Faculty & Research

Abigail Sussman

Assistant Professor of Marketing and Beatrice Foods Co. Faculty Scholar

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5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Abigail Sussman, Assistant Professor of Marketing, is interested in how consumers form judgments and make decisions, from underlying mechanisms to applications. She investigates questions at the intersection of consumer behavior, psychology, and economics, with the aim of improving human welfare. Her central research examines psychological biases that can lead consumers to commit errors in budgeting, spending, and borrowing. She also explores how the same biases extend beyond financial domains to choices in other areas.

Sussman’s prior experience includes work at Goldman Sachs in its equity research division. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in cognitive science and economics, and a joint PhD from the psychology department and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.


2015 - 2016 Course Schedule

Number Name Quarter
37000 Marketing Strategy 2016 (Winter)
37903 Adv Mktg Theory: Behavioral Science Approach 2016 (Spring)

Research Activities

Judgment and decision making, consumer welfare, financial decision making, mental accounting, causal reasoning, political decision making

Sussman, Abigail B., Kristina Petkova, and Alexander Todorov, 2013. Competence ratings in the US predict presidential election outcomes in Bulgaria. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49 (4), 771-775.

Sussman, Abigail B., and Adam L. Alter, 2012. The exception is the rule: Underestimating and overspending on exceptional expenses. Journal of Consumer Research, 39 (December), 800-814.

Olivola, Christopher Y., Abigail B. Sussman, Konstantinos Tsetsos, Olivia Kang, and Alexander Todorov, 2012. Republicans prefer Republican-looking leaders: Political facial stereotypes predict candidate electoral success among right-leaning voters. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3 (September), 605-613.

Sussman, Abigail B., and Eldar Shafir, 2012. On assets and debt in the psychology of perceived wealth. Psychological Science, 23 (1), 101-108.

Sussman, Abigail B., and Christopher Y. Olivola, 2011. Axe the tax: Taxes are disliked more than equivalent costs. Journal of Marketing Research, 48 (November), 91-101.

Khemlani, Sangeet S., Abigail B. Sussman, and Daniel M. Oppenheimer, 2011. Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s scope: Latent scope biases in explanatory reasoning. Memory and Cognition, 39 (3), 527-535.

New: Saving for a Purpose: The Financial Consequences of Protecting Savings
Date Posted: Dec  19, 2014
Maintaining savings is an important financial goal. Yet, there are times when savings should be spent; for example, when people face unavoidable costs and spending savings means avoiding high-interest rate debt. Existing behavioral research has focused on consumer decisions between savings and discretionary spending, and developed interventions to promote savings in these contexts. However, when spending is non-discretionary, these interventions risk exacerbating a pattern found in economic research that people borrow high interest-rate debt while maintaining savings earning low levels of interest. We examine how mental accounting interacts with considerations of personal responsibility to contribute to this pattern. Specifically, we explore whether people will spend savings when they need money most: emergencies. Across five studies, we find that people’s tendency to preserve savings in favor of borrowing from a high interest-rate credit option varies as a function of the savings’ ...

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