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Gretchen Ross Honored with Ferber Award for Research on Consumer Behavior

TCU Neeley Assistant Marketing Professor receives the Journal of Consumer Research’s prestigious award, given to the best dissertation-based article published in 2021.

December 14, 2021

By Nicholas Ferrandino

Gretchen Ross, assistant professor of marketing at the TCU Neeley School of Business, received the Ferber Award from the Journal of Consumer Research (JCR).

The Ferber Award is given to the best dissertation-based article published in the journal during the past year. The JCR is a high-ranking academic publication that focuses on studying the psychological aspects of consumer behavior. The award represents one of the greatest honors that can be given in Ross’ line of work.

“It was surprising, but also really thrilling that all the hard work for my dissertation was recognized,” Ross said.

Ross was recognized for her recent publication, “Disorder and Downsizing.” The work evaluates the relationship between the orderliness of an environment and the decision-making progress on what to keep and what to throw away. One of the study’s most interesting findings is how an orderly environment, in fact, caused participants to retain more items than a disorderly environment.

“When items are ordered, consumers will compare items (e.g., several pairs of jeans) and, because comparing facilitates justification and tends to resolve conflict in favor of selection, more items will be retained,” Ross explained in her article.

Through a comprehensive battery of experiments utilizing a range of commodities ranging from house furniture all the way to saltwater taffy, Ross’ study concluded that a disorderly setting leads to the removal of more objects, ultimately resulting in a less cluttered environment.

These findings contradict a long-standing belief shared by consumers and industry experts alike on how orderliness affects an individual’s decision-making process. This has major implications not only for the rising population of people who are moving into smaller accommodations, but also for second-hand markets such as Goodwill that make a living on acquiring and exchanging used goods.

“The marketing department and the TCU Neeley School have been really supportive and congratulatory to Ross,” said Eric Yorkston, associate professor and chair of the marketing department. “We are so incredibly pleased and proud, but in no way surprised.” 

While both Ross and her department at TCU Neeley are gratified by this recognition of her work, Ross is far from finished.

While she continues teaching her course on applied psychology and customer insight at the business school, Ross is also diving into another study that is an offshoot of her work done in “Disorder and Downsizing,” along with several other experiments analyzing consumer behavior and their impact on the global market.

“Not only is Gretchen flourishing on the projects she’s working on, but she’s also managing to get her research through a really arduous review process to bring them to publication,” Yorkston added.

“For my future work, I’m most excited about continuing to find solutions to problems or answers to interesting questions that will help consumers,” Ross said. 

Read more about Ross’ research here.

Photo: Gretchen Ross

Gretchen Ross

Assistant Professor
Marketing Department

Neeley 3351