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Ayelet Gneezy - UC San Diego. La Jolla, CA, US

Ayelet Gneezy Ayelet Gneezy

Professor of Behavioral Sciences & Marketing | UC San Diego


Ayelet Gneezy’s research addresses a wide variety of questions pertaining to consumer behavior.







Prof. Ayelet Gneezy Associate Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at UCSD 21   S2B   P4   Ayelet Gneezy Ayelet Gneezy Interview: 2013 Boulder Summer Conference CFDM



Gneezy’s research has been published in leading academic journals, including Science, PNAS, the Journal of Marketing Research, Marketing Science, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and the Journal of Consumer Research, and was featured by top media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Scientific American, The Huffington Post, and The Atlantic.

Her research addresses a wide variety of questions pertaining to consumer behavior such as behavioral pricing, prosocial behavior and charitable giving, social preferences (e.g., promise accounting, negative reciprocity, fairness), and factors affecting individuals’ quality of life. In her research, Gneezy collaborates with both small (e.g., a local winery) and large (e.g., Disney) firms and organizations, allowing her to conduct field experiments and test her predictions in “the wild.” Gneezy is also collaborating with organizations and researchers interested in questions that address the many challenges facing our society such as poverty, female genital mutilation (FGM), and health. She is the co-founder and faculty director of the Rady School of Management’s US-Israel on Innovation & Economic Sustainability (USIC), and the Center for Social Innovation & Impact (CSII).

Gneezy comes to UC San Diego from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, where she earned her Ph.D. in marketing. Before embarking on her academic career, she managed the strategic planning department of DataPro Proximity (a subsidiary of BBDO Worldwide).

Areas of Expertise (4)

Prosocial Behavior

Behavioral Pricing

Social Preferences

Consumer Behavior

Education (2)

University of Chicago: Ph.D., Business 2007

University of Teesside, UK: M.B.A., Business 1997

Media Appearances (3)

The High Financial Price of Our Short Attention Spans

The Wall Street Journal  


One likely explanation involves the tendency of people to think and read faster on their smartphones, as we continually scroll down the screen for more stimulation. And the news gets even worse. Recent work by Adrian Ward, Kristen Duke, Ayelet Gneezy and Maarten Bos shows that just having your smartphone next to you—even if it isn’t turned on—can diminish your cognitive capacity.

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Pay-It-Forward Debt Relief

Inside Higher ED  


The pay-it-forward psychology is critical to the program’s success. Ayelet Gneezy, an associate professor of behavior science and marketing at the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego, and an expert on "pay-it-forward" and "pay-what-you-want" models, said that the program's success will require a few key features: a well-crafted ask, fostering a sense of charitable giving and a reasonable time frame for paying back into the fund. Anand said that the university will keep in touch with graduates of the program, but details about how, when and how frequently are still being decided.

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Free for all: the psychology of pay-what-you-want cafes

The Guardian  


The model must work, however, otherwise why would businesses use it? “It depends,” says Ayelet Gneezy, associate professor of behavioural sciences and marketing at the University of California’s Rady School of Management, who researches PWYW and people’s responses to it. “It does work, but not always..."

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Articles (5)

Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One's Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity.

Journal of the Association of Consumer Research

Ward, A., Duke, K., Gneezy, A., & Bos, M.

2017 Our smartphones enable—and encourage—constant connection to information, entertainment, and each other. They put the world at our fingertips, and rarely leave our sides. Although these devices have immense potential to improve welfare, their persistent presence may come at a cognitive cost. In this research, we test the “brain drain” hypothesis that the mere presence of one’s own smartphone may occupy limited-capacity cognitive resources, thereby leaving fewer resources available for other tasks and undercutting cognitive performance. Results from two experiments indicate that even when people are successful at maintaining sustained attention—as when avoiding the temptation to check their phones—the mere presence of these devices reduces available cognitive capacity. Moreover, these cognitive costs are highest for those highest in smartphone dependence. We conclude by discussing the practical implications of this smartphone-induced brain drain for consumer decision-making and consumer welfare.

Signaling Virtue: Charitable Behavior under Consumer Elective Pricing.

Marketing Science

Jung, M., Nelson, L.D., Gneezy, U., & Gneezy, A.

2017 Four field experiments examined the quantitative and qualitative forces influencing behaviors under consumer elective pricing called “shared social responsibility” (SSR, Gneezy, Gneezy, Nelson, & Brown, 2010). Under SSR consumers can pay what they want and a percentage of their payment goes to support a charitable cause. Customers in our experiments were sensitive to the presence of charitable giving, paying more when a portion of their payment went to charity (Studies 1-4), but were largely insensitive to what portion of their payment went to charity (Studies 1 and 2). To test possible explanations we examined how consumers’ qualitative concerns to signal a positive image influenced their decisions and found that neither self-selection into paying (Studies 3 and 4) nor social pressure (Study 4) explained higher payments under SSR.

Pay-what-you-want, identity, and self-signaling in markets

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Ayelet Gneezy, Uri Gneezy, Gerhard Riener, Leif D Nelson

2012 We investigate the role of identity and self-image consideration under “pay-what-you-want” pricing. Results from three field experiments show that often, when granted the opportunity to name the price of a product, fewer consumers choose to buy it than when the price is fixed and low. We show that this opt-out behavior is driven largely by individuals’ identity and self-image concerns; individuals feel bad when they pay less than the “appropriate” price, causing them to pass on the opportunity to purchase the product altogether.

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Paying to be nice: Consistency and costly prosocial behavior

Management Science

Ayelet Gneezy, Alex Imas, Amber Brown, Leif D Nelson, Michael I Norton

2012 Building on previous research in economics and psychology, we propose that the costliness of initial prosocial behavior positively influences whether that behavior leads to consistent future behaviors. We suggest that costly prosocial behaviors serve as a signal of prosocial identity and that people subsequently behave in line with that self-perception. In contrast, costless prosocial acts do not signal much about one's prosocial identity, so subsequent behavior is less likely to be consistent and may even show the reductions in prosocial behavior associated with licensing. The results of a laboratory experiment and a large field experiment converge to support our account.

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Shared social responsibility: A field experiment in pay-what-you-want pricing and charitable giving


Ayelet Gneezy, Uri Gneezy, Leif D Nelson, Amber Brown

2010 A field experiment (N = 113,047 participants) manipulated two factors in the sale of souvenir photos. First, some customers saw a traditional fixed price, whereas others could pay what they wanted (including $0). Second, approximately half of the customers saw a variation in which half of the revenue went to charity. At a standard fixed price, the charitable component only slightly increased demand, as similar studies have also found. However, when participants could pay what they wanted, the same charitable component created a treatment that was substantially more profitable. Switching from corporate social responsibility to what we term shared social responsibility works in part because customized contributions allow customers to directly express social welfare concerns through the purchasing of material goods.

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