As the principal investigator of URI’s Mental Accounting and Pricing (MAP) Lab, Marketing Professor Stephen Atlas studies the influences on consumer financial decisions ranging from impulsive online purchases to mortgages.
“I was involved in a lab as a grad student at Columbia which provided a research sounding-board as I gained footing as a researcher. We have tried to create something similar here, with undergrads, grad students and faculty from different programs joining to form academically diverse, multi-level teams tackling difficult consumer behavior problems,” Professor Atlas says.
MAP Lab research centers on common themes such as how consumers process numeric information, how they mentally represent their financial options, and how they select one. “Since financial behaviors impact so many other areas of consumer life, our interdisciplinary approach allows us to pursue related questions impacting health, environmental sustainability, marketing, consumer protection, and financial well-being,” says Atlas.
“We wanted to build a research community to discuss multi-dimensional issues related to consumer behavior. Our mission is to improve consumer well-being through behavioral economic research,” he says. “It’s also a space for students to learn bleeding-edge techniques in consumer behavior research. In fact, some recent University graduates credit much of their career success to their Lab work.”
Most recently, Professor Atlas joined with his MAP Lab colleagues from Human Development and Family Studies to focus efforts on the resilience of financial literacy education with a grant funded by the National Endowment for Financial Education. “Financial literacy is a vital skill in today’s economy affecting many areas of consumer well-being. This collaboration provides insight into interventions that can help unlock futures,” he says.