Uma R. Karmarkar

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Uma Karmarkar is an assistant professor of business administration in the Marketing Unit and teaches the first year 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/or uncertainty 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.

  1. Value, Choice, and Experience

    Professor Karmarkar draws on concepts and techniques from neuroscience to inform her research in marketing. Her interests lie in determining how information relevant to a choice is integrated over time, leading to an estimation of value that informs consumer decisions and experiences. Using this approach, she examines how factors related to the flow of information – such as timing or intervening periods of sleep – affect value and the decision process.

    Information processing in decision making

    Determining or estimating value is a central concern when considering a purchase. Professor Karmarkar has studied how factors related to the purchase context may change consumers’ perception of value. For example, in one line of research she examines whether a consumer may value an item differently depending on the timing of price information, namely whether it is presented before or after product information.  In another line of studies, Professor Karmarkar has examined how intervening periods, including those of sleep, affect information processing and choice confidence.

    Certainty and recommendations

    In a separate research stream, Professor Karmarkar has explored the effects of certainty on the persuasiveness of recommendations and consumer ratings. Work published in the Journal of Consumer Research demonstrated that while expressing certainty increased the persuasiveness of novice recommendations, experts benefited from noting some uncertainty in their views. Readers were drawn in by this incongruity between the source’s level of expertise and the level of certainty in the message, and this increase in involvement led to greater persuasion. Professor Karmarkar’s continuing work in this domain examines the impact of consumers’ own feelings of certainty in interpreting product ratings. Early findings suggest that when individuals feel uncertain, they view other people’s certainty as favorable to a product, even when the item itself is rated poorly.