John G. Lynch, Jr.

Ted Andersen Professor,

Marketing

Biography

John G. Lynch, Jr. is the Ted Andersen Professor of Free Enterprise at the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado Boulder, and the Director of the Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making.

Lynch received his BA in economics, his MA in psychology, and his Ph.D. in psychology, all from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was a member of the faculty at University of Florida from 1979-1996, where he was Graduate Research Professor. From 1996-2009 he was the Roy J. Bostock Professor of Marketing at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Lynch is a Fellow of the Association for Consumer Research, the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Consumer Psychology. He has been a recipient of the Paul D. Converse Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Science of Marketing and the Society for Consumer Psychology's Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award. Five of his papers have been honored as outstanding article of the year: he has been recognized once each by the Journal of Marketing Research and by the Journal of Marketing, and three times by the Journal of Consumer Research. He was 2011 and 2013 MBA Elective Teacher of the Year at the Leeds School of Business.

He is a member of the editorial boards of Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, and the Journal of Marketing, and a member of the Journal of Marketing Research Advisory Board. He has served as president of the Policy Board of the Journal of Consumer Research, president of the Association for Consumer Research, associate editor for the Journal of Consumer Research, and associate editor and co-editor for the Journal of Consumer Psychology. He co-chairs the Boulder Summer Conference on Consumer Financial Decision Making.

Education

  • Ph.D., Psychology, University of Illinois
  • M.A., Psychology, University of Illinois
  • B.A., Economics, University of Illinois

Research

Lynch studies the cognitive psychology of consumer decision-making.

Lynch and Srull’s (1982) “Memory and Attentional Factors in Consumer Choice: Concepts and Research Methods” introduced concepts of stimulus-based and memory based decision making and highlighted the role of information processing below the level of conscious awareness. Feldman and Lynch’s (1988), “Self-Generated Validity and Other Effects of Measurement on Belief, Attitude, Intention, and Behavior” put forth the “accessibility-diagnosticity model, the first general theory explaining the relative weights of different cues in decisions and an influential contribution to theory of “constructive preferences.”

His 1997 paper with Alba and colleagues on Internet shopping and his 2000 paper with Ariely on price sensitivity on the Internet are both among the most cited papers on any topic to appear in any marketing journal from the time of their publication to the present. His more recent research has focused on intertemporal choice and planning, including Zauberman and Lynch’s (2005 Journal of Experimental Psychology: General) resource slack theory of discounting, a general theory that explains why different resources are discounted at different rates and Lynch, Netemeyer, Spiller, and Zammit’s (2010 Journal of Consumer Research) generalizable scale of “propensity to plan” predicts credit scores, controlling for various demographics.

In addition to studying consumer decision making, about a quarter of Lynch's work concerns validity issues in research methodology. The underlying theme of his work is how the biggest threat to the validity of research findings is not failure to follow textbook prescriptions about research methodology but the inevitable incompleteness of his or her understanding of the phenomenon being studied. His best known papers in this area focus on external validity of experiments, confounding in experiments, understanding the mediators of how some cause produces an effect, and how questions early in a survey can bias answers to later questions and behaviors.

Current Research

    The psychology of annuitization decisions, a mortgage recommender system to help consumers choose mortgages in line with their personal tastes and risks, the role of goals in discounting of future outcomes, and the role of financial literacy in consumers’ financial decisions.

    Teaching

    Lynch regularly teaches an MBA elective on the use of market intelligence in business decision–making and a Ph.D. course on designing experiments in the social sciences.

    Teaching Interests

      Lynch regularly teaches an MBA elective on the use of market intelligence in business decision–making. He received MBA (Elective) Teaching Excellence Awards in 2011 and 2013. He also teaches a Ph.D. course on designing experiments in the social sciences.

    Publications

    Publication

    Financial Literacy, Financial Education and Downstream Financial Behaviors

    September 2013

    Authors: Daniel Fernandes, John G. Lynch, Jr., Richard G. Netemeyer

    Policymakers have embraced financial education as a necessary antidote to the increasing complexity of consumers‚ financial decisions over the last generation. We conduct a meta-analysis of the relationship of financial literacy and of financial education to financial behaviors in 168 papers. covering 201 prior studies. We find that interventions to improve financial literacy explain only 0.1% of the variance in financial behaviors studied, with weaker effects in low-income samples. Like other education, financial education decays over time; even large interventions with many hours of instruction have negligible effects on behavior 20 months or more from the time of intervention. Correlational studies that measure financial literacy find stronger associations with financial behaviors, leading some to a mistaken belief in the efficacy of financial education in the forms studied to date.

    NPR Coverage

    NY Times Coverage

    Time Magazine Coverage

    Wall St Journal (India) Coverage

    Full Publication


    Publication

    Spotlights, Floodlights, and the Magic Number Zero: Simple Effects Tests in Moderated Regression

    April 2013

    Authors: Stephen Spiller; Gavan Fitzsimons; John G. Lynch, Jr.; and Gary McClelland

    We provide a tutorial for appropriate statistical tests for following up interactions of a measured variable X with a manipulated variable Z. We criticize existing practice for reporting "spotlight" tests of the simple effect of Z at plus and minus one standard deviation from the mean of X. We suggest instead that authors either choose spotlights at particular focal values or, when no particular values are focal, that they report the entire range of X over which the simple effect of Z is significant. We explain how to extend these principles to a wide variety of experimental designs.

    Read/Download

    Supplemental Online Appendix


    Publication

    Knowledge Creation in Consumer Research: Multiple Routes, Multiple Criteria

    July 2012

    Authors: Lynch, John G., Jr., Joseph W. Alba, Aradhna Krishna, Vicki Morwitz, and Zeynep Gurhan-Kanli

    We distinguish among alternative research styles in terms of their philosophical orientation (theory-driven vs. phenomenon-driven) and their intended contribution (understanding a substantive phenomenon or understanding or expanding theory). We discuss the merits of different styles of research and suggest appropriate evaluative criteria for each.

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    Publication

    Business Journal Editors Combat Coercive Citation

    March 2012

    Author: John G. Lynch, Jr.

    Letter to Editors of Science magazine describes steps taken by business journal editors to stamp out coercive citation, wherein authors are coerced to cite recent papers in the same journal to inflate that journal's citation impact factor

    Full Publication


    Publication

    Introduction to the Journal of Marketing Research Special Interdisciplinary Issue on Consumer Financial Decision Making

    November 2011

    Author: John G. Lynch, Jr.

    This special issue focuses on consumer financial decisions: spending patterns and resource allocation for small items and big-ticket expenses like health care; borrowing and repaying; saving and investing, which can have emotional and irrational influences; and purchase of complex financial products.

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    Publication

    Meaningless Mediation

    January 2011

    Author: John G. Lynch, Jr.

    This commentary discusses common mistakes in mediation analysis, following up on Zhao, Lynch, and Chen (2010 JCR). The biggest error is using a mediator that is not distinguishable from either the independent or dependent variable in an X-> M -> Y chain. Published in various online forums, such as Decision Science News.

    Full Publication


    Publication

    Fellow's Address: Substantive Consumer Research

    January 2011

    Author: John G. Lynch, Jr.

    This Association for Consumer Research Fellow's address encourages more work that attempts to contribute to understanding of the substantive domain of consumer research, either by careful documentation of important substantive consumer phenomena in the real world or by conceptualizing such phenomena. I argue that such a shift in focus would a) attract broader interest among to lay people (as reflected in popular press coverage); b) stimulate greater interest and citations from scholars in adjacent social sciences; and c) inspire more vibrant within-field conversations among scholars with very different disciplinary orientations.

    Full Publication


    Article

    Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: Myths and Truths about Mediation Analysis

    August 2010

    Authors: Xinshu Zhao, John G. Lynch Jr., and Qimei Chen

    We explain the most common mistakes researchers make in statistical tests of "mediation" claims that some cause X influences an outcome Y through some mediator M, and we provide a step by step guide to doing it right.

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    Article

    A Generalizable Scale of Propensity to Plan: The Long and the Short of Planning for Time and for Money

    June 2010

    Authors: John G. Lynch, Jr.; Richard G. Netemeyer; et al.

    We develop a scale of propensity to plan in a given domain, planning for time or money, in the short run or the long run. We show that, controlling to many demographic factors, those higher in propensity to plan for the use of their money over the next one to two years have much better credit scores, reflecting a positive relation of financial planning to responsible financial decision making.

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    Article

    Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other: Expanding and Contracting Numerical Dimensions Produces Preference Reversals

    June 2009

    Authors: Lynch, John G., Jr., et al.

    Two studies show that simply increasing the size of an attribute’s scale systematically changes its weight in both multiattribute preferences and willingness to pay: Expanding scales on one attribute shifts preferences to alternatives favored on that attribute.

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    Article

    As Time Goes By: Do Cold Feet Follow Warm Intentions for Really New Versus Incrementally New Products?

    June 2008

    Authors: David Alexander, John G. Lynch, Jr., and Qing Wang

    "Really New Products" offer new benefits not found in existing products, but consumers are uncertain they will get the benefits, uncertain of how to trade off benefits against costs, and they have to change their behavior to get the benefits. We show that the more psychologically new a technology is, the less likely consumers are to intend to acquire it, and the more those who say they will acquire it soon fail to follow through, particularly when intentions are measured months before the purchase decision.

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    Article

    Construing Consumer Decision Making

    May 2007

    Author: John G. Lynch, et. al.

    Construal-level theory articulates how psychological distance alters the mental representation of inputs. In the distance consumers weight abstract "high level" criteria, but when close at hand, concrete "low level" criteria get more weight. We explain how these shifts in perspective can change consumers' consideration sets and can lead regret and dissatisfaction with purchases.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    How to Attract Customers by Giving Them the Short End of the Stick

    February 2007

    Author: Lynch, John G., Jr., et al.

    In six experiments, the authors show conditions under which exactly the opposite can occur; that is, consumers judge the same offer to be more attractive when a seller offers a better price or more benefits to another group than when the seller treats everyone equally.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    Accessibility-Diagnosticity and the Multiple Pathway Anchoring and Adjustment Model

    June 2006

    Author: Lynch, John G., Jr.

    I discuss how the Multiple Pathway Anchoring and Adjustment model is similar to and different from the Feldman and Lynch accessibility-diagnosticity model, elaborated as an anchoring and adjustment model by Lynch, Marmorstein, andWeigold.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    When Do You Want It? Time, Decisions, and Public Policy

    April 2006

    Authors: John G. Lynch, Jr. and Gal Zauberman

    Consumers steeply discount future outcomes compared to similar outcomes in the present. We examine the implications of research on discounting the future for public policy in domains where consumers' impulsiveness can be harmful: under-saving for retirement; choice of tasty but unhealthy foods; falling for the lure of rebates one will never redeem.

    Full Publication


    Article

    Editors' Statement: Helping Consumers Help Themselves

    March 2006

    Author: John G. Lynch, Jr. and Wendy Wood

    This special issue is intended to start conversations between policy-makers and psychologists, behavioral economists, and consumer behavior scholars whose work challenges key assumptions in standard policy analyses.

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    Article

    A Consumer Psychologist's Comments on 'Consumer Behaviors: Opportunities for Innovative Products

    July 2005

    Author: John G. Lynch, Jr.

    Commentary on two papers by Cole, Thompson, and Tufano about choice of "impatient" ways to receive tax refunds, and by Agarwal, Skiba, and Tobacman on the paradox of use of high interest payday loans by those who have available credit card options at much lower interest.

    Full Publication


    Publication

    The Psychology of Intertemporal Discounting: Why are Distant Events Valued Differently from Proximal Ones?

    July 2005

    Authors: multiple

    Authors: Soman, Dilip, George Ainslie, Shane Frederick, Xiuping Li, John Lynch, Page Moreau, Andrew Mitchell, Daniel Read, Alan Sawyer, and Yaacov Trope, Klaus Wertenbroch, and Gal Zauberman

    We review key findings in the literature on why people give less value to events in the future, distinguish intertemporal effects due to discounting future utility versus changes in utility in the future compared to now, and identify avenues for future research.

    Full Publication


    Article

    Accessible but Nondiagnostic Memories about Memory and Consumer Choice

    May 2005

    Author: John G. Lynch, Jr.

    Professor John Lynch's Paul D. Converse Award Winning Paper.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    Resource Slack and Discounting of Future Time versus Money

    January 2005

    Author: Lynch, John G., Jr., Gal Zauberman

    The authors demonstrate that people discount delayed outcomes as a result of perceived changes over time in supplies of slack.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    Learning by Collaborative and Individual-Based Recommendation Agents

    January 2004

    Author: Lynch, John G., Jr., et al.

    In this work we examine the learning function that results from these 2 general types of learning-smart agents.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    Smart Agents: When Lower Search Costs for Quality Information Increase Price Sensitivity

    June 2003

    Author: Lynch, John G., Jr., Laura Kornish, Kristin Diehl

    We argue that lowering quality search costs by smart agents can have the opposite effect on differentiation and price sensitivity.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    Prior Knowledge and Complacency in New Product Learning

    December 2002

    Author: Lynch, John G., Jr., et al.

    Our research examines the role of prior knowledge in learning new product information.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    Unobserved Heterogeneity as an Alternative Explanation for “Reversal” Effects in Behavioral Research

    December 2000

    Author: Lynch, John G., Jr., et al.

    We show that, despite using internally valid experimental designs such as this, aggregation biases can arise in which the theoretically critical pattern holds in the aggregate even though it holds for no (or few) individuals.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    Wine Online: Search Costs Affect Competition on Price, Quality, and Distribution

    November 2000

    Author: Lynch, John G., Jr., et al.

    We test conditions under which lowered search costs should increase or decrease price sensitivity.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    Theory and External Validity

    January 1999

    Author: Lynch, John G., Jr.

    External validity can only be “assessed” by better understanding how the focal variables in one’s theory interact with moderator variables that are seen as irrelevant early in a research stream.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    Interactive home shopping: Consumer, retailer, and manufacturer incentives to participate in electronic marketplaces

    July 1997

    Author: Lynch, John G. Jr., et. al.

    A study examines the implications of electronic shopping for consumers, retailers, and manufacturers.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    Thinking About Values in Prospect and Retrospect: Maximizing Experienced Utility

    June 1996

    Authors: John G. Lynch, Jr.; et. al.

    This paper explores the implications of making decisions by maximizing experienced utility ex post rather than ex ante.

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    Article

    Advertising Effects on Consumer Welfare: Prices Paid and Liking for Brands Selected

    January 1996

    Author: Lynch, John G. Jr., et. al.

    This paper reports two experiments that explore the welfare implications of advertising effects.

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    Full Publication


    Article

    Toward a Reconciliation of Market Power and Information Theories of Advertising Effects on Price Elasticity

    March 1995

    Author: Lynch, John G. Jr., et. al.

    This paper examines how advertisements that increase price elasticity in some decision environments decreased it in others

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    Full Publication


    Honors

    • Paul D. Converse Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Science of Marketing
    • Fellow, Association for Consumer Research
    • Fellow, American Psychological Association
    • Fellow, Society for Consumer Psychology
    • William O'Dell Award for outstanding article in Journal of Marketing Research
    • JCR Award for best article in 2010 in the Journal of Consumer Research
    • JCR Award for best article in 1988-1990 in the Journal of Consumer Research
    • JCR Award for best article in 1991-1993 in the Journal of Consumer Research
    • Marketing Science Institute/Paul Root Award for greatest contribution to practice of marketing in 1997 Journal of Marketing
    • American Marketing Association Louis Stern Award for Outstanding 1997-2002 Article on Marketing Channels and Distribution
    • Marketing Science Institute 2001 Robert D. Buzzell MSI Best Paper Award
    • Marketing Science Institute 2009 Robert D. Buzzell MSI Best Paper Award
    • “Teacher of the Year Award,” College of Business Administration, University of Florida (1992)
    • Honorable Mention, Daimler-Chrysler MBA Elective Teacher of the Year, Duke University (2001 & 2002)
    • Bank of America Outstanding Faculty Award, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University (2000)
    • MBA Teaching Excellence Award (Elective Teacher of the Year), Leeds School of Business (2011, 2013)

    Professional Affiliations

    • President of Policy Board, Journal of Consumer Research
    • Member of the Editorial Boards:
      • Journal of Consumer Research
      • Journal of Marketing Research
      • Journal of Marketing
      • Journal of Consumer Psychology

    News

    Consumer Decision Making Research Conference Covers Major Financial Topics

    Leeds School of Business

    June 21, 2012

    The Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making hosts a conference every summer bringing together the brightest minds in policy, finance industry, and academia to share research on consumer behavior in the areas of mortgages, debt, credit cards, retirement, college funds, and more.


    Credit Card Statements Still Trip Up Customers

    Yahoo! Finance

    July 21, 2011

    The new and improved credit-card statements — required by federal law — are meant to help consumers. But despite the added disclosures and clarifications, plenty of people still read the numbers wrong, according to a new study at the Conference on Consumer Financial Decision Making held last month at the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business in Boulder.


    Conference Examines Research on Financial Decisions Consumers Face

    Leeds School of Business

    June 14, 2011

    The 2011 Boulder Summer Conference on Consumer Financial Decision Making highlights research about the problems of consumer financial decision making. Hosted by CU-Boulder's Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making and by the Leeds School of Business.


    Lynch Receives MBA Teaching Excellence Award

    Leeds School of Business

    May 6, 2011

    Professor John Lynch is awarded the 2011 MBA Teaching Excellence Award.


    Women Investing More, but Confidence Is Elusive

    Yahoo! Finance

    August 20, 2010

    Yahoo! Finance is teaming up with researchers at the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business and Duke University on a new study of couples and money.


    Past Events

    Conference

    2012 Boulder Summer Conference on Consumer Financial Decision Making

    June 24–26, 2012

    St Julien Hotel
    900 Walnut Street
    Boulder, CO 80302
    877.303.0900
    Group Code: GRPCFD

    Cutting edge research on consumer financial decision making by scholars across diverse fields: economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, marketing, finance, and consumer sciences. Lively discussion of this research by scholars, regulators, consumer advocates, and financial services professionals.

    Register Reserve Hotel Program
    Extended Program


    Conference

    2011 Boulder Summer Conference on Consumer Financial Decision Making

    June 26–28, 2011

    St Julien Hotel
    900 Walnut Street
    Boulder, CO 80302
    877.303.0900
    Group Code: GRPLSB
    Map & Directions

    Cutting edge research on consumer financial decision making by scholars across diverse fields: economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, marketing, finance, and consumer sciences. Lively discussion of this research by scholars, regulators, consumer advocates, and financial services professionals.


    Conference

    2010 Boulder Summer Conference on Consumer Financial Decision Making

    June 27–29, 2010

    An exchange of ideas among researchers in different fields working on problems of consumer financial decision making.