Consumer Behavior Research Paper Ideas For Middle School

,      Pages 213-221

, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration

This review of the published research in consumer behavior concludes that the area has been incompletely covered by the research effort. Most of the research attention has been given to prepurchase decision processes for brands. More fundamental consumer problems such as purchase of strategic products and budget allocation problems, as well as postpurchase phenomena in general, have been neglected. It is suggested that the bias in the research attention may be traced back to the dominance of a pragmatic marketing tradition in the area, encouraging emphasis on controllable aspects of the decision process.

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this paper is to make some general comments on selected aspects of consumer behavior research. Specifically, an attempt to be made to argue for more emphasis on theory based research on what is called "fundamental consumer problems".

The paper which builds on the draft of Chapter One in a forthcoming book tentatively titled Toward a Theory of Household Consumer Behavior, is organized as follows:

- The area of consumer behavior.

- Parties interested in consumer research.

- Critical comments on the consumer behavior literature.

- The task ahead.

THE AREA OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

Before proceeding to the discussion of the subject matter, it is necessary to state as clearly as possible what is meant by consumer behavior. In wider sense, consumer behavior problems are the problems encountered by members of society in the acquisition and realization of their standard of living. More specifically, consumer behavior may be defined as (1) the mental 'and physical acts of (2) individuals or organized groups of individuals concerned with ultimate consumption, (3) that relate to acquiring, using, and, in some cases, disposing of (4) economic goods and services (5) both from the private and the public sector.

In order to delineate the area of consumer behavior further, the various activities constituting "consumer behavior'' may be cross-classified by (1) what may be called stage in the buy-use continuum and (2) by level of process.

Many writers, such as Nicosia (1966), Engel, Kollat, and Blackwell (1968, 1973), Howard and Sheth (1969), Robertson (1971), and Hansen (1972) have viewed consumer decision making as a multistage, problem-solving process. Building on Engel, Kollat, and Blackwell (1968, 1973), the following stages may be distinguished. [It should be noted that Engel, Kollat, and Black-well (1968, 1973) are mainly interested in the purchasing process. Hence, they do not include steps 4 and 5 in the model below. Instead, the purchasing stage is followed by postpurchase evaluation and cognitive dissonance following in the wake of the decision.]

(1) Problem-recognition.

(2) Search for information to evaluate alternatives.

(a) Internal search.

(b) External search.

(3) Implementation of the purchase.

(4) Physical consumption.

(5) Postconsumption activities.

At the problem-recognition stage, the consumer becomes aware of a difference between the desired state with regard to the fulfillment of some consumer goal and the actual state. It seems reasonable to assume that this difference has to reach a certain threshold value in order to warrant further action.

If the discrepancy between the desired and the actual state is of a sufficient magnitude, the consumer will move into the second stage where information is sought to locate purchase alternatives, to clarify buying goals (evaluation criteria), and to determine to what extent the alternatives measure up to the goals. In this phase, the consumer may start by determining whether there is sufficient stored information that may be generalized to the problem at hand. If not, and the problem is important enough, the consumer may start an external search process, for instance by inspecting products directly (significative information) and/or by acquiring symbolic information representing the product by means of commercial mass media, word-of-mouth communications from other consumers, or information from neutral sources such as Consumer Reports.

In the implementation stage, the transaction process by which the right of property is transferred, is completed.

The fourth stage, physical consumption, is concerned with the use of the product or service to satisfy the buying goals. For non-durable goods and services, the consumption may be completed in a short time. For durables, such as appliances and houses, the consumption may occur continuously over many time periods. In practice, the actual physical depreciation in a given period may be hard to determine.

Finally, during or after actual consumption, the consumer may compare the degree of goal-fulfillment with the original expectations. The degree of satisfaction felt is then believed to be stored in the consumer's mind as part of an "attitude". This phase also contains attempts to cope with postpurchase regrets or cognitive dissonance, as well as activities to remove remainders of the goods consumed from the household, for instance in the form of garbage or a used car traded in.

The five-stage process should not be conceived of as being necessarily unidirectional in a simple fashion. First, it is reasonable to believe that there are feedback relationships between "later" and "earlier" stages. For example, postconsumption activities may affect problem-recognition processes in the next cycle. Second, the actual sequence of stages may deviate from the regular pattern. For instance, stage 3 may technically occur before stage 2b if a product is bought on trial as a first part of a search process.

The second dimension in our scheme, level of decision process, relates to the notion that certain decisions depend on other decisions. Important key purchasing decisions are believed to create constraints or criteria for subsequent minor decisions. Hence, decisions may be placed in a hierarchy on basis of the extent to which the decisions depend on other decisions. The levels suggested below build to some extent on the work of the Danish economist Karen Gredal (1964, 1966):

A. Acquisition of strategic items.

B. Central budget allocation decisions.

C. Generic product or service decisions.

D. Variant selection. [Gredal (1964, 1966) does not include level A -Acquisition of strategic items. On the other hand she has added a final level termed "the technical purchasing action". In this scheme, however, this level seems to correspond to the implementation stage in the stage dimension.]

Certain buying decisions are strategic in the sense that they are concerned with long-term bindings of resources. Hereby, they affect the budget available for other goods and services. Examples are expensive durable goods such as houses, cars, etc. Second, a decision may be considered strategic since purchase of one item usually entails purchase of other items. For instance, a well-to-do family may have a choice between sending their son or daughter to a prestigious private college, acquiring a cottage in a mountain resort, or moving to a more attractive neighborhood. In this case, choice of alternative would have important repercussions for other items to be purchased. For instance, the cottage alternative may result in acquisition of hiking equipment, fishing tackle, etc.

The central budget allocation decisions correspond to what Gredal (1964, 1966) terms "the general purchasing decision". The purpose of decisions at this level is to establish more or less explicit policies about the allocation of the available money among alternative groups of products and services. It is possible that, at this level, appropriation is first made for fixed expenses such as interest and installments for debts, costs of utilities, cost of maintenance of house, etc.

Level C, which parallels Gredal's (1964, 1966) notion of "the concrete purchasing decision", is concerned, as the term suggests, with selection of generic product and service categories and not, for instance, with the individual brands.

Selection of alternatives within each product or service group occurs at the fourth level, which in Gredal's (1964, 1966) terms is called "the selection decision''.

The four-level hierarchy presented here should not be thought of as a procedure that all consumers necessarily follow. It is conceivable that certain levels may be skipped. For instance, the decision maker may move directly from level B to level D, without making any generic product or service decision. However, the normal rule is that decisions at the higher levels in the hierarchy occur before and occur less frequently than decisions at the lower levels. Hence, our typology parallels the distinction between strategic decisions and operational decisions in the business management literature.

Figure 1 presents a dummy matrix showing the various cells when stages and levels in our system of consumer behavior are cross-classified. While all cells should not be considered being of equal importance as regards research, it is suggested that the research effort so far has been very lopsided. As indicated in Figure 1, it seems as if most of the published consumer research material has focused on cells D-1, D-2, and D-3. An attempt will be made to give a systematic explanation of this bias.

PARTIES INTERESTED IN CONSUMER RESEARCH

It is almost axiomatic that the research activities in any academic area do not occur in what may be called an "influence vacuum". The direction of the consumer research is believed not only to be influenced by consumer researchers themselves, but also by the interests and influences of other groups and institutions in society, who are current or potential users of consumer behavior knowledge.

This section will point out some of these interest groups of relevance for consumer research and tentatively suggest the nature of their interest in the subject matter. In Figure 2 below, the main goals and objectives for the most important groups are suggested. Second, building on the thoughts of Sommers (1971), the kind of validity searched for in the research questions raised is also suggested.

As pointed out by Sommers (1971), and as indicated in Figure 2, marketing managers tend to be governed by a prescriptive tradition, that is, determining the firm's strategy for a given product or brand. As the manager is normally rewarded on the basis of the economic consequences of his manipulations of the variables in the marketing mix, he is normally not interested in the research available per se, but in the extent to which knowledge about consumer behavior may be converted into profit-making practice. Hence, he is oriented toward the pragmatic validity of the relationships uncovered.

Similarly, commercial marketing researchers are often atheoretical in the approach taken as they perceive their role as providing managers with information bearing directly on the decisions to be made. Though researchers in many ways share other practitioners' pragmatic interest, they usually attempt to widen the scope of managers by moving further to more detailed descriptions of market behavior of consumers. Hereby, as stated by Sommers (1971), commercial marketing researchers are concerned with concurrent validity - making estimates of the magnitude of present behavior -and content validity - determining the fairness and accuracy of the measurements of the behavior of interest.

As regards academic consumer behavior researchers, Sommers (1971) claims that this type is concerned with questions like, "What is it that is working and how?", and that this interest in explanation of aspects of consumer behavior is tantamount to a concern with construct validity. However, the pragmatic orientation of marketers seems also to pervade this party in the sense that, so far, there has been little emphasis on theory building. The research effort has been biased because of an overemphasis on prepurchase variables. Therefore, the consumer researchers have so far been too influenced by the marketing management thinking and have not really reached the construct validity level.

To date, academic behavioral researchers in areas other than marketing have not played a major part in the development of the field. This party is very heterogeneous, and it is difficult to make meaningful generalizations. However, there appear to be two main differing schools of thought. First, there are "the traditionalists'' interested in explaining, predicting and theorizing about behavior - in other words, in construct validity. There is also a so-called "radical" school which is more interested in action than in description. Specifically, this tradition may be said to be oriented toward the emancipation of consumers from being objects manipulated by profit-seeking producers. In this sense, this party is interested in pragmatic validity, but from a standpoint opposite to that of marketing managers.

FIGURE 1

ELEMENTS OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

FIGURE 2

PARTIES INTERESTED IN CONSUMER BEHAVIOR, THEIR MAIN GOALS, AND TYPE OF VALIDITY DESIRED

The primary concern of the authorities in most countries is likewise with pragmatic action rather than with theory.

Consumer educators are in many ways similar to the "radical" academic behavioral scientists in the sense that their goal is to help consumers. However, in contrast to the latter group, this group is normally in immediate grass roots contact with consumers and work mainly within the present power structure.

Finally, there is the heterogeneous group of consumers who so far may have had little direct benefit from the research done. The research has been governed by consumer interests only to a small extent, and research reports have seldom been prepared for consumer audiences. In most cases, the target groups for research products have been other academicians or business firms. The object of this research has been neglected as a target group. One of the few marketing writers discussing how consumers might use consumer behavior knowledge is Nicosia (1969).

CRITICAL COMMENTS ON THE CONSUMER BEHAVIOR LITERATURE

A perusal of the literature in consumer behavior leaves little doubt that marketing has been the dominant contributing field. Only in marketing there has been anything approaching a research tradition. The few interdisciplinary ventures launched in consumer behavior have to a great extent been initiated and dominated by marketing academicians. For instance, the Association for Consumer Research founded in 1970, as well as the Journal of Consumer Research introduced in 1974, seem to support the marketing perspective of consumer behavior by several criteria. [For example, the editor plus about one-half of the members of the editorial board of the Journal of Consumer Research may apparently be classified as marketing men. Moreover, at least 6 out of the 9 articles in the first issue of the journal seem to be contributions in the marketing tradition.]

Therefore, the following comments will pertain particularly to marketing publications in consumer behavior. The comments are deliberately biased in the sense that they accentuate the shortcomings of the literature rather than the advances made.

In spite of the quantitatively impressive literature tonnage, the marketing contributions to consumer behavior seem to be flawed by six serious shortcomings:

- Neglect of consumer behavior with regard to the public sector.

- Fragmentation of the subject matter.

- Inadequate attention to consumer behavior of groups.

- Bias toward decision processes.

- Insignificant problems.

- Irrelevance of findings.

Neglect of Consumer Behavior with Regard to the Public Sector

This review of the consumer behavior literature shows that the research effort, with a negligible number of exceptions, has focused on the encounter of the consumer with the offerings of private sector of the economy. This means that the consumer behavior discipline has "defined away" the consumer problems relating to the functioning of important public services such as transportation, education, and health.

A possible reason for this self-imposed limit on the subject matter may be the general neglect of the public sector in most Western countries, a point raised provocatively by Galbraith (1958). However, a more plausible reason may be the marketing dominance of the consumer behavior field earlier pointed out. Since the public sector normally is not regulated by market mechanisms, marketing researchers may not have recognized "supply-demand" relations for public services as marketing problems.

One noteworthy attempt to broaden the scope of marketing and consumer behavior is the contribution of Kotler and Zaltman (1971) in applying marketing techniques and concepts such as "product", "promotion", and "price" to nontraditional areas such as family planning, fund-raising for medical research, and political campaigns. However, at its present stage of development, this "broadening" is more related to new uses of existing marketing techniques and philosophies rather than to the development of further knowledge of consumer behavior.

Fragmentation of the Subject Matter

Judged by the volume of output, the area of consumer behavior is healthy indeed. However, productivity is not the same as real progress. The great majority of the studies may be classified as non-cumulative empirical-analytical research investigations at the micro level. Most research studies have used what Nicosia (1966, pp. 11-12) calls "reduced form" models or selected constructs isolated from consumer behavior as a whole. As pointed out by Kollat, Engel, and Blackwell (1970, p. 328), consumer research projects tend to be "the result of the availability of data, the convenience of research and mathematical techniques, and/or the appeal of certain behavioral constructs. In other words, most research has been data-technique-construct motivated and oriented and has typically been conducted independently with little apparent coordination."

Such opportunism and reductionism have subordinated conceptualization and theory-building to measurement and manipulation of data by high-powered statistical tools. This has resulted in a large number of isolated facts, which lack consistency and which are difficult to integrate into formal comprehensive theories. Therefore, it is not difficult to agree with Sheth (1967, p. 742), who concluding his review of the buyer behavior literature, used the analogy of the seven blind men touching different parts of the elephant to characterize the level of theoretical development in the area.

Only a few of the books of consumer behavior contains attempts to formulate comprehensive theories integrating the field, see Nicosia (1966), Engel, Kollat, and Blackwell (1968, 1973), Howard and Sheth (1969), and Hansen (1972). However, there are publications dealing with selected aspects of consumer behavior such as social class, see Carman (1965); communications behavior, see Nowak, Carlman, and WSrneryd (1966); brand image and attitudes, see Myers (1968); and new product diffusion, see Robertson (1971). There are also a few comprehensive reviews of the literature such as Howard (1963) and Burk (1968) and the deep-plowing readings books published by Ward and Robertson (1973) and Sheth (1974) of original papers in consumer behavior research.

If we disregard textbooks such as Myers and Reynolds (1967), Markin (1969, 1974), Sandell (1969), Bliss (1970, Robertson (1970), Walters and Paul (1970), Bennett and Kassarjian (1972), and Walters (1974), the rest of the books uncovered are readings books, presenting papers from general symposia of consumer behavior, see Clark (1955a, 1958), Newman (1966), Arndt (1968), Sommers and Kernan (1968), Gardner (1971), Venkatesan (1972), Ward and Wright (1974), and Schlinger (1975); symposia on various aspects of consumer behavior, see Clark (1955b), Foote (1961), Adler and Crespi (1966, 1968), King and Tigert (1970), and Haley (1972); or organized research programs, such as Cox (1967) and Farley, Howard, and Ring (1974). The remainder is simply more or less logically organized readings books of papers already published. Examples are Bliss (1963, 1967), Grossack (1964), McNeal (1965), Britt (1966, 1970a, 1970b), Kassarjian and Robertson (1968, 1973), Engel (1968), Kollat, Blackwell, and Engel (1970), Aaker and Day (1971), Day and Ness (1971), Holloway, Mittelstaedt, and Venkatesan (1971), Cohen (1972), Gr°nhaug (1972), and Howard and Ostlund (1973). While such proliferation of readings may have provided a temporary relief to authors threatened by the "publish or perish" syndrome, it has added little to the structuring of the field.

In conclusion, there is little doubt that the fragmentation of the subject matter is a symptom of the absence of adequate theoretical underpinnings in the area which could give direction and meaning to empirical research. Hence, in reiterating the need for comprehensive, integrative theory-building, the present writer joins reviewers such as Perloff (1968), Kollat, Engel, and Blackwell (1970), Kollat, Blackwell, and Engel (1968), Pollay (1972), and Robertson and Ward (1973a, 1973b), as well as apparently even the majority of the membership of the Association for Consumer Research, see Ford, Kuehl, and Dyer (1975).

Inadequate Attention to Consumer Behavior of Groups

The few existing attempts to formulate integrative models of consumer behavior - Nicosia (1966), Engel, Kollat, and Blackwell (1968, 1973), Howard and Sheth (1969), and Hansen (1972) - have approached consumer problems at the individual, rather than at the group level. With the exception of discussion in Hansen (1972, pp. 409-431), the problems of moving from behavior at the individual level to having groups of consumers as the unit of study have been more or less ignored. However, both from the studies in intra-familial decision-making, see Davis and Rigaux (1974), and the diffusion of innovation studies, see Rogers and Shoemaker (1971), it seems clear that it is theoretically incorrect to model group processes simply by adding individual behavior. While in the future the behavior of individuals is still expected to be of interest to the consumer behavior theorist, theories should also be constructed at the group level.

Bias toward Decision Processes

The area is also flawed by the shortcoming of overemphasis on decision processes and what may be called "short-term effects of marketing mix" studies. As was concluded above, this means neglect of what happens after purchase including the consequences of consumption, both for the decision unit itself and for the greater society. For instance, the possibility that obesity may activate diabetes, should not be considered a problem of medicine only. To the extent that this is a problem caused by certain patterns of consumption, it should also be of interest to consumer behaviorists. Similarly, a neglect of consequences occurs at the macro level. For instance, Feldman (1971, p. 55) charged the marketing discipline of failure to recognize that (the) "products, which are marketing outputs designed for individual satisfaction, are simultaneously inputs to a larger environmental system and as such may affect the well-being of society".

Insignificant Problems

Another bias in the research is the preoccupation with decisions that would appear to be of minor interest to the consumer, such as brand choice for convenience goods, and the corresponding neglect of more fundamental decision areas. While research attention has been given to issues like the proverbial 1-ply vs. 2-ply toilet tissue decision, more important areas such as the emergence of new value systems and their consequences, and problems relating to nutrition of disadvantaged consumer groups have to a great extent been ignored.

Irrelevance of Findings

This myopia and exaggerated pragmatism have led to what seems to be a sixth main shortcoming - irrelevance of the findings. The production of isolated facts and relationships by testing narrow hypotheses not derived by theoretical considerations seems to have resulted in a data base which not only is trivial, but also is irrelevant, and hence is not much applicable as basis for managerial action. [A good illustration of this aspect of the state of the art is found in Tigert's (1972) scathing critique of one of the winners of the American Marketing Association's 1969-70 Doctoral Dissertation Competition. While crediting the researcher for competence in statistics and knowledge of research methods, Tigert claims that neither he nor the author knows what to do with the results of the analysis - clusters of consumers extracted by cluster analysis. Tigert concludes in no uncertain terms, "That his talents have been wasted on a fruitless exercise is scandalous, a total disaster .... Gentlemen, the name of the game is relevance. How can we expect the business community to support doctoral research if we continue to work on trivial problems?'']

The Image of Man in Consumer Research

In conclusion, the image of man as a consumer emerging from the consumer behavior literature is in many ways reminiscent of Kover's (1967) model of man as defined by commercial marketing research:

Man is alone, an isolate.

Man is passive.

Man is mainly concerned with publicly acceptable needs and appearance.

Men's reactions can be explained or classified by their styles of life - by earnings, age, sex and education.

Products and services are important in meeting the needs of man.

People can adequately express their feelings about advertising and products.

Although the consumer can talk clearly and at length about products, he does not know what these beliefs mean and which beliefs affect him most.

Moreover, to this might be added:

Man is concerned with present rather than with future needs.

Man is mostly interested in minor decisions such as brand selection. More basic decisions are of minor importance.

It is tempting to conclude that this state of the art may to a large extent be due to the domination of the marketing perspective in the current thinking on consumer behavior. Little imagination is needed to see the similarity between the one-dimensional consumer depicted above and the docile super-consuming being believed to the ideal customer from the producers' viewpoint. Hence, normative and positive models of consumers may have converged.

THE TASK AHEAD

By several criteria, the consumer behavior area gives the impression of having become a science in its own right. The area has a rapidly growing professional organization, at least one specialized journal, and an exponentially increasing body of literature, and enjoys the academic autonomy of being represented by specialized university courses. Several writers, among them Nicosia (1969), Kollat, Blackwell, and Engel (1972), and Sheth (1974), have noted the impressive gains in systematic knowledge in the area. In the words of Tucker (1968, p. 267), consumer behavior has broken away from pseudo-discipline. Sheth (1974) is even so optimistic as to suggest that within a decade, the area may begin to reverse the flow of borrowing by "exporting'' consumer behavior theory both to the more mature and to the less mature social sciences.

However, an evaluation of the state of the art of an area must deal primarily with its present status, and not with its humble beginnings or with its conceivable future potentials. And in this respect, it has been concluded that consumer behavior has yet to establish the theoretical cohesiveness and the unique research tradition indicative of a mature discipline. The very fact that the question of whether or not consumer behavior is a science or a unique discipline is constantly and self-consciously asked, signals lack of self-confidence and professional adolescence.

Commenting on the academic autonomy of the area of consumer behavior, writers such as Tucker (1968) and Kassarjian and Robertson (1968, p. 2) define consumer behavior as a part of the marketing decision-making system. Sheth (1974, p. 395), on the other hand, views consumer behavior as a unique area, which is a subsystem neither of marketing nor of any of the existing social sciences. In the opinion of the present writer, the claims of uniqueness for the consumer behavior area are hardly substantiated, in view of the apparent dependence on the marketing discipline for the perspectives and goals of the area, and the almost complete indebtedness to the behavior sciences for conceptual and methodological tools.

Therefore, as pointed out by Pollay (1972, p. 595), there is so far too much evidence of disciplinary immaturity in consumer behavior: proliferation of theories or partial theories, expressions of disagreement over the priority of problems, a faster growth in complexity than accuracy, and professional insecurity among researchers in the area. In the terms of Kuhn (1962), consumer behavior is still a field of study in a pre-paradigm state.

Symptomatic of the present situation is the identity crisis of many consumer behaviorists confronted with what Robertson and Ward (1973b, p. 60) call the pay-off dilemma - the fact that consumer researchers seek to engage in theoretical research and at the same time to meet the need for immediately actionable results of dominant user groups such as marketing practitioners. It follows from the criticism in this paper that few consumer behaviorists have handled this role conflict satisfactorily. Hence, it is no wonder that the nagging question of relevance keeps popping up: Are the results produced by current consumer research relevant to the problems faced by marketers as well as consumers, both at the micro and macro level?

To advance the state of the art, several suggestions have been made. Pollay (1972, p. 595) has suggested that a possible reason for the state of consumer research is the fact that the area may not have attracted the top caliber scholars. Though it is hard to quarrel with the contention that, with a few exceptions, the consumer behavior area gives the impression of being mainly occupied by "little thinkers", it is still somewhat fatalistic to wait passively for a Messiah to appear.

One possibility suggesting itself is to continue the production of research results in the present "anarchical'' fashion by gradually sharpening the tools of measurement and analysis and hoping that knowledge will develop in a cumulative fashion. However, in the development of sciences, development-by-revolution is often more important than development-by-accumulation, at least in the natural science areas, see Kuhn (1962). Therefore, research productivity should not be mistaken for genuine progress. There is little basis for any hope that the sheer persistence in the data gathering may eventually lead to conceptual breakthroughs. Nor is it realistic to expect that in the "market-place of research", the "good research" will eventually drive out the "bad research". So far in consumer research, Gresham's law has apparently easily neutralized the law of Darwin. However, not deviating much from the present research tradition, it is possible to advance consumer research by following the advice of Glock and Nicosia (1963, pp. 25-26) who advocated more attention to studies of strategic populations, that is observations of consumers as they are in the midst of making not one choice, but a wide variety of choices. Examples of this approach are studies of consumers who have just moved to a new area (Andreasen, 1966; and Bell, 1969), consumer socialization studies (Ward, 1974), and studies of total leisure time activities, see the papers in the 1974 Conference of the Association for Consumer Research (Schlinger, 1975).

Kollat, Engel, and Blackwell (1970), and Kollat, Black-well, and Engel (1972) propose establishing research priorities, that is identifying what aspects of consumer behavior that are of the greatest importance and what phenomena need to be investigated so that these key areas can be understood. Similarly, Pollay (1972) suggests organized research programs. Though it is hard to quarrel with the logic of this position, it is clear that this solution is less than complete as long as critical questions remain unanswered: Who are to determine the research priorities? What criteria should be used to evaluate the potential importance of an aspect of consumer behavior? And who should be the reference group when deciding on importance - marketers, consumers, consumerist advocates, or government? Another caveat against premature programming is that a uniformed effort may magnify consequences of mistakes made.

Several writers including Sheth (1967), Pollay (1972), and Zaltman, Pinson, and Angelmar (1973) have made a convincing case for more emphasis on metatheoretic aspects of theory building, that is for development of a rigorous thinking methodology to evaluate theories. Yet, while the present achievements and future potentials of metatheory are not to be denied, the main problems as of now in consumer behavior are problems of content and substance of theory rather than its form.

Past theories give the impression of having been constructed by merging empirical findings from narrow research studies with borrowed behavioral science findings and concepts. This build-up approach to theory construction together with the marketing frame of reference dominating the area, may partly be responsible for generating the instrumental, passive model of man depicted in the last section.

As soon as possible, a challenge should be made to the dominating positivistic research philosophy, with its main emphasis on data gathering and data analysis. What is above all needed is a new vision of consumer behavior - a specification of the domain of consumer behavior broadening the field of study and revising the current explicit and implicit research priorities. The "self-evident" orientation toward marketing practitioners as the key reference group could well be replaced by an endorsement of a true consumer frame of reference. To follow the advice of Perloff (Twedt, 1965, p. 266) for consumer psychologists, consumer researchers should seek directly and explicitly to serve the consumer's needs, to study the consumer as a consumer rather than as an individual whose attention and purchasing behavior are coveted to maximize profits. This means that research priorities should be governed by the relative importance of the unsolved problems for the consumer. Some clues to the relative importance may be found in the conceptual framework implicit in the level of decision process/stage in the buy-use continuum presented above in this paper. If the monetary and social importance of the decision to the consumer is to be the main criterion, this would mean more emphasis on what was called acquisition of strategic items and central budget allocation decisions. At the macro level, socially important issues such as the social and ecological consequences of consumption structures should also be defined as legitimate areas for study of the consumer behaviorists.

It may be that a chief cause of the paucity or absence of theoretical underpinnings in consumer behavior is its status as having mainly been a part of marketing. As long as consumer behavior remains an appendage of marketing, it will be under pressure to remain an applied field, concerned with the delivery of existing knowledge to solve marketing problems. Since an applied orientation almost by necessity must be in conflict with aspirations of building a solid theoretical base, perhaps consumer behavior may only become of discipline in its own right by cutting its umbilical cord to marketing. Such an emancipation may contribute to solve the pay-off dilemma of consumer behavior researchers by removing the pressure to produce managerially actionable results, and hence to allow an all-out effort on conceptualization. Analysis of buyers from marketing's viewpoint should remain within marketing and could be given the more appropriate term "customer analysis".

In the short run, the results of such a broadened, theory-based consumer behavior discipline may appear to fail the immediate action needs of marketers. In the long run, however, it is possible that the insights gained by more fundamental theories may well turn out to be even more actionable than the current narrower models.

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Farley, John U., John A. Howard, and L. Winston Ring (Eds.) Consumer Behavior: Theory and Application. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1974.

Feldman, Laurence P. "Societal Adaptation: A New Challenge for Marketing," Journal of Marketing, 35 (July 1971), 54-60.

Foote, Nelson N. (Ed.) Household Decision-Making. Consumer Behavior, Vol IV. New York: New York University Press, 1961.

Ford, Gary T., Philip G. Kuehl, and Robert P. Dyer. "The Status of Consumer Behavior: Some Empirical Perspectives,'' in Mary J. Schlinger (Ed.), Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 2. Chicago: Association for Consumer Research, 1975, 51-61.

Galbraith, John K. The Affluent Society. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Company, 1958.

Gardner, David M. (Ed.) Proceedings. 2nd Annual Conference. College Park, Maryland: Association for Consumer Research, 1971.

Glock, Charles Y. and Francesco M. Nicosia. "Sociology and the Study of Consumers," Journal of Advertising Research, 3 (September 1963), 21-7.

Gredal, Karen. Moderne forhrugeres motiver og adferd. K°benhavn: Einar Harcks Forlag, 1964.

Gredal, Karen. "Purchasing Behaviour in Households," in Max Kjaer-Hansen (Ed.), Readings in Danish Theory of Marketing. K°benhavn: Einar Harcks Forlag, 1966, 84-100.

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Haley, Russell I. (Ed.) Attitude Research in Transition. Chicago: American Marketing Association, 1972.

Hansen, Flemming. Consumer Choice Behavior: A Cognitive Theory. New York: The Free Press, 1972.

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Alex Anderson
Associate Professor

My research focuses on the nutrition of women and infants, infant and young child feeding, breastfeeding promotion and protection, growth of infants and children, body composition of infants, children and pregnant women, as well as community and international interventions for nutrition and health. I have expertise in both qualitative, quantitative and nutritional research methods. I am currently involved in a multi-site research project evaluating parental practices supporting positive eating behaviors during independent eating occassions among early adolescent children. I am also in the early stages of a collaborative study examining barriers to healthy weight management among women of childbearing age in Ghana. For more information, see the Maternal and Child Nutrition Laboratory.

Full Biography

Leslie Anderson
Ph.D. MFT Student and Graduate Assistant

My research interests broadly center around prevention-intervention programming for at-risk African American children and adolecents through family-centered approaches. I am specifically interested in positive racial identity formation in African American children and ethnic-racial socialization processes in African American families. My research endeavors are influenced by critical race theory and a firm commitment to social justice work.

Full Biography

Patricia Annis
Associate Professor

My primary research area is the development of methods and instrumentation for the analysis of textile materials.  Our laboratory has designed, constructed, and tested a machine called the Robotic Transfer Replicator.  This machine is capable of reproducibly transferring microorganisms, allergens, and other toxic particulates from carpet, smooth floors, upholstery, and drapery to skin-like materials. The data from these transfers are being used to determine how transfer is affected by the properties of the materials and the particulates and microorganisms.  My laboratory also provides various textile analyses for commercial textile firms. 

Full Biography

Sophia Anong
Assistant Professor

I am very interested in the impact of mobile finance (transfers as well as payments) particularly mobile money through non-bank providers in African countries. This is mostly from the point of view of consumer empowerment in using mobile technology for financial access and transactions.I am also interested in financial knowledge and education, and relationships between financial vulnerability, health-related decisions, and health status, and how they vary across socioeconomic groups.

Full Biography

Stephanie Armes
Doctoral Candidate (MFT Emphasis), Graduate Research Assistant

Previous academic research has focused on military families post-deployment, compassion fatigue in therapists, and problem-solving processes and marital quality of African American married couples over time. Before becoming a graduate student, I participated in community-based research with chronically homeless individuals, which led to support for the development of a homeless shelter in downtown San Diego, CA.

Full Biography

Peter Attridge
Graduate Student

Peter is interested in replicability in psychological research, Father engagement and developmental outcomes with young children, and Grandparents as primary caregivers particularly with dependents who have mental health diagnoses. 

Full Biography

Danielle Augustine
Ph.D. Student & Graduate Research Assistant

Danielle Augustine is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciene. She received her Bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Science from the University of Georgia in 2015. Her research focuses broadly on the impact of immigration on older families. More specifically, she is interested in studying intergenerational relationships within the context of culture. Recently, she analyzed qualitative data gathered from transnational Filipino couples about their migration and settlement experiences in the United States.

Full Biography

Patryk Babiarz
Assistant Professor

My research interests include household financial well-being, consumer economics, and health economics. In my recent research projects I investigated the impact of college financial aid policy on household portfolio composition, the role of adverse health events on household finances, the impact of intra-household distribution of bargaining power on income protection through life insurance, various aspects of financial literacy and its role on economic behavior, as well as health effects of economic recessions.

Full Biography

Lynn Bailey
Department Head, Professor

Folate status and metabolism, maternal health, fetal development.

The Folate Research Group conducts clinical research in women of reproductive age to assess the metabolic and epigenetic response to changes in folate intake. The primary objective of the folate-related research studies is to provide research evidence on which revised folate-related public health recommendations can be based. The long-range goal of the Folate Research Program is to optimize maternal health and fetal development and growth.

Full Biography

Diane Bales
Associate Professor and Extension Human Development Specialist

I conduct applied research to evaluate the effectiveness and short- and long-term impact of outreach programs on early brain development, healthy eating and physical activity for young children, appropriate use of technology in early childhood education, and other topics. 

Full Biography

Apurba Banerjee
Graduate Teaching Assistant

Sustainable polymers, biodegradable plastics , polysaccharide based textile printing, smart textiles

Full Biography

Staci Belcher
Research Professional

Staci is conducting her master's research in the Bone and Body Composition Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Lewis. 

Full Biography

Alison Berg
Assistant Professor and Extension Nutrition and Health Specialist

Alison's current research involves evaluating community education programs to improve nutrition for the prevention and management of chronic disease, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. 

Full Biography

J. Bermudez
Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy and Human Development and Family Science

Latino/a family dynamics, the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality among Latinos, narrative family therapy, and feminist informed therapy and research

Full Biography

Vibha Bhargava
Evaluation Specialist, SNAP-Ed

  • Health and Health Care Decision Making
  • Obesity
  • Demand for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  • Health and Wealth dynamics

Full Biography

Gajanan Bhat
Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Fibers and Textiles and Department Head

After earning his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech in textile and polymer engineering, Dr. Bhat joined the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) in August 1990, where his research covered nonwovens - melt blown, spunbonded and biodegradable, plastics recycling, nanotechnology, sustainable materials, and high performance fibers. As the director of UTNRL he has focused on production of nanofibers from thermoplastic polymers by meltblowing. Recently he joined UGA as the Head of the TMI department. Dr. Bhat has published more than 200 research papers and has three US Patents. He has served as the president of the Fiber Society and is also an active member of INDA, TAPPI and the Textile Institute. 

Full Biography

Whitney Bignell
Limited-term Clinical Assistant Professor (Dept. of Health Policy and Management)

Whitney Bignell is investigating the impact of an online collaborative case-based learning curriculum on students' knowledge, skills, and attitudes about obesity prevention and treatment.

Full Biography

Leann Birch
William P. "Bill" Flatt Childhood Obesity Professor

Leann Birch, Ph.D. is William P. Flatt Professor in the Department of Foods and Nutrition at The University of Georgia. Her research focuses on individual and contextual factors affecting the development of individual differences in the behavioral controls of food intake and obesity risk among infants, children, and adolescents. In recent years, her research has focused on conducting randomized controlled trials, which have been successful in reducing early obesity risk. These interventions, designed to influence maternal caregiving, infant feeding, sleeping, and crying, prevented excessive weight gain in infancy and reduced the prevalence of overweight during infancy and early childhood. She is the author of more than 250 publications and has been awarded more than $30 million in federal research funding. Dr. Birch received her PhD in Psychology from the University of Michigan and served on the faculty at the University of Illinois and the Pennsylvania State University before joining the UGA faculty in 2014. For more information, see the Maternal and Child Nutrition Laboratory.

Full Biography

Kyle Bower
Ph.D. Candidate

Kyle's research focuses on how marginalized populations, specifically individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/gender non-conforming (LGBT) negotiate formal and informal care options in late life.

Full Biography

Don Bower
Professor Emeritus and Extension Specialist

Dr. Bower's research focuses on the effectiveness and impact of a variety of community-based educational outreach initiatives.  In particular, these include parenting education, adolescent development, gerontology, and childhood injury prevention.

Full Biography

Gene Brody
Distinguished Research Professor of Human Development and Family Science

My research focuses on those family and school processes that are linked with academic and psychosocial competence among children and adolescents.  The contributions of parent-child relationships, sibling relationships, and classroom experiences during elementary and junior high school are of particular interest.

Full Biography

Geoffrey Brown
Assistant Professor

I am interested in social and emotional development in infancy and early childhood. My research has focused on the ways in which family relationships may mutually influence one another, and the contributions of family functioning to children's early development. I have a particular interest in fathering, and much of my research has explored the development of the early father-child relationship. Past work has examined the correlates of father involvement, paternal sensitivity, and father-child attachment security. Relatedly, I have also explored aspects of triadic (mother, father, and child) family interactions as important contexts for adaptive family functioning and child development. I am also interested in the role that family relationships play in the development of young children’s self-concepts. My current research is examining father-child relationships, emotion socialization, and children’s representations of attachment figures in diverse populations. It is my hope that this work will continue to make important contributions to our understanding of the family system as a crucial context for the social and emotional development of young children from a variety of racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Full Biography

Chalandra Bryant
Professor

I am currently examining the marital relationships of newlywed African American couples. The primary goal of this longitudinal research is to examine the effect of social, familial, economic, occupational, and psychological factors on marital and health outcomes, as couples transition through the newlywed phase of their relationships. Given that relatively little is known about (a) the marital relationships of African Americans, (b) the impact of distinct stressors experienced by African Americans, and (c) the interrelationship between health and marriage among African Americans, it is important to conduct a within-group study in order to carefully examine these issues.

Full Biography

Morgan Bryant
Doctoral Candidate/Graduate Assistant

Interest and experience with qualitative and quantitative research methods, particularly focused on social media platforms, and social commerce constructs. Strong emphasis in analytics and research methods, supplemented by 13+ years of prior professional experience in decision analysis and consumer market research. 

Full Biography

Matthew Carlson
Doctoral Candidate (MFT Emphasis)

Matthew Carlson earned his MS in Family Sciences at the University of Kentucky in 2013.  He has been practicing marriage and family therapy since 2012 and is a licensed associate marriage and family therapist in the state of Georgia. 

Matthew is currently a PhD candidate in the Marriage and Family Therapy program in the Human Development and Family Sciences department at the University of Georgia. 

Matthew’s research focuses on child sexual abuse, sexual revictimization, and family/community contexts.  His mentor is Dr. Assaf Oshri and he is a part of the Youth Development Institute.  

Full Biography

Mary Carlson
Adjunct Faculty

My research centers around financial behavior, financial counseling, coaching, and therapy. 

Full Biography

Andy Carswell
Associate Professor

  • Residential Property Management
  • Homeownership
  • Mortgage Options
  • Mortgage Fraud

Full Biography

Margaret Caughy
Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Family Health Disparities

Dr. Caughy’s research combines the unique perspectives of developmental science, epidemiology, and public health in studying the contexts of risk and resilience affecting young children. She is particularly interested in race/ethnic disparities in health and development and how these disparities can be understood within the unique ecological niches of ethnic minority families. Dr. Caughy has been the principal investigator of several studies focused on how inequities in family and community processes affect the cognitive development, socioemotional functioning, and early academic achievement of young children in diverse race/ethnic groups. Another theme of her research has been methodological, specifically methods related to measuring neighborhood context and the utilization of these measures in models explaining child developmental competence using multilevel and structural equations modeling methods. 

Full Biography

Yasemin Cava Tadik
Ph.D Student & Graduate Researh Assistant

I am interested in family relationships among immigrants, and impacts of father involvement on marital quality among first-time parents. 

 

 

Full Biography

Carolina Cawthon
PhD Candidate

Carolina is conducting her research in the Gastrointestinal Neurophysiology Lab under the direction of Dr. Claire de La Serre.

Full Biography

Swarn Chatterjee
Associate Professor, Graduate Coordinator

My research focuses on three primary areas: Performance evaluation across different stages of the financial planning process; Examination of the association between financial well-being, welfare dependency, and health among underserved populations; and Identification of factors that improve financial decision making among transitioning young adults and the elderly households.

Full Biography

Lauren Coheley
Ph.D. Student

Lauren's research interests include musculoskeletal development, body composition, cardiometabolic health and inflammation. 

Full Biography

Jamie Cooper
Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator

Dr. Cooper's research encompasses a number of areas ranging from human obesity to athletic performance. Her primary research interests are aimed at addressing metabolic and satiety hormone responses to different nutrients and/or exercise in humans. For more information, see the Human Nutrition Laboratory.

Full Biography

Caree Cotwright
Assistant Professor

Childhood Obesity Prevention in schools and child care settings, Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policy, Theater Based Nutrition Intervention

My research agenda focuses on promoting wellness best practices and policies in the ECE setting. The aim of my work is to: 1) assess current wellness practices in the ECE setting; 2) create training and interventions for child care providers and child care food service staff to increase healthy eating, wellness education, and physical activity in the ECE setting; and 3) assist ECE settings with creating wellness policies and plans of action to sustain changes long term. The overall goal of my work is to create healthy ECE environments to prevent obesity in our youngest children ages (0-5), while working to decrease health disparities among low-income and minority populations. For more information, visit the Childhood Obesity/Nutrition Intervention Laboratory.

Full Biography

Ginnefer Cox
Assistant Professor

Dr. Cox’s research interests include sensory evaluation and product development, with an emphasis on ingredient reduction (sodium, fat, sugar) and utilizing functional ingredients and value-added foods. For more information, see the Sensory Evaluation and Product Development Laboratory. 

Full Biography

Brenda Cude
Professor, Undergraduate Coordinator

My current research focuses on college students' financial literacy. What makes a college student financially literate? What's the most reliable way to measure their financial literacy? How much difference would having more financial knowledge make for college students' financial behaviors? How do personality characteristics influence students' financial decisions?

I also am interested in research related to online consumer behaviors, consumer information, and consumer policy

Full Biography

Claire de La Serre
Assistant Professor

Dr. de La Serre investigates the pathways by which diet composition affects energy balance. She is particularly interested in the influence of energy-dense diets on gut microbiota composition, gastrointestinal (GI) functions and inflammation. She studies how changes in microbiota composition can affect gut-brain signaling to promote overeating. Her laboratory uses animal models and studies phenomena from the behavioral aspect to the molecular pathway. For more information, see the Gastrointestinal Neurophysiology Laboratory.

Full Biography

Jenee' Duncan
Doctoral Candidate

In general, my research interests include couple and marital relationship processes. I am specifically interested in contextual and dyadic influences that promote the formation and stability of healthy marriages among African Americans. In addition, I seek to understand how educational and outreach services can support these unions.

Full Biography

Erinn Duprey
Ph.D. Student

My research aims to examine the socioemotional outcomes of early childhood adversity, with special attention to mental health outcomes and suicide-related behaviors among adolescents and young adults. A developmental psychopathology perspective is utilized to address these aims, and a multilevel systems approach is integrated in order to consider how biological and contextual processes influence socioemotional development. 

Full Biography

Heidi Ewen
Assistant Professor

My expertise is in aging-in-place and relocation research; stress, coping, and adaptation; and I have experience with advanced statistics and analyzing longitudinal datasets. I have a graduate certificate in statistics along with my master's and doctoral degrees. I have successfully collected, analyzed, interpreted, presented and published manuscripts on residential relocation, aging, and adaptation to senior housing.  
 

Full Biography

Xi Fang
Ph.D. Student

Xi Fang is conducting her research with Dr. Park looking in phytochemicals and its obesity-preventive and neuro-protective effects using animal and cell model. For information regarding my research, see the Bioactive Compounds and Health Laboratory.

Full Biography

Andrea Farnham
Doctoral Candidate, emphasis in Family Therapy

Research focuses sexuality and couple relationships as well as the intersection of race, class, gender on the expression of intimacy in close romantic relationships. 

Full Biography

Kendall Farr
Accelerated MS Student

Kendall is currently working as a research assistant under the direction of Dr. Jamie Cooper in the Human Nutrition Laboratory. The research is focuses mainly on obesity and the effects of different high fat diets on metabolism and hunger/satiety hormones.

Full Biography

Joan Fischer
Professor Emerita

Dr. Fischer studies the role of bioactive compounds from plant foods in the reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation associated with the development of chronic diseases. For more information, see the Bioactive Compounds and Health Laboratory.

Full Biography

Megan Ford
Ph.D Student

Megan Ford's research focuses on aspects of financial therapy, and currently, measuring physiological responses of couples in financial therapy.

Full Biography

Ted Futris
Associate Professor and Extension Family Life Specialist

I research couple and coparenting relationships across various contexts in order to inform the development of educational programs and resources that promote healthy and stable families. As well, I evaluate the efficacy of family life programs in order to better understand educational practices that lead to healthy couple and family relationships.

Full Biography

Jerry Gale
Professor

PI on a project developing and testing a treatment protocol for an interdisciplinary approach to financial and relational stress. Also doing research on attachment of families with adopted children; meditation and family therapy, and premarital counseling and HIV-AIDS in Black Churches.

Full Biography

Huipu Gao
Graduate Assistant

Polymer, fiber and textile science. 

Full Biography

Jennifer George
Lecturer

Dr. George's research has focused on the influence of gender role attitudes on the romantic relationships and future aspirations of rural youth. 

Full Biography

Silvia Giraudo
Associate Professor

Dr. Giraudo directs UGA researchers who are training undergraduate researchers to design childhood obesity interventions while working as counselors at 4-H camps. The three-year Youth Obesity Undergraduate Research and Extension ( Y.O.U.R.E.) fellowship is aligned with the UGA Obesity Initiative. The interdisciplinary team of 10 faculty mentors provide training and guidance to 10 fellows chosen for the program. 

Full Biography

Joseph Goetz
Associate Professor

My research focuses on financial planning performance and financial therapy; more specifically, within the context of financial planning, I examine the fiduciary standard of care, investment risk tolerance, and pedagogical techniques.

Full Biography

Lilia Gomez-Lanier
Assistant Professor

My interests focus on the influences that the built environment may have on the learning outcome of students, cultural symbolism, habitats and place identity. Although my studies enphasize higher education students I also conduct research in the areas of elderly housing and healthcare. 

Full Biography

Jennifer Gonyea
Senior Lecturer

My research encompasses the clinical aspects of my role in the department as well as my role as a faculty member: the practice and supervision of couple and family therapy as well as the scholarship of teaching and learning (pedagogy).

Full Biography

Matt Goren
Adjunct Assistant Professor

I assess how well financial literacy interventions affect behavior and increase quality of life.

Full Biography

John Grable
Athletic Association Endowed Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences

My research interests include financial risk-tolerance assessment, behavioral financial planning, and financial decision making. My work tends to be applied and focused on helping consumers and financial service professionals navigate the increasingly complex financial marketplace. Working with colleagues in the ASPIRE clinic, I am actively engaged in conducting evidence-based research.

Full Biography

Barbara Grossman
Clinical Associate Professor; Director Dietetic Internship Program

Dr. Grossman conducts research in the area of the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Full Biography

Gail Hanula
Senior Public Service Associate Emerita

I conduct research on the effectiveness of theory-based nutrition education curricula in improving dietary intake and related behaviors.

Full Biography

Ian Hardin
Georgia Power Professor of Textile Science Emeritus

Enzymatic treatments for textile chemical processing; environmental chemistry; nanotechnical development of fiber surface modifiers, including antimicobials

Full Biography

James Hargrove
Associate Professor Emeritus

Research interests include health benefits of muscadine grapes and pecans, as well as computer-based modeling of change over time. Dr. Hargrove is not currently conducting laboratory research.

Full Biography

Judy Harrison
Professor and Extension Foods Specialist

I examine food safety education needs, test materials and methods for delivering food safety education to a variety of audiences and measure the impact of educational programs. 

Full Biography

Dorothy Hausman
Senior Research Scientist Emerita


Dr. Hausman is part of a multidisciplinary research team examining the impact of maternal obesity on maternal and fetal epigenetic responses to prenatal folic and supplementation and impact on early fetal growth. In this capacity, she is involved in coordinating the clinical aspects of the research and assessment of nutrient biomarkers.  Dr. Hausman has also served as a core lab leader for the Georgia Centenarian Study Program Project, coordinating of nutritional biomarker assessment, and remains involved in data analysis and interpretation regarding predictors of nutritional status in centenarians. In addition, she has assessed vitamin D, vitamin B12/folate and other nutritional biomarkers in children, women of child-bearing age and older adults for collaborative projects both within and outside the FDN department. 

Full Biography

Lyndsey Hjelmstad
Ph.D. Student

Antecedents and dyadic outcomes associated with intimate partners' emotion work performance, intimate partner processes and conflict resolution, sibling relationships

Full Biography

Hui-Chin Hsu
Professor Emerita

I have four primary lines of research. My first line of work relates to mother-child communication, notably individual, developmental, and cultural differences in verbal and nonverbal (e.g., gaze, smiling, and vocalization) processes of communication between mother and child from infancy to preschool age. My second area of research focuses on socioemotional development, with attention paid to the contribution of verbal and nonverbal mother-child communication to the development of social understanding and self-regulation among preschoolers. My third area of research focuses on parenting cognition and emotion, with particular attention to the extent that parenting efficacy and separation anxiety respectively buffers or impedes the effect of child stress reactivity and regulation on parental behavior. My fourth avenue for scholarly inquiry pertains to preterm birth, with a focus on the impact of prematurity on parental cognition and emotion in parenting, infant stress reactivity and regulation, and mother-infant communication.

Full Biography

Patricia Hunt-Hurst
Associate Dean for Academic Programs

I am a dress and fashion historian. My major research interest is in the area of African and African American dress and textile history. Specifically, my efforts are directed toward the study of the dress of African-American women, 1865-1940 in Georgia and South Carolina and slave clothing and textiles in Georgia and South Carolina. An important aspect of my research includes the documentation of historic apparel and accessories to determine date, regionality, and function. New research areas incorporate the analysis of cultural perception in the fashion marketplace, my specific interest relates to Africa, however, I have been involved in research projects focused on Asia and the United States. Since 1996 I have been actively involved with study abroad programs to London and Ghana. Both offer unique educational experiences to students interested in adding a global perspective to their academic studies.

Full Biography

Katherine Ingerson
M.S. Student and Peer Nutrition Educator Practicum Instructor

Katherine has conducted research in the UGA Dining Commons under the direction of Dr. Janani Thapa, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, UGA College of Public Health.

Full Biography

Julie Jeon
Ph.D. Student

 Research on the protective role of bioactive compounds and their mechanisms of action on human disease.

Full Biography

Fabiola Jimenez Meza
M.S. Student

In my undergraduate studies I was involved in two different research projects.  The first research project I did in collaboration with another team member.  In this project we reviewed various primary research articles to find an overarching conclusion of the effects of caffeine on hydration status.  The second research project that I did was looking to find if there was a correlation between cooking skills and obesity amongst college students. 

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Mary Ann Johnson
Flatt Professor in Foods and Nutrition, College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Dr. Johnson conducts research and outreach programs for older people to improve dietary habits, physical activity, and self-management of chronic diseases. She also studies centenarians, aged 100 and older. Many of Dr. Johnson's students complete the UGA Certificate of Gerontology to enhance their careers in gerontology and nutrition. Graduates from Dr. Johnson's program work in academia and government, and as dietitians in nursing homes, home health care, hospitals, and community health promotion programs. 

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Lorien Jordan
Doctoral Canidate

My core focus is centered on my belief in social justice and the social resposibility that therapists have in advocating for our clients, ourselves and our profession. As a result, the basis of my research and clinical work stems on understanding and deconstructing structured and systemic inequalities that are created and perpetuated through policy and their effects on family well-being. Clinically, this is evidenced in my interest in delivering meaningful services for typically marginalized populations and stigmatized relationship systems.

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M.J. Kabaci
Lecturer

Financial Literacy of College Students, Personal Finance Employee Education

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Annika Karlsen
Graduate Research Assistant

Annika Karlsen is a second year doctoral student in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Georgia. She earned her Master's degree in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University in 2016. Ms. Karlsen is currently working in the CARE (Couples and Relationship Enrichment) Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Ted Futris. She also serves as the Co-President of the HDFS Graduate Student Organization. 

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Sepideh Kaviani
Ph.D. Candidate and Graduate Research Assistant

Sepideh is working as a research assistant in Dr. Cooper's lab. Their research mainly evolves around obesity along with hunger/satiety hormone responses to certain diets.  

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Amy Kay
Clinical Assistant Professor (Director of Child Development Lab)

My research has focused on the relationships established between families and teachers/homes and schools by co-creating a dialogic bridge.

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Jiyoung Kim
Ph.D. Student

Jiyoung is currently conducting a research at gastrointestinal neurophysiology under the direction of Dr. Claire de la Serre. 

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Victoria King
PhD Student

My research has explored what are the active ingredients that make up a successful and enduring marital and family relationship.  Specifically I have examined the effects of varying stressors, communication styles, health behaviors, and emotional processes on relationships.  

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Elizabeth Klingbeil
PhD/DI Student

Elizabeth Klingbeil is conducting her research in the Gastrointestinal Neurophysiology Lab under the direction of Dr. Claire De la Serre.

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Steven Kogan
Associate Professor

Dr. Kogan's areas of research include African American men's sexual health and substance use in emerging adulthood and evaluating family-centered alcohol prevention programs for rural African American youth. His research includes conducting randomized prevention trials and logntiduinal studies of development.

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Joan Koonce
Professor & Extension Financial Planning Specialist

My research examines several areas of family financial planning, financial behavior of youth and family communication about finances, and low-income consumers and poverty.

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Melissa Kozak
Lecturer; Undergraduate Program Coordinator

I research pedagogy through a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) lens. This allows me to implement pedagogical strategies and systematically explore their effectiveness. Past research in this area includes peer review on research papers. I am actively researching the use of alternative texts (novels) in Human Sexuality across the Lifespan. I am interested in also exploring the impact of internships on students and am currently developing an interdisciplinary project around this topic. In the past, I explored family and community involvement through school gardens, looking at funds of knowledge and environmental literacy.

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Stephen Kuzniak
Ph.D Student

My research focuses on Behavioral Economics, Risk Tolerance and Assessment, Financial Therapy, Financial Decision Making, and Popular Consumer Finance.

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Emma Laing
Clinical Associate Professor and Director of Dietetics

My research projects focus on osteoporosis and obesity prevention and related health outcomes. My expertise is in the area of imaging techniques for assessment of bone health and body composition and employing dietary and physical activity interventions to optimize the health and wellbeing of children. Results from these studies lead to determining the efficacy of relatively simple and inexpensive approaches to improve health during childhood that will in turn reduce the risk of chronic diseases in adulthood. For more information, see the Bone and Body Composition Laboratory.

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Melissa Landers-Potts
Lecturer

Dr. Landers-Potts is interested in how socioeconomic status and overall access to tangible resources and social capital influences the success of children as they grow--particularly as it relates to their educational outcomes.

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Carol Laws
Assistant Clinical Professor / Coordinator of Interdisciplinary Pre-Service Education

My research focuses on the enhancement of the quality of community-based supports for adults with disabilities through workforce development. 

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Jung Sun Lee
Professor and Faculty of Gerontology

My research examines nutritional health issues in low-income population with a focus on food insecurity, food environments, healthcare utilization, program evaluation of community-based nutrition interventions, and nutrition policy. My research uses multidisciplinary approaches, and both quantitative and qualitative research methods. I have been conducting studies to better understand the extent and nature of food insecurity, to improve the capacity of food and nutrition assistance programs, and to establish research methodology and datasets to examine the nutrition issues in human services including aging services, healthcare, and public assistance to meet the needs of low-income Georgians. For more information about my research and the UGA SNAP-Ed project, visit the

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