2016 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Carey K. Morewedge, Questrom School of Business


Carey K. Morewedge

Associate Professor of Marketing

Questrom School of Business, Boston University

Deep down, marketing is an extension of psychology. It is a study of the means used to produce comfort, connection, and pleasure. At Boston University, Carey Morewedge, a social psychologist by trade, is known for his unconventional, yet deeply memorable teaching methods. One example: He had students bid on paper cranes they made, to reflect how people place higher value their own efforts. Outside the classroom, Morewedge is a renowned scholar. His work has recently appeared in Management Science, the Journal of Marketing Research, and Trends in Cognitive Science. And earlier this year, he was honored by the Academy of Management with its Best Paper Award. Morewedge holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Age: 38

At current institution since: 2014

Education: PhD in social psychology from Harvard University, 2006.

Courses you currently teach: For our MBA’s, Consumer Behavior. The course examines what marketing, psychology, and economics reveals about how consumers think and make decisions. I’ve designed my course to improve students’ managerial decision making as well. For our PhD’s, Experimental Design and Methods. Sound experimental design is a necessary requirement for our science. Teaching the course is a serious responsibility.

Professor you most admire: My mother, Professor Rosmarie Morewedge. She succeeded despite the incredible gender discrimination women in academia faced when she began her career in the 1970’s. That discrimination may now be less severe, but is still a serious problem.

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when…I saw business school professors rigorously testing psychological theories in consequential behavioral contexts (e.g., health, environmental conservation, financial decision making).”

“If I weren’t a b-school professor…I’d be a social psychologist, the field in which I started my career.”

Most memorable moment in the classroom or in general as a professor: A recent standout moment was having my MBA’s make and bid on their origami paper cranes. The exercise demonstrated how we value our own labor and possessions more than the labor and possessions of other people.

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Publishing an article in Science.

What do you enjoy most about being a business school professor? My “job” is to test my ideas about the world—whether those ideas are about how to make intelligence analysts less biased, or why it feels wrong to bet that your kid’s team will lose its soccer game. I get to do this for work and spend my time with inspiring, smart people.

What do you enjoy least about being a business school professor? Seeing how strategic students have to be during school, at every level, to succeed afterward. Students have few opportunities to learn about interesting ideas that are not directly related to their future career. The same is true in academia. Professors evaluate each other as much on the adherence of their research to a single topic as on the novelty of their research. We pressure each other to squander our intellectual freedom so that we can easily recognize what our colleagues “do.”

Fun fact about yourself: I was a semi-professional DJ in college and graduate school. I had to give it up in graduate school. Working 4am-6am every weekend, on top of a full week in the lab, wasn’t sustainable.

Favorite book: Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris, is one favorite. We seem to have been similarly afflicted by growing up in Binghamton, NY. His writing speaks to me like a kindred spirit.

Favorite movie: Dune (1984).

Favorite type of music: 1990’s East Coast Hip-Hop.

Favorite television show: Louie reveals profound psychological insights about the absurdity of the human condition. It is terrible, funny, and beautiful. Often at the same time.

Favorite vacation spot: My favorite recent vacation was a safari in the Serengeti with my wife and two of our closest friends. I’d wanted to see it in person since watching Wild Kingdom as a kid. Tanzania was breathtakingly beautiful.

What are your hobbies? Traveling. During the warmer months, I drive on racetracks around New England on weekends. The most exciting track I’ve driven was the Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany.

Twitter handle: @morewedge

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have…a focus on teaching students how to incorporate experiments and research into business and policy decisions. Too much capital and too many lives depend on the accuracy of speculative intuitions.”

His peers say…

“Carey’s work on decision-making is brilliant and impactful. It has been published in the most prestigious scientific journals (including a paper in Science that had 650 million media impressions), has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, Time, New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, and more, and was chosen by the New York Times for its “Ideas of the Year” in 2009. With $2 million in funding from the Director of National Intelligence, he developed a series of video games that “debias” decision-makers and that are now used to train intelligence analysts all over the nation.”

Daniel Gilbert

Professor of Psychology

Harvard University

“From developing a video game that helps people make better decisions, to identifying when people rely on superstition to achieve certain goals, Carey Morewedge has established himself as an expert on how high-level cognitive processes like memory, attention, and mental imagery profoundly influence human judgments and decisions. His research explains how these basic processes influence judgments of utility, which determine the experiences people choose, how much of those experiences they choose to have, and how much money, time, and effort they’ll spend to acquire or avoid them. In 2010, Morewedge won an award for the Most Theoretically Innovative Article or Chapter of the Year from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, and won an “Ideas of the Year” award from the New York Times in 2009. Numerous media outlets have featured his work, including BBC News, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, NPR, and ABC World News.”

Steven H. Davidson

Associate Dean, Academic Programs

Boston University Questrom School of Business

“An academic advisor plays a major role in defining a student’s experience in doctoral training and I am very fortunate to have Carey’s guidance, mentorship, and support. Carey not only comes up with interesting questions and equally interesting approaches to answering them, but he also motivates the students he work with to grow as independent scholars. He considers everything from wording in experiment instructions to how different projects shape a person’s unique academic identity over the course of many years. He makes time for individual meetings, groups meetings, e-mails upon e-mails – all to help us make progress on our work. Carey operates with optimism and pragmatism, and under his supervision I have been constantly inspired and reminded why I have chosen this academic path.”

Anonymous Student


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