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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


Consumer psychology, buying behaviors, and decision making


Areas of Expertise (10)

Consumer Behavior

Consumer Psychology

Buying Motivation

Decision Making


Consumer and Market Insights

Marketing Strategies

Brand Experience

Product Branding

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



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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 (21)

3 Tips to Keep Self-Doubt at Bay and Be a ‘Character Butterfly’

Huffington Post  online


Professor Raj Raghunathan at The University of Texas at Austin, who teaches a course on happiness, found that consistently ranked at the top of people’s list of what they want to learn from his course is this: I would like to learn how to stop being bothered by what others are thinking of me.

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23 of the best business books you should read

Yahoo Finance  online


In fact, Raghunathan, who is a professor at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, argues that the very traits and behaviours that lead to professional success often sabotage our chances at happiness.

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The state of happiness

The Hindu Business Line  online


Developed by Dr Rajagopal Raghunathan, professor of marketing at the McCombs School of Business, University of Texas, who explores how people’s decisions affects happiness, the six-week course draws its content from pyschology, neuroscience and behavioural decision.

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Can You Really be Addicted to Fun?

MichaelRucker.com  online


Dr. Raj Raghunathan, professor at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas, Austin, also suggests that having fun can bring you closer to being more altruistic, happy, healthy, productive and creative. In his view, it is important to have fun, in a way that specifically works for you

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McCombs Professor Raj Raghunathan on Happiness and Fulfillment

Statesman  online


In Episode 11of “Statesman Shots,” we talk to happiness expert Raj Raghunathan, a UT McCombs School of Business professor whose research focuses on what makes us happy and how we make choices that do or don’t enhance that. How do age, career, social status and exclusivity affect whether we ultimately find happiness? Raj has some answers for us.

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Why It's Okay to Visit a Place Twice

Conde Nast Traveler  online


“We are hard-wired to like things more if we have had prior exposure to them, “ says Dr. Raj Raghunathan, marketing professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, and associate editor of the Journal of Consumer Psychology. “If you have already [been exposed to] something before—say, a strange-looking animal—and have lived to tell the tale, it must mean that the animal can’t be all that harmful.”

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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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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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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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Featured Speakers

AAUP Net  online

Dr. Raj Raghunathan is Professor of Marketing at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. He is interested in exploring the impact that people’s judgments and decisions have on their happiness and fulfillment.

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‘Indian Learners Are Extremely Focused on Building Tech and Business Skills’

BWCI World  online


In India, Coursera has partnered with the Indian School of Business (ISB). Under this partnership, we offer two specializations and two courses. A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment was ranked 4th most popular course in India on Coursera platform in 2016. The course is based on the award-winning class offered both at the Indian School of Business and at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, developed by Prof. Raj Raghunathan.

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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 (8)

Raj Raghunathan Citations Google Scholar

Listing of top scholarly works by Raj Raghunathan.

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Eating Healthy or Feeling Empty? How the "Healthy = Less Filling" Intuition Influences Satiety Journal of the Association for Consumer Research


To help understand the unconscious drivers of overeating, we examine the effect of health portrayals on people’s judgments of the fillingness of food.

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Information Valuation and Confirmation Bias in Virtual Communities: Evidence from Stock Message Boards Information Systems Research


Using data from 502 investor responses from a field experiment on one of the largest message board operators in South Korea, our analyses revealed that investors exhibit confirmation bias, whereby they preferentially treat messages that support their prior beliefs.

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The Repetition-Break Plot Structure Makes Effective Television Advertisements Journal of Marketing


The plot structure in television advertisements can enhance consumers' brand attitudes and foster increasing consumer and industry recognition.

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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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