According to Amit Bhattacharjee, “Wharton makes it easy to be successful.”
He attributes part of that to the collaborative environment and lack of distance between faculty and students. “Doors are always open. So you can talk informally as well as engage in conversations about research,” he said. “And faculty truly care about what you have to say.”
Amit’s advisor, Prof. Americus Reed, a consumer psychologist who studies identity, has been a supportive mentor to him. “It’s a tremendous thing,” Amit said. “In some PhD programs, students are somewhere between research assistants and indentured servants. Here at Wharton, faculty encourage you to develop your own ideas and assume intellectual ownership.”
“We have always been encouraged to speak up in seminars, which can seem intimidating when you’re a first-year student surrounded by a roomful of experts in their respective fields. But it’s an incredible thing to realize that people want to hear from you. They want you to become an intellectual leader.”
Research – Big Ideas in Everyday Transactions
Amit’s research is about how abstract ideals like morality, health, and self-definition are reconciled with marketing actions and market outcomes.
“This is one of the fundamental questions of modern life,” he said. “We are capable of wrestling with huge, weighty ideas, like morality and freedom, but at the same time, we are often forced to shoehorn these big ideas into everyday, mundane little market transactions.”
For example, identity marketing refers to companies targeting their products toward people based on how they see themselves. This can be a powerful driver of loyalty, with positive outcomes on both sides.
“But we have found that because people care deeply about these aspects of themselves, they are protective of them. So if identity marketing comes on too strong, people push back,” Amit said.
He is interested in what makes this relationship flip. “When can marketing actions be resolved positively and when are they seen as something negative that people try to defend against?”
Outstanding Resources Means No Constraints
For those who use experimental paradigms, Amit says Wharton’s behavioral lab is key. Many other researchers at Wharton use existing datasets or get data from companies and test their hypotheses that way. “We create our own data. So we run randomized experiments, here in the lab or in the field. That’s always the gold standard in determining causality,” Amit said
“At Wharton the only constraints are your ideas and imagination. If you dream up something and think of a good way to test it, there are plenty of funds, plenty of people to work with or consult, and faculty with great relationships and tremendous resources. For anything you want done, there’s a way to get it done here.”
Posted: November 13, 2014