16th Annual Robert Ferber and Seymour Sudman Dissertation Awards

plaque

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Robert Ferber and Seymour Sudman Dissertation Awards.

During a ceremony at the Survey Research Laboratory on the Urbana campus, three doctoral students were honored for the quality of their work utilizing survey research methodology. The two winners of the 2017 Robert Ferber and Seymour Sudman Dissertation Awards received $2000 awards and plaques commemorating their achievement. One other student received an honorable mention certificate and $200. Drs. Ferber and Sudman, in whose memory the awards were established, were eminent scholars at the University of Illinois in the field of survey research.

winners
The winners are from left to right in the photo: Joseph Yun, Nicolas Bottan, Sung-wan Kang.

Nicolas Bottan, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Economics, is the winner of the Robert Ferber Dissertation Award. His advisor is Dan Bernhardt and his dissertation— Choosing Your Pond: Revealed-Preference Estimates of Relative Income Concerns—investigates whether individuals care more—or less—about their absolute consumption levels vis-à-vis their relative consumption (i.e., how much they consume relative to other individuals). The research shows that, holding absolute consumption constant, the average individual prefers higher relative consumption (i.e., they have preferences for being relatively richer than others).

Sung-wan Kang, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Social Work, is the winner of the Seymour Sudman Dissertation Award. His advisor is Min Zhan and his dissertation— The Influence of Cognitive Impairment on Health Behaviors among Older Adults: The Moderating Role of Living Arrangements—seeks to understand the extent to which cognitive impairment in older adults influences their engagement in health behaviors and whether or not this relationship differs by living arrangements. Understanding how cognition of older adults influences the engagement in physical activity, smoking and drinking status, and use of preventive health services could provide important implications for health promotion and disease prevention for cognitively impaired older adults.

Joseph Yun, a Ph.D. candidate in the Illinois Informatics Institute received the Seymour Sudman Honorable Mention. His advisor is Brittany Duff and his dissertation is entitled Analyzing the Boundaries of Balance Theory in Evaluating Cause-Related Marketing Compatibility.

(Click recipient name to view abstract.)

2017 Robert Ferber Dissertation Award Recipient: Nicolas Bottan, Choosing Your Pond: Revealed-Preference Estimates of Relative Income Concerns.
Classical economists from Adam Smith to Arthur Pigou emphasized that individuals, in addition to caring about their absolute consumption levels, care about their relative consumption (i.e., how much they consume relative to other individuals). This paper provides a unique test of this hypothesis by studying the decisions of senior medical students participating in the National Residency Match Program (NRMP). They must choose between programs that offer similar nominal incomes, but in cities with different costs of living and income distributions. As a result, they face trade-offs between absolute consumption and relative consumption. We conducted a novel survey experiment with 1,100 NRMP participants. We elicited their perceptions about cost of living and income distribution in the cities that they are considering living in, as well as their rank order submissions for their two favorite programs. To assess the direction of causality, we embedded an information-provision experiment that generates exogenous variation in perceptions. We find that, holding absolute consumption constant, the average individual prefers higher relative consumption (i.e., they have preferences for being relatively richer than others). Moreover, we find substantial and meaningful heterogeneity in relative concerns by relationship status, where single individuals have the opposite preference.
2017 Seymour Sudman Dissertation Award Recipient: Sung-wan Kang, The Influence of Cognitive Impairment on Health Behaviors among Older Adults: The Moderating Role of Living Arrangements.
As the U.S. population rapidly ages, the volume of older adults projected to suffer from dementia, and the ensuing societal and economic burden, has sparked much research on the risk and protective factors for cognitive impairment. Evidence suggests that health behaviors, including regular physical activity, non-smoking, and moderate alcohol consumption, contribute to healthy cognitive function. Health behaviors are important for cognitively impaired older adults who are particularly susceptible to a variety of potentially preventable physical health conditions and long-term disabilities. Well-regarded guidelines from professional societies have also recommended healthy lifestyle behaviors for people already diagnosed with dementia. However, previous research has predominately studied cognitive impairment as an outcome. A question seldom addressed is the extent to which cognitive impairment in older adults influences their engagement in health behaviors by impacting abilities to perceive and recognize the potential benefits and regulate behaviors accordingly. This study aims to examine the impact of cognitive impairment on health behaviors in older adults and assess whether this relationship differs by living arrangements. This study will analyze data from 1995 through 2012 of the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative longitudinal survey of noninstitutionalized individuals over 50. Understanding how cognition of older adults influences the engagement in physical activity, smoking and drinking status, and use of preventive health services could provide important implications for health promotion and disease prevention for cognitively impaired older adults.
2017 Seymour Sudman Dissertation Award Honorable Mention Recipient: Joseph Yun, Analyzing the Boundaries of Balance Theory in Evaluating Cause-Related Marketing Compatibility.
In January 2016, The World Wildlife Fund entered into a partnership with Royal Caribbean to promote ocean conservation. This phenomenon of for-profit businesses partnering with not-for-profit organizations is commonly referred to as cause-related marketing (CRM). Some CRM partnerships may seem more unusual or less fitting than others, but the level of perceived fit has been shown to differ from consumer to consumer. We know a great deal about how perceptions of fit affect attitude and consumer behavior, but we know less about whether there are ways to predict a consumer’s perception of fit. This is important because perceived fit is a key factor in predicting acceptance of CRM partnerships. Therefore, in line with this gap in understanding, the purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the boundaries in which balance theory can be utilized to analyze CRM partnerships and predict consumer perceptions of CRM partnership fit. Within this investigation, I will marry theoretical understandings of balance theory and the difference between attitude and attitude strength to provide evidence that balance theory can “break” depending on various circumstances when analyzing CRM partnership fit. I will also investigate whether similarities between consumers and the brands and causes involved in partnerships can predict attitude strength, both via a traditional survey method and a novel machine-learned computational analysis of Twitter. The ability to predict potential CRM fit perceptions has practical value for both a brand as well as a cause, but since most causes have clearly associated stances on certain issues, these causes may have the most to lose in a CRM partnership that is perceived as not fitting.

 

Questions about the Ferber-Sudman Awards may be directed to Sharon Shavitt at shavitt@illinois.edu.

 

Past award winners and dissertation abstracts.

Robert Ferber (1922–1981) and Seymour Sudman (1928–2000) were eminent scholars in the field of survey research. It is in memory of their contributions both to the field and to their students that these awards have been endowed.

Robert Ferber

  • Robert FerberBob Ferber spent his entire academic career at the University of Illinois (1948–1981). He received a B.S. in Mathematics from the City College of New York in 1942 and an M.A. (1945) and Ph.D. (1951) in Economics and Statistics from the University of Chicago. Dr. Ferber was a Professor of Marketing, Research Professor of Economics and of Business Administration, and founding Director of the Survey Research Laboratory from 1964 to 1981.

    In addition to authoring numerous articles, monographs, and chapters in books, Dr. Ferber was the author or co-author of 17 books, including Statistical Techniques in Market Research (1949), Research Methods in Economics and Business (1962), Estudios Fundamentales de Mercadotecnia (1970), Consumer Panels (with Seymour Sudman, 1979), Consumption and Income Distribution in Latin America: Selected Topics (1980), and Social Experimentation and Economic Policy (1982).

    Always active in his field, Ferber was the Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association (1959–1963), Editor of the Journal of Marketing Research (1964–1969), President of the American Marketing Association (1969–1970), and Editor of the Journal of Consumer Research (1977–1981). He was survived by his wife Marianne A. Ferber and two children. Mrs. Ferber, herself a noted economist on the faculty of the University of Illinois, passed away in 2013.

    Bob Ferber used to joke that one of his greatest achievements was recruiting Seymour Sudman to the faculty of the University of Illinois in 1968.

Seymour Sudman

  • Seymour SudmanSeymour Sudman received his B.S. in Mathematics from Roosevelt University in 1949 and a Ph.D. in Business from the University of Chicago in 1962. From 1962 to 1968, he was a lecturer at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and the Director of Sampling and a Senior Study Director at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC).

    In 1968, Dr. Sudman joined the faculty of the University of Illinois and the staff of the Survey Research Laboratory. He was Professor of Business Administration and of Sociology and Research Professor and Deputy Director at SRL. In 1985, he was named the Walter H. Stellner Distinguished Professor of Marketing in the Department of Business Administration.

    Sudman was a fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1983 and President of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) in 1981–1982. In 1987, he was awarded the AAPOR Award for lifetime achievement, along with his longtime collaborator Norman Bradburn.

    The author of 19 books and hundreds of articles and presentations, Dr. Sudman is remembered for several major works, including Response Effects in Surveys (1974), Applied Sampling (1976), Asking Questions (1982), Thinking About Answers: The Cognitive Processes to Survey Methodology (1996), and Marketing Research (1998). He is survived by his wife Blanche, three children, and two grandchildren.