Raj Raghunathan - The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business. Austin, TX, US

Raj Raghunathan Raj Raghunathan

Professor, Department of Marketing | The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

Austin, TX, US

Consumer psychology, buying behaviors, and decision making


Areas of Expertise (10)

Consumer Behavior Product Branding Brand Experience Marketing Strategies Consumer and Market Insights Happiness Decision Making Buying Motivation Consumer Psychology Social / Emotional Assessment


Raj (Rajagopal) Raghunathan is a marketing professor and expert whose work juxtaposes theories from psychology, behavioral sciences, decision theory and marketing to explain how consumers evaluate market choices, make buying decisions, and justify their preferences. His research frequently counters conventional wisdom about consumer motivation and why buyers behave as they do.

Raghunathan researches and teaches at McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of the blog Happy Smarts, which uses his academic insights to explore the determinants of leading a happy and fulfilling life. He also writes the blog Sapient Nature for Psychology Today, with "bite-sized insights on the human condition."

Raj’s work has been published in top marketing and psychology journals such as the Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Marketing, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Motivation and Emotion, and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

He has also been cited in the popular press, such as The New York Times, the Austin American Statesman, and Self magazine. Raj was recognized as a Marketing Science Young Scholar in 2005 for his contributions to the field of Marketing, and was awarded the prestigious NSF Career Award (for $440,000).



Raj Raghunathan Publication Raj Raghunathan Publication




Education (3)

New York University, Stern School of Business: Ph.D., Marketing

Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta: M.B.A., Marketing and Behavioural Sciences

Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences: B.Eng., Chemical Engineering

Media Appearances (17)

In a gloomy India, an IIT and a state government have set out in pursuit of happiness

Quartz  online


There are at least three benefits to being happy, said Raj Raghunathan, a professor at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, and author of the book, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy.

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3 Positive Tips for Staying Mentally Strong in Tough Times

Huffington Post  online


Answer by Raj Raghunathan, Professor of Marketing and happiness expert at UT Austin, on Quora. It’s obviously tough to sustain happiness through tough times—which is what makes them tough! As the saying goes, time is the best healer, which I have found to be true. But in the meantime, here are three things that I would strongly recommend:

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Too many smart, successful people make a mistake that leads to unhappiness

Business Insider  online


In the book, Raghunathan outlines the multiple ways in which seemingly intelligent, successful people unwittingly sabotage their own chances at happiness. One of the "deadly happiness sins," as Raghunathan calls the saboteurs, has to do with our need for control over every outcome in our lives.

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Why Smart, Successful People Don't Value Happiness Enough

Fortune  online


Despite the fact that happiness ranks high on most people’s lists of what they want from life (often in the No. 1 spot), almost no one ever asks the genie for it. Raj Raghunthan explores this notion.

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Why smart people ain't too happy in their lives

The Time of India  


All the accomplishments might mean that a person is less likely to be satisfied with life. Most often this is because people may have an idea of what will make them happy, but go about it in a way that makes them angry and dissatisfied.

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Why So Many Smart People Aren’t Happy

The Atlantic  online


But research into happiness has also yielded something a little less obvious: Being better educated, richer, or more accomplished doesn’t do much to predict whether someone will be happy. In fact, it might mean someone is less likely to be satisfied with life.

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If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?

Time Money  online


For people who don’t have their basic needs met – food, shelter, clothing – money does enhance happiness levels. Research has found that once you start tethering your self-esteem to your bank balance, it starts backfiring. Money is no longer about the freedom it gives you to do the things you want to do, but an end itself.

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7 Ways You’re Thwarting Your Own Happiness

Time  online


The answer, it turns out, is that the smart-and-successful commit some of the very “happiness sins” that the not-so-smart-or-successful do. Indeed, the smarter and more successful you are, the greater the chance that you commit these sins.

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Intelligent. Successful. But unhappy?

The Telegraph  online


How happy are you? If the answer is, “Well, who is?”, you’re not alone. Last month, the World Happiness Index of 2016 ranked Britons 23rd in the world out of 158 countries, and figures from the Office for National Statistics found that affluent boroughs such as Camden and Islington report the lowest levels of life satisfaction in the country. Raj Raghunathan is a happiness researcher and professor of marketing at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, where he has taught more than 100,000 students a course called “What are the determinants of a fulfilling and happy life?”.

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How Being A Control Freak Is Wrecking Your Health And Career

Fast Company  online


If you can improve your internal control, you'll be much less likely to try controlling others—and your job, health, and personal relationships may begin to reflect it.

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The Second-Best Happiness Tip

Psychology Today  online


Happiness doesn’t just feel good, it’s also useful. Researchers have found at least three important benefits from being happy: 1) greater success at work (e.g., happier people earn more) 2) better health (happier people live longer), and 3) better relationships (e.g., happier people are more likely to be married).

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How To Deal With Negative People

Beliefnet  online


Raj Raghunathan on dealing with negative family members, spouse, friends, co-workers or boss.

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ISB makes debut in online courses by partnering with Coursera

Business Standard  online


The certificate course on happiness and fulfillment will be the first to be dished out in the series starting mid-2015.

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MBA Class Project Test Students' Ability to Make Strangers Smile

The Huffington Post  online


MBA students in Raj Raghunathan's "Creativity and Leadership" class put their ability to spread happiness to the test, as part of a project that involved "altruistic pranks."

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Keeping Calm When You're on the Clock

The Huffington Post  online


Stress can be harmful to our work, too. For one thing, it limits our thinking, explains Raj Raghunathan, by reducing the portion of the brain we are using.

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Banish the Holiday Blues! Three Tips From the Happiness Professor

ID University | Brands, Markets & Innovation  online


Raj Raghunathan, creator of the blog Happy Smarts and author of the upcoming book If You’re So Smart Why Aren’t You Happy?

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Research Lends Insight on Audi's "Green Police" Spot: Making Eco-Friendly More Acceptable to Consumers?

ID University | Brands, Markets & Innovation  online


Julie Irwin and Raj Raghunathan show that while 40 percent of consumers say they are willing to buy green products, only four percent actually follow through.

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Sample Talks (1)

If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Happy?

Raghunathan examines the question of why so few people purposely seek to create happiness for themselves, even though happiness ranks as one of the most desired human conditions. Based on his research and observations, he gives tips for achieving happiness as part of a lifelong journey.



  • Keynote
  • Moderator
  • Panelist
  • Workshop Leader
  • Corporate Training

Articles (5)

Raj Raghunathan Citations
Google Scholar


Listing of top scholarly works by Raj Raghunathan.

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


Little is known about how product sustainability affects consumers' preferences. The authors propose that sustainability may not always be an asset, even if most consumers care about social and environmental issues.

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The Unhealthy = Tasty Intuition and Its Effects on Taste Inferences, Enjoyment, and Choice of Food Products
American Marketing Association Journal of Marketing


When information pertaining to the assessment of the healthiness of food items is provided, the less healthy the item is portrayed to be, (1) the better is its inferred taste, (2) the more it is enjoyed during actual consumption, and (3) the greater is the preference for it.

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Informational Properties of Anxiety and Sadness, and Displaced Coping
Journal of Consumer Research


While anxiety triggers a preference for options that are safer and provide a sense of control, sadness triggers a preference for options that are more rewarding and comforting.

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Mood as a resource in processing self-relevant information
Handbook of Affect and Social Cognition


Examines the role of mood in determining how people seek and process information about themselves.

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