Jason Riis

Jason Riis
  • Lecturer in Marketing

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    753 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    3730 Walnut Street
    University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, PA 19104-6304


Jason Riis’s main interest is in consumer health, a growing field at the intersection of consumer marketing and healthcare. In both industries, the central issue is behavior change. On the consumer marketing side, Professor Riis is examining the ways that food retailers and manufacturers can grow their businesses while making it easier for consumers to eat better. On the healthcare side, he is examining ways that healthcare payers and providers can better engage employees and patients in healthy behaviors.

In his research, Professor Riis conducts field experiments, surveys, and lab studies using the methods and theories of psychology and behavioral economics. His research has appeared in leading management and health journals including Journal of Consumer Research, Management Science, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, and Health Affairs.

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  • Hengchen Dai, David Mao, Jason Riis, Kevin Volpp, Michael J. Relish, Victor F. Lawnicki, Katherine L. Milkman (2017), Effectiveness of Medication Adherence Reminders Tied to “Fresh Start” Dates: A Randomized Clinical Trial, Journal of the American Medical Association: Cardiology, 2 (4), pp. 453-455.

  • Katherine L. Milkman, Hengchen Dai, Jason Riis (2015), Put Your Imperfections Behind You: Goal Initiation Is Motivated by Temporal Landmarks that Signal the Beginning of New Time Periods, Psychological Science, 26 (12), pp. 1927-1936.

  • Rebecca K. Ratner and Jason Riis (2014), Communicating science-based recommendations with memorable and actionable guidelines, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Forthcoming.

  • Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014), The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior, Management Science, 60 (10), pp. 2563-2582. 10.1287/mnsc.2014.1901

    Abstract: The popularity of New Year’s resolutions suggests that people are more likely to tackle their goals immediately following salient temporal landmarks. If true, this little-researched phenomenon has the potential to help people overcome important willpower problems that often limit goal attainment. Across three archival field studies, we provide evidence of a “fresh start effect.” We show that Google searches for the term “diet” (Study 1), gym visits (Study 2), and commitments to pursue goals (Study 3) all increase following temporal landmarks (e.g., the outset of a new week, month, year, or semester; a birthday; a holiday). We propose that these landmarks demarcate the passage of time, creating many new mental accounting periods each year, which relegate past imperfections to a previous period, induce people to take a big-picture view of their lives, and thus motivate aspirational behaviors.

  • Anne N. Thorndike, Jason Riis, Lillian Sonnenberg, Doug Levy (Work In Progress), Peer comparison, feedback and financial incentives to promote employees’ healthy food choices: a randomized controlled trial.

  • Nell Putnam-Farr and Jason Riis (Forthcoming), Yes, I want to enroll: yes/no response formats increase response rates in marketing communications.

  • Bhavya Mohan, Pierre Chandon, Jason Riis (Under Review), Don’t let that percentage fool you: investigating the relationship between percentage errors and ratios.

  • Jason Riis (2014), Opportunities and barriers for smaller portions in food service: lessons from marketing and behavioral economics, International Journal of Obesity, Forthcoming.

  • Anne N. Thorndike, Jason Riis, Lillian Sonnenberg, Doug Levy (2014), Traffic-light labels and choice architecture: promoting healthy food choices, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 46 (2), pp. 143-146.

  • Lillian Sonnenberg, Emily Gelsomin, Doug Levy, Jason Riis, Susan Barraclough, Anne N. Thorndike (2013), A traffic light food labeling intervention increases consumer awareness of health and healthy choices at the point-of-purchase, Preventive Medicine.


Professor Riis is teaching MKTG 611 in Fall 2014

Past Courses


    This course is concerned with how and why people behave as consumers. Its goals are to: (1) provide conceptual understanding of consumer behavior, (2) provide experience in the application of buyer behavior concepts to marketing management decisions and social policy decision-making; and (3) to develop analytical capability in using behavioral research.


    This course addresses how to design and implement the best combination of marketing efforts to carry out a firm's strategy in its target markets. Specifically, this course seeks to develop the student's (1) understanding of how the firm can benefit by creating and delivering value to its customers, and stakeholders, and (2) skills in applying the analytical concepts and tools of marketing to such decisions as segmentation and targeting, branding, pricing, distribution, and promotion. The course uses lectures and case discussions, case write-ups, student presentations, and a comprehensive final examination to achieve these objectives.


    Marketing begins and ends with the customer, from determining customers' needs and wants to providing customer satisfaction and maintaining customer relationships. This course examines the basic concepts and principles in customer behavior with the goal of understanding how these ideas can be used in marketing decision making. The class will consist of a mix of lectures, discussions, cases, assignments, project work and exams. Topics covered include customer psychological processes (e.g., motivation, perception, attitudes, decision-making) and their impact on marketing (e.g., segmentation, branding, and customer satisfaction). The goal is to provide you with a set of approaches and concepts to consider when faced with a decision involving understanding customer responses to marketing actions.

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Latest Research

Hengchen Dai, David Mao, Jason Riis, Kevin Volpp, Michael J. Relish, Victor F. Lawnicki, Katherine L. Milkman (2017), Effectiveness of Medication Adherence Reminders Tied to “Fresh Start” Dates: A Randomized Clinical Trial, Journal of the American Medical Association: Cardiology, 2 (4), pp. 453-455.
All Research

In the News

Dinner on Aisle Six: Why Supermarkets Are Opening Restaurants

Consumers' growing appreciation for eating out is bad news for grocery stores, which have long struggled with razor-thin profit margins. Their solution? Getting into the restaurant business.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2017/12/14
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