Business Professor receives grant to study "consumer wisdom"

For the last six months, Michael Luchs, Associate Professor at William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, has traveled the country con-ducting fieldwork on “consumer wisdom.” His research, part of the Enhancing Life Project funded by a $4.6M grant from the John Templeton Foundation, will use qualitative interviews to develop a psychological theory on how “wise consumers” make consumption related decisions that simultaneously promote their own well-being, while also reflecting their prosocial values.

“Sustainable consumption is the purchase of goods and services that are more environmentally or socially benign,” said Luchs. “But there is a growing recognition that it’s not enough to merely buy products that are less harmful.” According to Luchs, “wise consumers” are able to make purposeful decisions about sustainability that they believe will not just help the planet, but will actually enhance the quality of their own lives.

“People who are seen as wise are typically balanced: they can avoid impulse purchases and think about long-term consequences, and balance their needs against the needs of others,” he said. “Wisdom also involves reflection, the ability to think critically about when and what we acquire. Because often, the choice to not acquire something is just as important.”

The two-year “Enhancing Life” project, in collaboration with the University of Chicago and Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, selected 35 scholars from across the globe to study how the human desire for a better life can be achieved. As part of the project, Luchs – the only business school professor in the group - will adapt two of his current courses to reflect themes about the enhancement of life as it relates to wise consumption. He will also collaborate with other scholars in three residency seminars and develop a series of articles related to his work.

Dr. Michael Luchs is an Associate Professor of Marketing. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. Dr. Luchs also earned an M.S. in Marketing from the University of Texas at Austin, an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business, as well as a B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in Psychology from Tufts University.

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