Research Summary

Current Research

by Leslie K. John


Marketing and Public Policy

Professor John uses behavioral decision theory and both laboratory and field studies to investigate questions that are at the intersection of marketing and public policy. Specifically, she asks how firms’ behavior and policy initiatives interact to affect consumer well-being. Within this arena, she has developed three research streams.

Consumer privacy

As people spend more time shopping, gaming, and socializing online – and as data gathering technology has become more sophisticated – consumer privacy has become an ever more important issue. Gathering consumer data creates marketing opportunities for firms, but surrendering this information can be perilous for consumers. Professor John has examined why and in what situations consumers are willing to divulge sensitive personal information, highlighting a tension between their best interests and marketers’ motivations. She is interested in developing ways to deal with personal information that are beneficial to firms and consumers alike.

Consumer health

Escalating health care costs have focused attention on changing unhealthy but modifiable behaviors. Tobacco use, obesity, and alcohol abuse together account for nearly one-third of all deaths in the United States. Professor John has demonstrated that it is possible to exploit people’s decision biases, such as overconfidence and aversion to financial loss, to help them adopt more healthy behaviors.

Professional dishonesty

In her newest stream of research, Professor John is studying dishonesty in the workplace, building on mounting evidence that it cannot be fully explained by a rational, cost-benefit perspective.