Passing of Peter Wright, A Pioneer of Consumer Research

On behalf of Marian Friestad:

It is with great sadness that we report the death of one of the pioneers of consumer research, Peter Wright.

Peter Lee Wright was born on September 4, 1943 in Northampton, MA. He was a self- described “Army Brat” who moved frequently during his school years, graduating from the Frankfurt American High School in Germany.

He received his BS degree from North Carolina State University, MBA from the University of Virginia, and a PhD from Penn State University. His first faculty position was at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He was soon recruited by Stanford University, where he published extensively, becoming a Full Professor in the Graduate School of Business. In 1996 he moved to the Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon.

 Peter has had a huge impact on the field of consumer research through his pathbreaking work in the areas of decision making, advertising, and persuasion. In the 1970s, he was at the forefront of researchers who examined key underlying factors in decision processes that explained departures from economic theory, such as simplifying vs. optimizing. Many people used that paper as a jumping off point to develop various decision models and frameworks. His 1973 paper on cognitive processes mediating acceptance of advertising had a similar impact on an entire body of work that began with the Hierarchy of Effects framework and was devoted to teasing apart steps in that process.

 More recently, he spawned a new research area through his work on persuasion knowledge, co-authored with Marian Friestad. He first introduced the concept in his Presidential Address at the Association for Consumer Research in 1985, where he called it "schemer schema." Schemer schema was then developed by Friestad and Wright into the Persuasion Knowledge Model (PKM). The PKM is unique in recognizing the active involvement of consumers in marketing interactions, changing the previously held view that consumers are simply targets of persuasion.

His colleagues and doctoral students will remember him for his bright mind, quick wit, and wicked sense of humor. He will be missed deeply by all whose lives he touched.

Peter is survived by his wife, Marian Friestad, two stepdaughters and four cherished grandchildren. Condolences and remembrances can be sent to Marian Friestad at msf@uoregon.edu.

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