Presentation of the Fellow Award Fellow in Consumer Behavior to James R. Bettman


Harold H. Kassarjian (1993) ,"Presentation of the Fellow Award Fellow in Consumer Behavior to James R. Bettman", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 6.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, 1993      Page 6



Harold H. Kassarjian, UCLA

The Fellow in Consumer Research award - the highest honor that ACR can bestow on any individual - has been given to only eleven recipients in the past. Those individuals had emerged from marketing and statistics and psychology - scholars who crossed over and became consumer researchers, migrating from other disciplines.

This year, the award, goes to a recipient who is somewhat unlike the others that have stood here before. He is first and foremost a researcher in consumer behavior. Although he may not have realized it at the time, for his entire academic and scholarly career he has always been a consumer researcher. His undergraduate work touched upon consumer choice. His dissertation, albeit in Operations Research, was a consumer behavior dissertation.

But, before discussing the man, perhaps it is appropriate to reiterate the intent of the award. The Fellow in Consumer Behavior Award was designed to recognize that individual who has made a long term, major scholarly impact in consumer research. It was not to be an entitlement that one earns by writing enough articles or collecting enough cites. It was not for a single work or book or monograph. It was not to be a routine event. The status, Fellow in Consumer Behavior, was to be reserved as recognition for scholarly contributions spanning not just a few years but rather a sustained distinguished long term commitment to consumer research.

The recipient this year - James R. Bettman, breezed through the tortous nomination, selection, and confirmation process. The decision was not only received enthusiastically, but the phrase often heard was an exasperated, "It's about time!" For we all know that Bettman, without any doubt, is an intellectual giant - many of us think the very best our field has to offer.

Jim started his academic career at Yale University as a freshman, and stayed on for his doctorate. For his dissertation, he followed two consumers around a grocery store for a two month period asking them to verbalize their thoughts. Bettman was attempting to record and model the behavior of real consumers in real grocery stores long before any of us had heard the term naturalistic inquiry.

At UCLA we had heard rumors that there was a brilliant young doctoral student at Yale. We believed that very smart people think very powerful thoughts. If nothing else, Jim Bettman was very smart and we wanted him. Within a few years we were proven correct. This man had become the best reviewer the Journal of Consumer Research had on its team. In time he was on the editorial board for the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Marketing Research, and several other major journals. He was to become the co-editor of the Journal of Consumer Research for seven years. During those years that medium was transformed into one of the major scholarly journals in the world.

Bettman is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, a Fellow of the American Psychological Society, and he was elected president of ACR in 1987. Few may realize that he is also a superb administrator.

But the Fellow in Consumer Behavior Award is meant to recognize life-long contributions to consumer research and I have not yet said much about his research. That is because his research is well known to every person sitting in this audience. His monograph, An Information Processing Theory of Consumer Choice, has been required reading for all of us for more than a decade. It is arguably the most cited piece in our field. That book incited and abetted a revolution in the direction consumer research would take in the following decades and made the term information processing a common word in all our lives. It won the 1992 Converse Award.

So too, we have all read his Journal of Marketing paper on "Memory Factors in Consumer Choice," for which he won the 1979 Maynard Award. His wonderful piece with Capon and Lutz on Cognitive Algebra in Multi-attribute Attitude Models in the Journal of Marketing Research was a finalist for the 1980 O'Dell Award.

Yes, we all know and have marveled at his work - for example, consider his brilliantly conceived concept of constructive processing - and we all know the impact his work has had on all of us as researchers. And yet, only a few may know the full extent of his scholarship - a dozen papers in the Journal of Consumer Research - his first being in Volume 1, No. 1 of the Journal. Some dozen chapters in books, and a powerful new book about to be published by Cambridge University Press. He has some 50 other papers published in such places as the Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Business, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Management Science, and on and on. He is the only person I know who has been asked to write two chapters in the Annual Review of Psychology, in two different fields. And there is a much more....

But, let us not ignore teaching, for Jim is a professor's professor - inspiring, intellectually powerful, creative, and most of all he displays a charming sense of humor. He has served on more than 50 doctoral committees and as chair for 15 dissertations. Four of those, Mita Sujan, Chris Puto, Kevin Keller, and Itamar Simonson have won ten dissertation awards of various sorts among them. As might be expected, teaching awards were to come - the George Robbins award at UCLA and, at Duke, the highly prestigious campus wide recognition as Scholar-Teacher of the Year.

Eric Johnson commented not long ago, "It is, in fact, impossible to imagine what consumer behavior would be like today without Jim Bettman." We agree. A friend and award winning teacher, a gentleman, a powerful intellect, a brilliant researcher, an editor extroardinaire, a legendary reviewer, and a professor's professor. In addition, a party animal well known for his comedy routines.

It is with deeply felt humility and a feeling of great honor that I stand here and make the Fellow in Consumer Behavior Award to James R. Bettman ...

In recognition of his singular contribution to understanding of consumer information processing and choice making, as researcher, teacher, mentor, and editor.



Harold H. Kassarjian, UCLA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20 | 1993

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