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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 a 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

Research from Professor Adam Alter examining how children use technology is cited

Key takeaways on technology addiction from Professor Adam Alter's book, "Irresistible," are highlighted

Professor Adam Alter shares advice on how to reduce screen time during the coronavirus pandemic

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

Professor Adam Alter's co-authored research on consumers underestimating and overspending on exceptional purchases is spotlighted

Insights from Professor Adam Alter's book, "Irresistible," are spotlighted in an article exploring targetless scrolling on social media

Professor Adam Alter shares his perspective on what a "new normal" might look like in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

Professor Adam Alter's comments on how checking work emails can change an individual's level of productivity are cited

Professor Adam Alter provides insight into why people spend more time than normal on social media during a pandemic

Professor Adam Alter is quoted in a story examining why people engage in "panic buying" in the face of crises

Professor Adam Alter notes that scarcity is a powerful driver of consumption

Professor Adam Alter explains why McDonald's is able to successfully market its Shamrock Shake by utilizing nostalgia

Joint research from Professor Adam Alter on the name-pronunciation effect is highlighted in a story exploring how Pete Buttigieg's name may impact his candidacy

Professor Adam Alter's book, "Irresistible," is mentioned in an article exploring how people can reclaim their personal time

Key takeaways from Professor Adam Alter's book, "Irresistible," are spotlighted

Professor Adam Alter shares tips to boost productivity in the new year; his book, "Irresistible," is mentioned

Professor Adam Alter offers tips on how to break away from technological devices

Professor Adam Alter's comments on the humanization of brands are cited

Professor Adam Alter's comments on the humanization of brands are included in an article on how food companies have embraced social media

Professor Adam Alter explains how advertisers use scarcity and exclusivity to market their products

Areas of Expertise


  • Advertising
  • Consulting


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