Robert Meyer

Robert Meyer
  • Frederick H. Ecker/MetLife Insurance Professor
  • Professor of Marketing
  • Co-Director, Risk Management, Decision Processes Center

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    770 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    3730 Walnut Street
    University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: behavioral game theory, consumer decision analysis, decision making under uncertainty, dynamic decision making, text analysis

Links: CV


Robert Meyer is the Frederick H. Ecker/MetLife Insurance Professor and Co-Director of Wharton’s Human-Centered Technology Initiative.   He is a noted scholar whose research focuses on consumer decision making and analysis in a wide range of areas including responses to new technologies,  behavioral economics, marketing research methods. Professor Meyer’s work has appeared in a wide variety of professional journals and books, including the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Marketing Research, the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Marketing Science, Management Science, and Risk Analysis. He is the former editor  of the Journal of Marketing Research and Marketing Letters.   has served or currently serves as an associated editor for  the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Marketing,  and Marketing Science.

Professor Meyer’s most recent research has focused on the study of biases that arise in consumer communication.  This work includes the use of natural-language processing tools to study how sensationalist news stories develop and spread on social media platforms, and how warnings messages are  perceived by residents faced with natural disaster threats.  For example, Professor Meyer and his colleagues have been able to show that failures of  preparation that often precede catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, and the 2008/09 housing and equities collapse are consistent with a number of hard-wired biases in how people respond to risk. This includes a tendency for people to fail to learn as much as they should from near-misses, and under-invest in instruments whose value can only be realized in the long run.  These ideas form the basis of his recent book, co-authored with Howard Kunreuther,  the Ostrich Paradox: Why we under-prepare for Disasters.

At Wharton Professor Meyer has served as chair of the Marketing Department and  Vice Dean of Wharton’s doctoral programs. His teaching interests include courses in New Product Management, Research Methods, and Marketing Strategy, which he has taught at the MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral levels. He is also an active participant in a number of Wharton’s executive education programs.

Professor Meyer joined the marketing faculty in 1990 after spending eight years on the faculty of the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA, and two years at the Graduate School of Industrial Administration at Carnegie-Mellon University. He also held appointments as  visiting professor in the school of Business Administration at the University of Miami, the University of Sydney, and the University of Tokyo.

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  • Yanliu Huang and Robert Meyer (Working), Tradeoffs in the Dark: The Effect of Experience on Extrapolated Consumer Preferences.

  • Robert Meyer, Jin Han, Shengui Zhao (Under Review), A Tale of Two Judgments: Biases in Prior Valuations and Subsequent Utilization of Novel Technological Product Attributes.

    Abstract: We explore the degree to which consumers’ willingness-to-pay for next-generation products is rationally consistent with levels of utilization of novel features displayed after adoption. Using data from an experiment that requires subjects to buy and then utilize successive generations of an arcade game, we find support for an overvaluation bias: respondents place a high value on the ability to acquire an enhanced game form, but then make limited use of its novel controls after adoption. The effect is shown to be robust to incentives that provide a monetary reward to accurate valuations, priming of forecasts of downstream usage, and allowing subjects brief periods of trial ownership. The bias is explained in terms of myopic buying-and-utilization processes where a priori assessments of value do not anticipate future usage, and post-hoc decisions about utilization do not feel obligated to past valuations.

    Description: Under first review.

  • Robert Meyer, R. Tyagi, J. Walsh (Under Review), An Experimental Analysis of Dynamic Pricing in Markets with Uncertain Demand.

    Description: Under first review.

  • Robert Meyer and Howard Kunreuther (Under Review), An Experimental Analysis of Learning from Experience about Natural-Hazards.

    Abstract: The ability of individuals to learn optimal strategies for mitigation against infrequently-occurring natural hazards is explored. We report the results of two experiments in which participants are faced with the problem of learning the most cost-effective means of protecting against earthquake losses. The experiments utilize dynamic computer simulations in which participants are endowed with homes in virtual communities that are prone to periodic impacts by earthquakes. Participants can invest in measures that potentially mitigate losses from quakes but the effectiveness of these measures is initially uncertain. Over time participants have the opportunity to learn about true effectiveness both by direct experience with simulated earthquakes and by observing the decisions and experiences of other players. The data offer a pessimistic view of learning abilities; not only do participants persist in investing in mitigation instruments that, in fact, have no ability to lower damage, but they also fail to fully invest in instruments that are highly effective. Among the mechanisms that appeared to impede learning was a tendency to mimic local group norms in investment levels (which are suboptimal) and to prematurely terminate attempts to learn. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of the work for both basic research on decision making in low-probability, high-consequence settings as well as prescriptive research in natural-hazard mitigation.

  • Robert Meyer and Shengui Zhao (Working), Biases in Predicting Preferences for the Whole from Product Fragments.

    Abstract: In this research we examine the ability of consumers to predict the likely appeal of large visual patterns from small sample fragments. In a task designed to mimic the dilemma of choosing wall paper from small swatches, study participants are shown fragments taken from a large pattern design and are asked to predict how attractive they would find the complete image. Drawing on research on affective forecasting and inference heuristics, we hypothesize that these predictions will be driven by an anchoring-and-adjustment process that skews predictions toward the local attractiveness of fragments. Results from three laboratory studies support this basic hypothesis: respondents consistently overestimate the degree to which their initial reactions to fragments predict their subsequent evaluations of wholes. The size of this projection bias is, in turn, conditioned by such moderators as prior familiarity with product fragment, cognitive load, and visualization abilities—effects that are consistent with an anchoring-and-adjustment explanation for the data.

  • Robert Meyer, E. Johnson, B. Hardie, John Walsh (Under Review), Observing Unobserved Heterogeneity: Using Process Data to Model Unobserved Heterogeneity in Consumer Choice Data.

    Abstract: People use different strategies when making choices. Modeling this choice process heterogeneity, however, is difficult using just the data provided by most standard choice experiments. We try to capture process heterogeneity by augmenting choice models with variables derived from information-acquisition data gathered unobtrusively during choice tasks. These variables supplement standard logit specifications which identify how an individual used the attributes and attribute values to screen and rank alternatives in making a choice. The approach improves in-sample fit, prediction in a holdout sample, and residuals indicate that the models are providing better specified estimates of choice probabilities.

    Description: Under third review.

  • Narayan Jankiraman, Robert Meyer, Andrea C. Morales (Working), Spillover Effects: How Consumers Respond to Unexpected Changes in Price and Quality.

    Abstract: This article examines how unexpected changes in the marketing mix of one product in a retail setting can influence demand for other, unrelated items. Results from two laboratory studies show that spillover effects can occur in response to both positive and negative changes in either the price or quality of a product, such that positive changes increase total spending on other items and negative changes reduce it. The results also demonstrate that an attributional process underlies these effects, indicating that consumers experience specific affective responses directed at the retailer that lead them either to reward or punish the retailer accordingly.

  • Robert Meyer, Shengui Zhao, Jin Han (Working), The Enhancement Bias in Consumer Decisions to Adopt and Utilize Product Innovations.

    Abstract: The ability of consumers to anticipate the value they will draw from new product generations that expand the capabilities of incumbent goods is explored. Drawing on previous research in affective forecasting, the work explores a hypothesis that consumers will frequently overestimate the benefits they envision drawing from new added product features and underestimate the learning costs required to realize those benefits. This hypothesis is tested using a computer simulation in which subjects are trained to play a Pacman-like arcade game where icons are moved over a screen by different forms of tactile controls. Respondents are then given the option to play a series of games for money with an incumbent game platform or pay to play with an alternative version that offer either expanded (Experiments 1 and 2) or simplified (Experiment 3) sets of controls. As hypothesized, subjects displayed an upwardly-biased valuation of the new sets of controls as measured by actual versus forecasted usage rates and performance gains. Yet, when given the opportunity to be paid to trade down to a more efficient device in exchange, few accepted. We thus observe a paradox where the presence of forecasting mistakes in product adoptions does little to induce regret in ownership.

  • Robert Meyer, N. Janakiramanand, A. Morales (Under Review), The Mental Accounting of Price Shocks: The Effect of Unexpected Price Changes on Cross-Category Purchase Patterns.

    Abstract: A rarely challenged tenet of economic theory is that as long as consumers do not face liquidity constraints, goods satisfying different fundamental needs not should exhibit significant cross-price elasticities. Mental accounting, however, provides a theoretical mechanism by which this assumption may be violated when the posted prices of goods unexpectedly depart from historical or expected levels. Specifically, expected price shocks may alter the illusory liquidity of consumers, such that unanticipated price increases suppress consumers’ tendencies to purchase discretionary goods, while unanticipated price decreases enhance it. This hypothesis is tested using data from a computerized grocery-shopping simulation in which subjects are faced with the problem of minimizing the cost of keeping a home stocked with twelve different grocery items over a multi-period horizon. After an acclimation period where subjects are allowed to develop expectations for the usual prices of these goods, they are exposed to two extreme price-shock events: one where a required item is priced dramatically above its regular retail price, and another dramatically below. The data support the core spillover hypothesis, with high-price shocks suppressing average out-of-category buying and low-price shocks inflating it. The data also show, however, that the mechanism that induces these effects differs between positive and negative shocks. The primary driver of the suppression of average sales given unexpected price increases is dramatically increased small-deal sensitivity; subjects are loathe to buy goods sold at regular retail prices, but are more apt to buy goods offered for sale at small discounts. On the other hand, unexpected price decreases appear to induce a simpler illusory wealth effect, with buying increased but without any change in small-deal sensitivity. An additional surprising finding is that the spillover effect proves robust to several variables that are hypothesized to limit its boundaries. Specifically, the strength of the spillover effect was not modified by variation in whether or not consumers had a standing inventory of a good at home (a surrogate for whether its purchase is more likely to be seen as discretionary), the base price to which the price shock is applied, and previous exposures to price shocks. A discussion of the implications of the work for research in mental accounting and pricing is provided.

  • Narayan Janakiraman, Robert Meyer, Stephen Hoch (Working), The Psychology of Consumer Decisions to Continue or Abandon Waits from Invisible Service Queues.

    Abstract: We examine the process by which consumers make sequential decisions whether to continue or abandon waits for service. We focus on the case of invisible queues, where consumers cannot observe their location in a queue as it progresses, only the passage of time. Our hypothesis is that stay-or-renege decisions will frequently sub-optimal, marked by a tendency to prematurely abandon waits from distributions for which it is never optimal to renege (e.g., uniform waits) but excessively persist given distributions that have optimal early reneging windows. We propose a competing-hazards theory that models on-going stay-or-renege decisions as a blend of two opposing influences: the escalating displeasure of waiting and the opposing desire to complete a wait that has been initiated. Among the theoretical predictions that emerge from this theory is that reneging rates will display an inverted U-shape function over time, with consumers being most prone to renege near the mid-point of waits. Reneging is also hypothesized to be affected by a number of normatively-irrelevant moderators, such as the initial number of alternative queues and the amount of physical activity that is engaged in during a wait. Evidence supporting these hypotheses is provided by four experimental studies in which respondents have the goal to complete as many downloads as possible from a hypothetical website within a finite time window, where there is a continuous opportunity to abandon a wait to begin a new one.


All Courses

  • BDS5999 - Behavioral Science Ind Cap

    Behavioral Science Individual Capstone for cohorts before 2022.

  • MKTG2210 - New Product Management

    Examination of the marketing aspects of products or services exclusive of their promotion, pricing or distribution. Focuses on decisions regarding product introduction, positioning, improvements, and deletion, and the tools available for making these decisions.

  • MKTG6110 - Marketing Management

    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.

  • MKTG6120 - Dynamic Mktg Strategy

    Building upon Marketing 611, the goal of this course is to develop skills in formulating and implementing marketing strategies for brands and businesses. The course will focus on issues such as the selection of which businesses and segments to compete in, how to allocate resources across businesses, segments, and elements of the marketing mix, as well as other significant strategic issues facing today's managers in a dynamic competitive environment. A central theme of the course is that the answer to these strategic problems varies over time depending on the stage of the product life cycle at which marketing decisions are being made. As such, the PLC serves as the central organizing vehicle of the course. We will explore such issues as how to design optimal strategies for the launch of new products and services that arise during the introductory phase, how to maximize the acceleration of revenue during the growth phase, how to sustain and extend profitability during the mature phase, and how to manage a business during the inevitable decline phase.

  • MKTG6130 - Stratgic Mktg Simulation

    Building upon Marketing 611, Marketing 613 is an intensive immersion course designed to develop skills in formulating and implementing marketing strategies for brands and businesses. The central activity will be participation in a realistic integrative product management simulation named SABRE. In SABRE, students will form management teams that oversee all critical aspects of modern product management: the design and marketing of new products, advertising budgeting and design, sales force sizing and allocation, and production planning. As in the real world, teams will compete for profitability, and the success that each team has in achieving this goal will be a major driver of the class assessment. The SABRE simulation is used to convey the two foci of learning in the course: the changing nature of strategic problems and their optimal solutions as industries progress through the product life cycle, and exposure to the latest analytic tools for solving these problems. Specifically, SABRE management teams will receive training in both how to make optimal use of marketing research information to reduce uncertainty in product design and positioning, as well as decision support models to guide resource allocation.

  • MKTG7120 - Data & Anlz For Mktg Dec

    This course introduces students to the fundamentals of data-driven marketing, including topics from marketing research and analytics. It examines the many different sources of data available to marketers, including data from customer transactions, surveys, pricing, advertising, and A/B testing, and how to use those data to guide decision-making. Through real-world applications from various industries, including hands-on analyses using modern data analysis tools, students will learn how to formulate marketing problems as testable hypotheses, systematically gather data, and apply statistical tools to yield actionable marketing insights.

  • MKTG7210 - New Product Management

    This course provides a total immersion in the new product development process - from sourcing ideas and innovation, through new product sales forecasting. The focus is on collective learning, what works, what doesn't, and why. While the primary focus is the new product development process within a corporate structure, some coverage is given to key issues surrounding start-ups.

  • MKTG8990 - Independent Study

    A student contemplating an independent study project must first find a faculty member who agrees to supervise and approve the student's written proposal as an independent study (MKTG 899). If a student wishes the proposed work to be used to meet the ASP requirement, he/she should then submit the approved proposal to the MBA adviser who will determine if it is an appropriate substitute. Such substitutions will only be approved prior to the beginning of the semester.

  • MKTG9420 - Research Methods Mktg A

    This course provides an introduction to the fundamental methodological issues that arise in experimental and quasi-experimental research. Illustrative examples are drawn from the behavioral sciences with a focus on the behavior of consumers and managers. Topics that are covered include: the development of research ideas; data collection and reliable measurement procedures; threats to validity; control procedures and experimental designs; and data analysis. Emphasis is placed on attaining a working knowledge of the use of regression methods for non-experimental and quasi-experimental data and analysis of variance methods for experimental data. The primary deliverable for this course is a meta-analysis of a research problem of the students choosing that investigates the effects of research methods on empirical results.

  • MKTG9430 - Research Methods Mktg B

    This course provides an introduction to the fundamental methodological issues that arise in experimental and quasi-experimental research. Illustrative examples are drawn from the behavioral sciences with a focus on the behavior of consumers and managers. Topics that are covered include: the development of research ideas; data collection and reliable measurement procedures; threats to validity; control procedures and experimental designs; and data analysis. Emphasis is placed on attaining a working knowledge of the use of regression methods for non-experimental and quasi-experimental data and analysis of variance methods for experimental data. The primary deliverable for this course is a meta-analysis of a research problem of the students choosing that investigates the effects of research methods on empirical results.

  • MKTG9710 - Adv Topics Mktg Part A

    Taught collectively by the faculty members from the Marketing Department, this course investigates advanced topics in marketing. It is organized in a way that allows students to 1) gain depth in important areas of research identified by faculty; 2) gain exposure to various faculty in marketing and their research values and styles; and 3) develop and advance their own research interests.

  • MKTG9950 - Dissertation

  • MKTG9990 - Independent Study

    Requires written permission of instructor and the department graduate adviser.

Awards and Honors

  • Research Grants, 1992 Description

    Huntsman Center for Research on Technological Competition,
    1992 – 1994 (Total Funding: $15,000).

  • Principle investigator, 2002 Description

    SMU/Wharton Research Grants, 2002-4 (3 years).
    Funding: $33,000/year

  • 2001 John D.C. Little Award for best paper in an INFORMS Journal, 2000, 2000
  • 2001 Frank Bass Award for best article based on a doctoral dissertation, 2001
  • 1994 Frank Bass Award for best article based on a doctoral dissertation, 1999 Description

    Judged after five years

  • 1994 O’Dell Award for best article in Journal of Marketing Research, 1999 Description

    Judged after five years

  • Principle Investigator, 1989 Description

    “Experimental Analysis of Consumer Buying Dynamics,”
    National Science Foundation, 1989 (1 Year), Finding: $54,000

  • UCLA Chancellor’s Career Development Award, 1984
  • Eight UCLA Faculty Research Grants, 1982-1989, 1982
  • Associate Investigator (Principal Investigator: Dr. Irwin Levin), 1979 Description

    “Behavioral Processes Underlying Transportation Model Choice,” U.S.D.O.T, July to November, 1979

  • Associate Investigator (Principal Investigator: Dr. Gerard Rushton), 1979 Description

    “Elderly Migration,” Institute on Aging, August 1979 to present

  • Associate Investigator (Principal Investigators: Dr. L. Turner and Dr. J. Louviere), 1979 Description

    “Housing Decision by the Elderly,” Administration on Aging, 22 October 1979

  • Certificate in Urban Transportation Planning, 1979 Description

    Program administered by USDOT/UMTA)

  • USDOT/UMTA Fellowship 1978, 1978


Latest Research

Yanliu Huang and Robert Meyer (Working), Tradeoffs in the Dark: The Effect of Experience on Extrapolated Consumer Preferences.
All Research

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