Whether it’s solving the world’s biggest problems or investigating the potential of novel discoveries, researchers at UCF are on the edge scientific breakthroughs that aim to make an impact. Through the Research in 60 Seconds series, student and faculty researchers condense their complex studies into bite-sized summaries so you can know how and why Knights plan to improve our world.

Name: Yael Zemack-Rugar
Position: Associate professor of marketing

Why are you interested in this research?
People often think of marketing as the study of advertising. Instead, much of marketing research, especially consumer behavior research, is centered around understanding how people make decisions. I am interested in consumer behavior research because understanding this behavior can have an impact in areas that are consequential for our wellbeing, such as financial planning, academic/career success, fitness and health behaviors, among others.

What inspires you to conduct your research?
I am generally a curious person and I like to learn new things. Because consumer behavior is all around us every day, and because I myself experience the world as a consumer, I can find interesting questions in my own day-to-day life. I like the real-life relevance of the work I do. The issues I investigate are real issues that people contend with every day and that can have an impact on their lives. I am inspired to understand those issues and create solutions that help both marketers and consumers make better choices and live better lives.

Are you a faculty member or student conducting research at UCF? We want to hear from you! Tell us about your research at bit.ly/ucf-research-60-form.

How does UCF empower you to do your research?
I have a fantastic department full of smart people whom I can consult with and run ideas by. Our college encourages quality publications via grants and awards, which also support research productivity. We have a great participant pool, being a large college with many students. That is a key asset that is rare and highly valuable.

What major honors or publications have you earned for your research?
I have successfully published my work in some of the most competitive outlets in my field, including the Journal of Marketing Research and the Journal of Consumer Psychology. These journals have acceptance rates around 6%. I have also published in a similar quality journal in the area of psychology (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology), demonstrating the interdisciplinary value of my work. As a result of my accomplishments, I was awarded the UCF Research Incentive Award in 2019. I have also been awarded two Summer Research Grants by the College of Business, as well as one by UCF, and I am a two-time recipient of the Dean’s Productivity Award. My work has received attention in the popular press, including in publications such as The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal as well as several podcasts, such as In Clear Focus and COB Dean Paul Jarley’s podcast Is This Really a Thing?

Why is this research important?
There are many areas in which consumers and society struggle. We’re face epidemic obesity and record levels of consumer debt. We want to do better, but we often fail. Some may not associate this problem with marketing, but many of the behaviors related to these issues are consumption When we think of groceries, restaurants, and pricing and incentives in those industries; when we consider the banking industry, credit cards, and the reward systems for debt repayment; when we consider savings rates and options, and the “nudges” that can change savings behavior. All of those have to do with marketing and consumer behavior. I feel that if we can learn to better understand consumer decision making, we can better design products and systems to improve outcomes. We, as marketers, can help consumers do better, and we can create a win-win-win for marketers, consumersand society as a whole.

How to Get Involved with Research at UCF

  • F-LEARN @ UCF: A living-learning community for STEM students entering UCF from high school that provides hands-on early research opportunity for academic success.
  • Getting Started Workshops: The Office of Research hosts workshops that inform students about how to get started in research and find a faculty member to work with and the first steps on getting started in research.
  • Honors Undergraduate Thesis: Over the course of two to four semesters, students work closely with a faculty committee to research, write, defend, and publish an original thesis that serves as an honors capstone product of their undergraduate career.
  • Introduction to Research and Creative Scholarship Opportunities (INTRO) Mentoring Program: A semester-long immersive, classroom experience offered in fall and spring semesters that provides students ways to get connected to research opportunities. This program is available in person or online.
  • Office of Undergraduate Research: OUR is dedicated to cultivating and supporting world-class research at UCF. Students can connect with the office for any questions they may have about research or to find opportunities.
  • Peer MentoringThis program connects students with experienced undergraduate researchers who will provide guidance on how to get started and get support through research experiences.
  • Research Positions Database: This online resource allows students to discover research opportunities with UCF researchers across various disciplines. Please note faculty contact information is password protected, but students can gain access by attending a peer mentoring session, completing the Research Roadmaps webcourse, and through other engagement opportunities.
  • Research Roadmaps Webcourse: The is an online, non-credit, self-paced course that introduces students to research opportunities at UCF. It provides the same information as peer mentoring sessions or a workshop, but at your own pace. Completion of this course also provides you access to the Research Positions Database.
  • SONA: This is a research participation system that allows students who are looking to become participants in studies, usually in exchange for course credit, to find opportunities. The College of Health Professions and SciencesCollege of Business and Department of Psychology are among some of the units at UCF that list opportunities here.
  • Summer Research Academy: A three-day event in July that’s designed to support UCF undergraduate students across all majors who are interested in participating in research and creative scholarship. This is an ideal opportunity for students who want to begin research in the fall.
  • T-LEARN @ UCFliving-learning community for first-year, transfer students at UCF who have already earned an Associate in Arts degree. T-LEARN provides a select group of students interested in STEM hands-on learning experiences by helping them engage in research.

Are you a faculty member or student conducting research at UCF? We want to hear from you! Tell us about your research at bit.ly/ucf-research-60-form.