This week I was fortunate to be one of the few to participate in the Society for Consumer Psychology Boutique Conference on Vice and Virtue Consumption.
One of the great things about small conferences – this one had less than 120 attendees – is that you get a lot more interaction with people. I find that conversations are also easier because, given there are only 2 or 3 streams, the chances are good that you both caught the same talk. And there were some great talks! Some that stand out now in recollection are: frequent stock traders also tend to frequently experience intense negative emotions (Michal Strahilavitz, Dan Ariely and Joseph Harvey); people opt-out from prosocial incentives when they can (Daniel Schwartz, Elizabeth A. Keenan, Alex Imas and Ayelet Gneezy); people paid to persuade others to donate to a charity are less persuasive than those not paid (Alixandra Barasch, Jonathan Berman and Deborah Small); people lie more to earn cash when they expected to win the cash in the first place (Ellen Garbarino, Robert Slonim and Marie Claire Villeval). Of course, there was also my talk about the power of aggregating potential collective action 🙂
I also went to a couple of interesting workshops. One was about analysing unstructured data for consumer research (Karsten T. Hansen), which gave me some ideas on how to analyze the textual component of online reviews. It was also another reminder than I need to learn to use R. Another workshop on mediation analysis (Derek D. Rucker and Zakary L. Tormala) was a good refresher, particularly on suppressor variables.
Another stand out for the conference was the location of the social events. The first night was dinner at Museum for Contemporary Art, which had marvellous views of the Harbour. As our dinner was starting the ship Explorer of the Stars was just pulling out. A decade or two ago this was the largest cruise ship in the word; I think it is now equal second largest. It is truly massive. Before disembarking the ship blew it horn in warning. The sound wave was so strong I was literally pushed back. On the second night we had cocktails at Harbour 222 which provided unique views of the Opera House and the Domain.
The final touch were the tables at lunch displaying Australian classic foods: one full of Tim Tams, one with Cottee’s cordial, and one with toast and … Vegemite! Sadly, some people did’t realise that the cordial needed to be watered down and must now imagine Aussies have a rather strange sense of taste. Of course, this true for those who like Vegemite.
A special thanks goes to the University of Sydney, Elizabeth Cowley, Christina Anthony, and Adam Duhachek for organizing such a great conference. I was really impressed in many ways, especially with the number of great researchers they managed to persuade to make the long trip down under.