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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

E-mail aalter@stern.nyu.edu
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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 explains how taking breaks from technology can boost well-being, from his book, "Irresistible"

Professor Adam Alter's book, "Irresistible," is referenced

Professor Adam Alter comments on the addictive design of social media platforms, from his book, "Irresistible"

Professor Adam Alter is interviewed about how streetwear brands are using scarcity and social media to drive demand

Professor Adam Alter discusses Apple CEO Tim Cook's comments on children's social media use, drawing from his book, "Irresistible"

"Irresistible," by Professor Adam Alter and "The Four," by Professor Scott Galloway are named to the Huffington Post “20 Best Business Books of 2017” list

Professor Adam Alter's book, "Irresistible," is featured in a column addressing backlash against the tech industry over smartphone addiction

Professor Adam Alter underscores brick-and-mortar retailers' advantages over online retailers

Professor Adam Alter's book, "Irresistible," is referenced

Professor Adam Alter's research on the effects of fluency (how easy a name or word is to pronounce) is referenced

Professor Adam Alter comments on our reliance on smartphones, from his book, "Irresistible"

Research on the addictive nature of social media from Professor Adam Alter's book, "Irresistible," is featured

Professor Adam Alter shares how using social media exclusively from a desktop can help reduce its addictive nature

Professor Adam Alter shares insights from his research on the impact of names on a person's success

Professor Adam Alter's TED Talk comments on the connection between mobile usage and happiness are featured

Professor Adam Alter's research on the impact of mobile device usage on happiness is featured, from his book, "Irresistible"

Professor Adam Alter's joint research on categorizing experiences is featured

Professor Adam Alter's joint research on stereotyping is featured

Higher Cognitive Abilities Linked to Greater Risk of Stereotyping

Professor Adam Alter's book, "Irresistible," is referenced

Areas of Expertise


  • Advertising
  • Consulting


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