Julie Irwin - The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business. Austin, TX, US

Julie Irwin Julie Irwin

Professor, Department of Business, Government and Society & Department of Marketing | The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

Austin, TX, US

Psychology of consumer behavior, decision-making, ethical consumption, green marketing, and corporate social responsibility


Areas of Expertise (12)

Consumer Perception of Labor Practices Sustainable Products Consumer Decision Making Csr Corporate Social Responsibility Consumer Psychology Ethical Consumption Green Marketing Consumer Behavior Environmental Studies Public Policy Marketing Communication Ethical Decisions


Julie R. Irwin is an educator and researcher examining how human psychology impacts consumer behavior and consumption, the marketing of green products, corporate social responsibility initiatives, and marketing strategy. Her discoveries are often surprising and counter-intuitive to prevailing wisdom, helping us better understand the hidden motivations that drive behavior within our organizations, society and marketplaces.

Irwin is a professor in the department of marketing and the department of business, government and society at the McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin. Her previous faculty appointments were at the Stern School of Business at New York University, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Irwin serves on the Editorial Boards of Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, and Journal of Economic Psychology. She served as a Guest Editor at Journal of Consumer Psychology in 1999 and recently served as an Associate Editor at Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

She has published over thirty refereed journal articles and book chapters and has served as a Principle Investigator on two National Science Foundation grants. Her primary research interest is in consumer decision making, especially about issues invoking emotion, ethics, and/or risk. She also has an ongoing research interest in methodology and scaling.







Education (3)

University of Colorado: Ph.D., Cognitive Psychology

University of Colorado: M.A., Cognitive Psychology

College of William and Mary: B.A., Psychology/English

High honors.

Media Appearances (15)

Uber versus Cities: Let’s Discuss Without Forcing into Political Silos

Huffington Post  online


Last Monday Uber and Lyft left Austin because they lost an election on a proposition that would have allowed them to use their own background checks instead of using the city’s fingerprint-based system.

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Experts: Whole Foods was right to counterattack on cake claims

Austin American Statesman  online


Whole Foods had formed a crisis team to go after attacks with a level of fervor and speed previously absent. Whole Foods “would have benefited from this sort of activist and straightforward response to earlier controversies,” said Julie Irwin, marketing professor. “People will think twice now before accusing the brand of something, especially when — as it appears in this case — the accusation is untrue.”

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Irwin: Ethical companies can get consumers to vote with their wallets

Austin American Statesman  online


Julie Irwin, professor of marketing at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin has conducted research showing products that make no ethical claims vastly outsell their more ethical cousins.

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Ethical Shoppers Don’t Inspire Us—They Bug Us

Harvard Business Review  online


Our pretests show that people do think ethical attributes are important. So it’s not that they don’t care about them. If they know that something has been made under terrible labor conditions, they probably won’t buy it. It’s just that they would rather not find out. Julie Irwin did groundbreaking work on this idea. She found that people will use ethical information if it’s right in front of them, but they won’t seek it out.

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Irwin: Nevermind the insults; Donald Trump is your friend

Austin American Statesman  online


Donald Trump is among the leaders for the Republican nomination for president. The majority of media reports about why this is happening have been about how a person could be so liked when his primary method of communication appears to be insulting people. On the other hand, if you understand the social psychology of insults, it becomes easier to explain the Trump phenomenon.

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Why Companies Are Blind to Child Labor

Harvard Business Review  online


Major companies such as Apple and Samsung claim to adhere to strict policies about child labor. A recent report by Amnesty International shows that suppliers linked to major technology chains utilize child labor in the mining of cobalt in the Dominican Republic of Congo. This suggests while companies do care about the ethics of their operations, they’re not actively investigating their supply chains to seek out this information.

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Irwin: Colleges favor men — but no one suggests they go to lower schools

Austin American Statesman  online


The University of Texas is at the center of an affirmative action case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. The details can be better found elsewhere, but basically they concern whether the university’s system of admissions — which sometimes includes race — is constitutional

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UT professor: Financial security a good gift for the holidays

NewsOK  online


The idea that Christmas is about overspending because overspending is love is so ubiquitous we barely notice it anymore. To add to the problem, we are told that going into debt to pay for Christmas is no big deal. It's easy to find a lender, too, but most of them are bad news. A payday loan store near where I work offers a 14-day holiday loan with annual percentage rates up to 664.29 percent — a ridiculously high number that is not unusual

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Do People Care About Fair Trade, Ethical Consumption?

AFK Insider  online


In a series of experiments offering Americans choices between “standard” and ethically produced products, Irwin found that most won’t opt for the ethical option unless they have extensive background information about it.

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Ethical Consumerism Isn't Dead, It Just Needs Better Marketing

Harvard Business Review  online


Pessimism about ethical consumerism rests firmly on the assumption that consumers have one, stable utility structure and they express that utility in their purchasing. The problem is, human psychology does not work like that—people do not have only one value for things and they do not have a stable and consistent utility structure.

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7 Things Great Leaders Do to Be Courageous

Inc. Magazine  online


In the Harvard Business Review, Julie Irwin, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin's McCombs School of Business, examines the dangerous myth of absolute loyalty to a leader.

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Loyalty to a Leader is Overrated, Even Dangerous

Harvard Business Review  online


Unethical behavior in organizations almost always is caused by belief in and too much loyalty to a “great leader” who turns out to be morally compromised.

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The Psychology of Sweatshop Labor

Huffington Post Business  online


Julie Irwin and her colleagues from the University of Texas have found that people...prefer to remain willfully ignorant about the labor conditions behind their products.

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Is Happiness Tied to Emotions or Material Gifts?

PsychCentral  online


Bad experiences lead to more lasting unhappiness than do bad material purchases. Experiences ‘stay with’ us longer than material purchases, whether good or bad.

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What Older Women Want: A Female President

Huffington Post  online


Irwin explains that millennial women are less likely to vote for Hillary Clinton because real change will take real fighting, and most people will not fight to the extent necessary unless they have experienced the inequities first-hand and have internalized them in a deep and personal way.

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Sample Talks (1)

Willful Ignorance and Ethical Values

Julie Irwin and her colleagues from the University of Texas have found that people prefer to remain willfully ignorant about the labor conditions behind their products.



  • Keynote
  • Moderator
  • Panelist
  • Workshop Leader

Articles (6)

Julie R. Irwin Citations Google Scholar


Listing of top scholarly works by Julie R. Irwin.

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The Same Old Song: The Power of Familiarity in Music Choice Marketing Letters


We show that although consumers say they would prefer to listen to unfamiliar music, in actuality familiarity with music positively predicts preference for songs, play lists, and radio stations.

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The Sustainability Liability: Potential Negative Effects of Ethicality on Product Preference Journal of the American Marketing Association


In this research, the authors demonstrate that consumers associate higher product ethicality with gentleness-related attributes and lower product ethicality with strength-related attributes.

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Happiness for Sale: Do Experiential Purchases Make Consumers Happier than Material Purchases? Journal of Consumer Research


Previous theories have suggested that consumers will be happier if they spend their money on experiences such as travel as opposed to material possessions such as automobiles. We test this experience recommendation and show that it may be misleading in its general form.

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Negative Consequences of Dichotomizing Continuous Predictor Variables Journal of Marketing Research


The authors present historical results on the effects of dichotomization of normal predictor variables rederived in a regression context that may be more relevant to marketing researchers.

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Product Category Familiarity and Preference Construction Journal of Consumer Research


Marketers often base decisions about marketing strategies on the results of research designed to elicit information about consumers' preferences. We examine the effect of familiarity in two preference‐elicitation tasks, choice and matching judgments.

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