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October 26, 2021

PhD Series - Meet Cátia Alves PhD candidate in Management

Why did you start a this PhD program at Nova SBE?

I always wanted to be a scientist; my doubt was the specific research area. After finishing my master's degree in neuroscience, I opted to do research on a more macro level. I wanted to know why human beings behave the way they do and how their behaviour impacts society. In the end, I decided to do my studies in Consumer Behaviourat Nova SBE. I chose this university because it is a prestigious university with a close relationship with very different stakeholders, from companies to hospitals.

What was the most valuable experience during your PhD?

It was to go abroad for my Exchange Term at Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) - Erasmus University. I did my visiting for six months, and it was amazing. At a personal level, it was an enriching experience because I started to live in a new country with different habits and ways of living. For instance, I loved the fact that we could use our bike to go everywhere.  

It was also extraordinary at a professional level; I met top scholars in my field and started new projects. I completely recommend RSM; it is a very dynamic school with great professors and facilities.

What would you say to students starting their PhD?

I would give four advances to prospective Ph.D. students. Here they are:

Find a good supervisor. A good relationship with the supervisor is essential. Choose someone that has availability and resources (networking, grants). And, more important, someone you admire.

Be resilient. High resilience is a must for any scientist. Doing research work requires a lot of thought and deliberation; it is a slow and self-learning process.

Be creative. I would say this is one of the most important ingredients to success. Being creative allow your papers to stand out and get visibility. People love surprising and counterintuitive findings.

Read a lot. Reading is crucial for different reasons: getting an original contribution, writing well, planning studies, among others. Good quality papers can be your best professor.

What come next in your PhD?

I am in the final stage of my phD; the next step is to go to the academic Job Market. Currently, I am working on three papers, and I intend to submit one of them to Journal of Marketing Research in the following months.

What is your research about? (please use non-technical language)

My research work is focused on several topics: consumer psychology, emotions and creativity.

In one of my papers, I am trying to understand how the brand preferences of advertising creatives change their work. I found that those who have a negative attitude toward the brand, when compared to those who have a positive one, are more likely to produce functional advertisements (i.e., advertisements that appeal to rationality by emphasizing product benefits/advantages). They are also less likely to produce emotional advertisements (i.e., advertisements that contain emotional references or warmth appeals).

Interestingly, I observed these results with non-professional and professionals creatives (8 years of experience, on average). I propose that this happens due to a process of emotional suppression. Individuals who dislike a brand believe more strongly that they should suppress their emotions and stay rational as a way to overcome their perceived bias.

In this work, I challenge the idea that creatives who dislike a brand produce bad outcomes. Indeed, there are situations in which functional ads outperform emotional ads, such as when advertising products in new markets.

How can the results of your research be applied to everyday life/business?

My research is particularly useful to media agencies and advertising companies. In my first paper, I found that creatives' work outcomes depend on their relationship with the brand (i.e., their client). Thus, I suggesta personalized way to allocate brands/projects to creatives. Managers should find the most suitable creative according to the objectives of the brand/client.

My work also informs media agencies on how to optimize advertising performance. I study which emotional contexts (for example, a disgusting Youtube video or a sad movie) improve advertising recall.

How did you come up with your research idea?

This is a tricky question because it might be difficult to disentangle the process behind it. I tend to read literature on very different topics (for example, a political science paper and biomedical discoveries). This approach provides me with a broad range of concepts that help me triggering new connections and be more creative. Apart from this, I also try to find incoherences or constraints that practitioners encounter. For instance, after several interviews with creative managers, I found that they do not have clear and consistent criteria to allocate creatives to brands/clients. And, this topic became one of my papers.

Are you working on any project now?

I have other papers besides my job market paper. In one of them, I am studying how emotional contexts influence advertising recall. For example, would commercials' recall increase if you see them after a sad movie or after a horror movie? To do this, I am studying 4 different emotions: happy, sad, fear, and disgust. And, I propose that disgusting contexts are particularly harmful to advertising recall due to functional and evolutionary reasons. So far, my studies confirm my predictions.

In another paper, I am investigating how the attitude toward the brand of advertising creatives change their ability to predict consumers' ad liking. I found that people who dislike the brand are better at predicting consumers' evaluations; creatives who like the brand tend to overestimate that these evaluations will be positive.

Cátia Alves

Cátia Alves

Cátia Alves is a PhD candidate in Management and her research focuses on consumer psychology, emotions and creativity.

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