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Adam Alter

Adam Alter

Joined Stern 2009

Leonard N. Stern School of Business
Tisch Hall
40 West Fourth Street, 811
New York, NY 10012

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Adam Alter is an Associate Professor of Marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, with an affiliated appointment in the New York University Psychology Department.

Adam’s academic research focuses on judgment and decision-making and social psychology, with a particular interest in the sometimes surprising effects of subtle cues in the environment on human cognition and behavior. His research has been published widely in academic journals, and featured in dozens of TV, radio and print outlets around the world.

He received his Bachelor of Science (Honors Class 1, University Medal) in Psychology from the University of New South Wales and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton University, where he held the Charlotte Elizabeth Procter Honorific Dissertation Fellowship and a Fellowship in the Woodrow Wilson Society of Scholars.

Adam is the New York Times bestselling author of two books: Irresistible (March, 2017), which considers why so many people today are addicted to so many behaviors, from incessant smart phone and internet use to video game playing and online shopping, and Drunk Tank Pink (2013), which investigates how hidden forces in the world around us shape our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

He has also written for the New York Times, New Yorker, Washington Post, Atlantic, WIRED, Slate, Huffington Post, and Popular Science, among other publications. He has shared his ideas on NPR's Fresh Air, at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, and with dozens of companies, including Google, Microsoft, Anheuser Busch, Prudential, and Fidelity, and with several design and ad agencies around the world.

Research Interests

  • Judgment and decision-making
  • Social psychology
  • Consumer behavior
  • Cultural psychology
  • Fluency and metacognition

Courses Taught

  • Behavioral Applications in Marketing (Ph.D. Seminar)

Academic Background

Ph.D., Psychology, 2009
Princeton University

M.A., Psychology, 2006
Princeton University

B.S., Psychology, 2004
University of New South Wales

Awards & Appointments

Society of Judgment and Decision Making Runner Up, Hillel Einhorn Young Investigator Award 2010

Selected Publications

Alter, A. L. (2013)
The benefits of cognitive disfluency.
Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 437-442.

Sussman, A. B., & Alter, A. L. (2012)
The exception is the rule: Underestimating and overspending on exceptional expenses.
Journal of Consumer Research, 39, 800-814.

Sharma, E., & Alter, A. L. (2012)
Financial deprivation prompts consumers to seek scarce goods.
Journal of Consumer Research, 39, 545-560.

Alter, A. L., Oppenheimer, D. M., & Zemla, J. C. (2010)
Missing the trees for the forest: A construal level theory account of the Illusion of Explanatory Depth.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 436-451.

Alter, A. L., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2009)
Suppressing secrecy through metacognitive ease: Cognitive fluency encourages self-disclosure.
Psychological Science, 20, 1414-1420.

Alter, A. L., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2009)
Uniting the tribes of fluency to form a metacognitive nation.
Personality and Social Psychology Review, 13, 219-235.

Alter, A. L. & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2008)
Effects of fluency on psychological distance and mental construal (or why New York is a large city, but New York is a civilized jungle).
Psychological Science, 19, 161-167.

Alter, A. L., Oppenheimer, D. M., Epley, N, & Eyre, R. N. (2007)
Overcoming intuition: Metacognitive difficulty activates analytic reasoning.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136, 569-576.

Alter, A. L., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2006)
Predicting short-term stock fluctuations by using processing fluency.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103, 9369-9372.

Contact Adam Alter for additional papers:

Related News & Research

Professor Adam Alter shares tips to combat email addiction, from his book, "Irresistible"

Professor Adam Alter's book "Irresistible," is referenced in a story on technology-related stress

Professor Adam Alter is quoted in a feature story on new devices designed to reduce tech use

Professor Adam Alter shares how the design of social media platforms encourages excessive use, from his book, "Irresistible"

Professor Adam Alter is interviewed for a story on tech companies' efforts to address tech addiction

Professor Adam Alter's book, "Irresistible," is referenced in a feature story on the benefits of using an old-fashioned alarm clock

Professor Adam Alter explains why many brands are publishing their own print magazines to connect with customers and establish a brand identity

Professor Adam Alter offers perspective on the intrusive power of technology in today's society

Professor Adam Alter's comments on the gamification elements used in dating apps in the HBO documentary, "Swiped," are featured

Professor Adam Alter explains the impact that a person's name can have on his or her success in life, drawing from his research

Professor Adam Alter explains why data from fitness trackers is valuable to marketers

Professor Adam Alter shares tips for parents to help children establish a balanced relationship with technology, from his book, "Irresistible"

Professor Adam Alter is interviewed for a trend story on mitigating addictive technology, from his book, "Irresistible"

Insights from Professor Adam Alter's book, "Irresistible" are featured

Professor Adam Alter shares insights on how the regulation of tech companies might evolve

Professor Adam Alter shares insights on the impact of email usage on work productivity

In an in-depth interview, Professor Adam Alter is featured in a cover story on addictive technology; insights from his book, "Irresistible" are also highlighted

Professor Adam Alter shares insights on how programmers design addictive digital feedback loops, from his book, "Irresistible"

Professor Adam Alter is interviewed about methods to reduce smartphone use, from his book, "Irresistible"

Professor Adam Alter explains how taking breaks from technology can boost well-being, from his book, "Irresistible"

Areas of Expertise


  • Advertising
  • Consulting


  • Advertising/Marketing/PR Strategies
  • Consumer Psychology/Behavior
  • Digital Marketing/Advertising
  • Market Research
  • New Product Development
  • Pricing
  • Promotions