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Joy Lu - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Joy Lu

Assistant Professor | Carnegie Mellon University


Joy Lu's research utilizes mathematical models to examine consumer behavior and psychology.


Joy Lu's research utilizes mathematical models to examine consumer behavior and psychology. She explores such topics as media consumption, bounded rationality, information processing, product search and explainable artificial intelligence.

Areas of Expertise (7)

Media Consumption ‎

Consumer Behavior

Consumer Psychology

Information Processing

Bounded Rationality

Product Search

Explainable Artificial Intelligence

Media Appearances (4)

The curious origins of online shopping

BBC Worklife  online


But it’s a necessity that’s also done from the comfort of our own homes, and easier to do nowadays since more grocers and stores have adopted online ordering, door-side delivery or kerbside pick-up (click-and-collect). “That convenience has really elevated online shopping,” adds Joy Lu, an assistant professor of marketing who specialises in consumer psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in the US state of Pennsylvania.

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Viewers Actually 'Binge-Watch' TV with a lot of Self-Control

UC San Diego TOday  online


“We find increased plans to binge can be triggered by merely framing content as more sequential vs. independent, which suggest that media companies can strategically emphasize content structure to influence consumer decisions and media viewing styles,” said study first author, Joy Lu, assistant professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business.

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Tepper Students Aim To Help Increase Blood Donors

Carnegie Mellon University  online


With the guidance of Tong (Joy) Lu(opens in new window), assistant professor of marketing, and Alan Scheller-Wolf(opens in new window), Richard M. Cyert Professor of Operations Management, students Matthew Greenfield, Samuel Hartman, and Joshua Kennedy analyzed anonymized data to derive managerial insights(opens in new window). One of the key aspects they explored was how individual characteristics may impact blood donations in Pittsburgh.

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Could dynamic pricing be influencing how much you pay for your plane ticket?

The Washington Post  online


Joy Lu, an assistant professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon University, says airlines are using sophisticated technology to determine how much a customer is willing to pay for a ticket. “To a traveler, that may seem like price discrimination,” she says.

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Industry Expertise (5)

Media - Online

Media - Broadcast

Media - Print

Consumer Goods

Consumer Services

Accomplishments (1)

David M. Grether Prize in Social Science (professional)


Education (2)

California Institute of Technology: B.S., Economics, Engineering & Applied Science

University of Pennsylvania: Ph.D., Marketing and Statistics

Articles (5)

Social Network Design for Inducing Effort

Quantitative Marketing and Economics

2020 Many companies create and manage communities where consumers observe and exchange information about the effort exerted by other consumers. Such communities are especially popular in the areas of fitness, education, dieting, and financial savings. We study how to optimally structure such consumer communities when the objective is to maximize the total or average amount of effort expended. Using network modeling and assuming peer influence through conformity, we find that the optimal community design consists of a set of disconnected or very loosely connected sub-communities, each of which is very densely connected within. Also, each sub-community in the optimal design consists of consumers selected such that their “standalone” propensity to exert effort correlates negatively with their propensity to conform and correlates positively with their propensity to influence others.

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Testing Theories of Goal Progress within Online Learning

Journal of Marketing Research

2021 Online educational platforms increasingly allow learners to consume content at their own pace with on-demand formats, in contrast to the synchronous content of traditional education. Thus, it is important to understand and model learner engagement within these environments. Using data from four business courses hosted on Coursera, the authors model learner behavior as a two-stage decision process, with the first stage determining across-day continuation (vs. quitting) and the second stage determining within-day choices among lectures, quizzes, and breaks. By modeling the heterogeneity across learners pursuing lecture and quiz completion goals, the authors capture different patterns of consumption that correspond to extant theories of goal progress within an empirical field setting. They find that most individuals exhibit a learning style whereby lecture utility changes as an inverted U-shaped function of current progress.

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Variety-Seeking, Satiation, and Maximizing Enjoyment Over Time

Journal of Consumer Psychology

2019 In this article, we examine the different ways in which consumers balance their consumption behavior in order to maximize utility. In particular, we focus on how people balance repeating the same options with the decision to seek variety. While earlier research represented variety seeking as a means of reducing physical satiation (McAlister, 1982), more recent research suggests that the relationship between choosing variety and minimizing satiation is more complex, as these behaviors may be motivated and influenced by exogenous factors. Past reviews have largely looked at the two processes separately. In this article, we discuss the nuanced relationship between these two constructs and point to future research directions that may help us further understand how consumers tackle the everyday challenge of maximizing enjoyment over time.

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Learning Where to Look for High Value Improves Decision Making Asymmetrically

Frontiers in Psychology

2017 Decision making in any brain is imperfect and costly in terms of time and energy. Operating under such constraints, an organism could be in a position to improve performance if an opportunity arose to exploit informative patterns in the environment being searched. Such an improvement of performance could entail both faster and more accurate (i.e., reward-maximizing) decisions. The present study investigated the extent to which human participants could learn to take advantage of immediate patterns in the spatial arrangement of serially presented foods such that a region of space would consistently be associated with greater subjective value. Eye movements leading up to choices demonstrated rapidly induced biases in the selective allocation of visual fixation and attention that were accompanied by both faster and more accurate choices of desired goods as implicit learning occurred.

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Visual Attention in Consumer Settings

International Handbook of Consumer Psychology


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