business, the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, and the National Laboratory for Tourism and eCommerce.
Events included a corporate panel led by executives from firms including Mane USA, Scents Marketing, ScentAir, and HCD Research. Another panel, composed of academic research laboratory directors, led discussions on how they established, operate, and fund their laboratories. Numerous research presentations were given, with topics ranging from multisensory processing, to product and packaging development.
Conference attendees left with many new ideas, thanks to the different perspectives offered by the presenters. Adriana Madzharov, of the Stevens Institute of Technology, felt that the combination of research presentations, corporate panels, and research laboratory discussions offered a unique and fulfilling experience.
“The conference presented a perfect combination and balance between these three very different approaches to studying sensory customer experiences,” Madzharov said. “Personally, the amount of knowledge and valuable contacts that I acquired in such a short time during the conference makes it for me the best professional experience so far.”