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Traversing the here and now: Effects of psychological distance and mental abstraction on consumer decision-making

This topic domain emphasizes the effects of human perception and thinking on consumer behavior. Specifically, tying in with research on construal level theory (Trope & Liberman, 2010 - Psychological Review), students who write a thesis in this topic domain will focus on the effects of psychological distance (i.e. how far away an action such as a purchase is from the current direct experience) and the mental level of abstraction (i.e. how concrete or abstract an object is represented mentally). Relevant research questions in this domain relate to preference shifts and behavioral inconsistencies that are, for example, evident in the attitude-behavior gap in sustainable and political consumption. Moreover, topics in this domain cover the consumption-relevant effects of different social relationships and perspective-taking.

Contact and supervision: Susanne Adler

Effects of sensory and contextual factors on consumer decision-making

How people experience their surroundings is a crucial factor in human decision-making. Precisely, even seemingly unrelated contextual cues, such as a product‘s relative position to other products, ambient temperature, or scent can affect consumer behavior considerably. This topic domain investigates how contextual cues, such as choice set composition or the decision environment, shape consumer decision-making and behavior. Research on this domain puts a special focus on how consumers perceive their environment, considers the sensory qualities of these surroundings, and assesses their impact on consumption-relevant outcomes such as product choice. In this domain, we also encourage research on social cues, such as the level of crowding and crowd compositions.

Contact and supervision: Susanne Adler

Introducing the science of science to consumer research: Bibliometric analyses on consumer research topics

Researchers increasingly rely on structured bibliometric reviews in addition to other synthesizing articles such as structured literature reviews and meta-analyses. Bibliometric research analyzes the underlying structures of scientific publications, for example, via co-authorship and citation analyses. Thereby, researchers achieve a bird-eye view on a research field and gain an overarching picture of larger patterns that may go unnoticed in articles with a narrower focus. Students who write a thesis in this topic domain will familiarize themselves with bibliometric methods and analyses to put them to use on a predefined topic section within the field of consumer behavior.

Contact and supervision: Susanne Adler

Effects of assortment organizations on consumers

This topic domain examines the effects of different assortment organizations on consumers’ decision-making. Products can be organized in many ways within categories, e.g., organized vs. random, brand vs. flavor, expected vs. unexpected or attribute-based vs. benefit-based, or across categories, e.g., complement-based vs. substitute-based, to influence consumers. Possible research questions in this topic domain include consumers’ perceptions of the assortment and the effect of these different perceptions on important marketing outcomes, such as product choice, purchase intention, and willingness-to-pay. Students who write a thesis in this topic domain are encouraged to examine the theoretical basis of consumer decisions, e.g., newness cuing or psychological distance.

Contact and supervision: Benjamin Maas

The impact of sustainable cues on consumers

Sustainability is becoming more and more important every day. This holds true for companies as well as for consumers. Therefore, companies and researchers try to boost sustainable consumption. A challenge to this goal is the intention-behavior gap of consumers that is the deviance between consumers’ attitudes (e.g. liking organic products) and behaviors (e.g. buying non-organic products due to their lower prices). Students who write a thesis in this topic domain are encouraged to consider psychological factors when examining sustainable cues’ effects on consumers, e.g., social influence or habit formation. Possible research questions include consumers’ perceptions of sustainable product attributes, e.g., sustainable labels or sustainable packages, and their impact on important consumer decisions, such as purchase intention and sustainable behavior change.

Contact and supervision: Benjamin Maas

Effects of psychological ownership on consumers

In recent years, the concept of psychological ownership has increasingly gained importance in marketing research. Psychological ownership describes a phenomenon when people feel that something material or immaterial is their property, irrespective of legal ownership. For example, people might mention “their” office chair although the chair is the property of a company. Possible research questions in this domain include the effects of psychological ownership on important marketing outcomes, e.g., word-of-mouth and willingness-to-pay. Students who write a thesis in this topic domain are encouraged to examine psychological ownership in relation to sports clubs.

Contact and supervision: Benjamin Maas

Measurement in marketing

Making good decisions requires marketing practitioners to have a sound understanding of how their activities impact consumers’ perceptions, attitudes, and intentions. Measuring such theoretical concepts therefore occupies a central position in marketing research. We offer various measurement topics related to, for example, higher-order constructs, the choice of measurement mode, and different operationalizations of constructs. Advanced topics deal with ways how to control for metrological uncertainty in marketing measurement. Students wishing to work in this field should have a basic understanding of psychometrics and factor-analytic research methods. Conceptual and empirical theses will be offered.

Contact and supervision: Marko Sarstedt

Research methods

Given the complexities of the processes involved in consumer research, methodological questions have long been of high interest to researchers working in the field. The Institute for Marketing has a strong background in structural equation modeling (SEM) techniques, which allow for estimating complex cause-effect relationships between constructs (e.g., brand image, corporate reputation, and customer satisfaction) and observable indicator variables. We offer a broad range of topics in this domain, covering various aspects related to partial least squares, which has become a standard SEM technique, but also other methods such as from machine learning. Topics in this domain comprise literature reviews, empirical papers, and simulation studies. Students interested in this domain should have a basic understanding of statistics; profound statistical knowledge is not required.

Contact and supervision: Marko Sarstedt

Science meets practice

Marketing is an applied research discipline, which seeks to answer real-world problems that companies face every day. We routinely collaborate with companies as part of Bachelor and Master theses, covering the entire range of marketing topics related to, for example, branding, service design, market research, social media marketing, and many more. The concrete topics in this domain depend on the current collaborations and supervision capacities at the Institute. Students should be interested in the practical application of their marketing knowledge. Theses in this domain are typically empirical in nature.

Contact and supervision: Marko Sarstedt