Uma R. Karmarkar

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Uma Karmarkar is an assistant professor of business administration in the Marketing Unit and teaches the Marketing course in the required MBA curriculum.

Professor Karmarkar's research examines the neural and psychological factors that underlie consumer decision-making. Some of her recent work targets how timing and context influence perceptions of value. Her findings have been published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Neuron, and Learning and Memory. In addition, her work has attracted coverage by media outlets including Newsweek, Reuters, Scientific American, and The New York Times.

Professor Karmarkar holds two Ph.D. degrees – one in neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles, and more recently, another in marketing from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Note on Neuromarketing

    This note provides some general perspective on the neuromarketing field, with a discussion of both current practices and future directions.

    Keywords: Forecasting and Prediction; Information; Marketing; Marketing Communications; Perspective; Technology;

    Citation:

    Karmarkar, Uma R. "Note on Neuromarketing." Harvard Business School Background Note 512-031, September 2011. (Revised December 2011.)

Journal Articles

  1. Defining the Contributions of Network Clock Models to Millisecond Timing

  2. Believe Me, I Have No Idea What I Am Talking About: The Effects of Source Certainty on Consumer Involvement and Persuasion

    This research explores the effect of source certainty-that is, the level of certainty expressed by a message source-on persuasion. The authors propose an incongruity hypothesis, suggesting that source certainty effects depend on perceived source expertise. In three experiments, consumers receive persuasive messages from sources of varying expertise and certainty. Across studies, low expertise sources violate expectancies, stimulate involvement, and promote persuasion when they express certainty, whereas high expertise sources violate expectancies, stimulate involvement, and promote persuasion when they express uncertainty. Thus, nonexpert (expert) sources can gain interest and influence by expressing certainty (uncertainty).

    Keywords: Research; Experience and Expertise; Risk and Uncertainty; Consumer Behavior; Performance Expectations; Interests; Power and Influence;

    Citation:

    Karmarkar, Uma R., and Zakary L. Tormala. "Believe Me, I Have No Idea What I Am Talking About: The Effects of Source Certainty on Consumer Involvement and Persuasion." Journal of Consumer Research 36, no. 6 (2010): 1033–1049.
  3. Evaluating Dedicated and Intrinsic Models of Temporal Encoding by Varying Context

    Citation:

    Spencer, Rebecca M.C., Uma Karmarkar, and Richard B. Ivry. "Evaluating Dedicated and Intrinsic Models of Temporal Encoding by Varying Context." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series A, Physical Sciences and Engineering 364 (2009): 1853–1863.
  4. Timing in the Absence of Clocks: Encoding Time in Neural Network States

    Citation:

    Karmarkar, Uma R., and Dean V. Buonomano. "Timing in the Absence of Clocks: Encoding Time in Neural Network States." Neuron 53, no. 3 (2007): 427–38.
  5. Experience Dependent Plasticity in Adult Visual Cortex

    Keywords: Health;

    Citation:

    Karmarkar, Uma R., and Yang Dan. "Experience Dependent Plasticity in Adult Visual Cortex." Neuron 4, no. 52 (2006): 577–85.
  6. Temporal Specificity of Perceptual Learning in an Auditory Discrimination Task

    Keywords: Learning; Health;

    Citation:

    Karmarkar, Uma R., and Dean V. Buonomano. "Temporal Specificity of Perceptual Learning in an Auditory Discrimination Task." Learning & Memory 10 (2003): 141–147.
  7. Mechanisms and Significance of Spike-timing Dependent Plasticity

    Citation:

    Karmarkar, Uma R., Mark T. Najarian, and Dean V. Buonomano. "Mechanisms and Significance of Spike-timing Dependent Plasticity." Biological Cybernetics 87 (2002): 373–382.
  8. How Do We Tell Time?

    Citation:

    Buonomano, Dean V., and Uma R. Karmarkar. "How Do We Tell Time?" Neuroscientist 8, no. 1 (2002): 42–51.
  9. Functional MRI in Children with Epilepsy

    Keywords: Health Disorders; Health;

    Citation:

    Bookheimer, S. Y., M. Dapretto, and Uma R. Karmarkar. "Functional MRI in Children with Epilepsy." Developmental Neuroscience 21 (1999): 191–199.

Working Papers

  1. BYOB: How Bringing Your Own Shopping Bags Leads to Treating Yourself, and the Environment

    As concerns about climate change and resource availability become more central in public discourse, using reusable grocery bags has been strongly promoted as an environmentally and socially conscious virtue. In parallel, firms have joined policy makers in using a variety of initiatives to reduce the use of plastic bags. However, little is known about how adopting reusable bags might alter consumers' in-store behavior. Using scanner panel data from a single California location of a major grocery chain, and completely controlling for consumer heterogeneity, we demonstrate that bringing your own bags simultaneously increases your purchases of environmentally conscious and indulgent (hedonic) items. Supporting these effects, we use experimental methods to demonstrate that participants who imagined shopping with their own bags are more likely to spontaneously consider purchasing chips or dessert items, and indicate relatively higher willingness to pay for foods in these categories, as well as for organic foods. Furthermore, we show that the impact on organic and indulgent items is dissociable in a manner dependent on the consumers' motivation for bringing bags. These findings have implications for decisions related to product pricing, placement and assortment, store layout, and the choice of strategies to increase the use of reusable bags.

    Keywords: grocery shopping; reusable bags; licensing; priming; goals; hedonic; Motivation and Incentives; Consumer Behavior; Attitudes; Environmental Sustainability;

    Citation:

    Karmarkar, Uma R., and Bryan Bollinger. "BYOB: How Bringing Your Own Shopping Bags Leads to Treating Yourself, and the Environment." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-065, January 2014.