Marketing Professor Wins Prestigious Research Grant

Yan Dengfeng
Sep 20 2019

NYU Shanghai Associate Professor of Marketing Yan Dengfeng has won a highly prestigious science research award, a grant from the Excellent Young Scientist Fund administered by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Yan was one of 600 scientists chosen from a field of more than 6,000 applicants from across China. The fund was established in 2012 to foster innovative research by young Chinese scientists. 

Yan, a native of Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, will be awarded 1.3 million RMB (US$184,798 as of the date the award winners were announced) to conduct interdisciplinary research into how consumers’ evaluation of numerical information affects their choice of products and services.

“I’m very honored and excited to have been selected to receive this award, especially since the application process is so intense,” said Yan. 

In addition to preparing an application dossier that included a complete overview of his previous publications and a finely tuned research proposal, Yan also presented his proposal to a panel of management science experts in Beijing. 

“The Q&A with the panel at the end of the presentation was very challenging – their questions came like bullets,” Yan said. “But their comments were very insightful and constructive, and the whole process has been a great experience for me as a researcher. I’m very grateful for all the support I received from the university community as I prepared my application, especially from the university’s Research Office and the Business program.”

“Dr. Yan’s receipt of this grant is a great recognition of his academic achievement,” said Chen Yuxin, Dean of Business and Distinguished Global Network Professor at NYU Shanghai. “Dr. Yan’s success exemplifies NYU Shanghai’s commitment to research excellence and our Business program’s ability to attract top scholars.”

Yan’s research will build upon his previous work at the intersection of psychology and marketing. In his new project, he will use a variety of methods to explore how numerical information about products and services interacts with psychological distance from an economic decision – whether that distance is created by time, geography, or by making a decision on someone else’s behalf – to drive consumers’ decision-making processes. 

“Most previous research on how psychological distance changes people’s information processing has focused on verbal information or visual information, but previous research also suggests that numerical information may be processed differently from verbal and visual information,” Yan explained.

“Finding out how numerical information processing affects decision-making can help individuals make better decisions, and it can also help companies design more effective marketing communications.”

Yan plans to work closely with collaborators from other institutes, including NYU Shanghai’s partner institution East China Normal University (ECNU). He then plans to take his results into the real marketplace, working with companies to design new marketing communications that test whether consumers making actual decisions respond in ways that reflect his lab findings. 

In Yan’s view, Shanghai’s unique position within China’s economy and the global economy make the city one of the most exciting and inspiring places to study business and marketing. “There are lots of new business ideas going on here – new companies, new brands, new advertising,” said Yan. “As a researcher, it offers amazing opportunities to test theories and see if they can be applied to influence real companies’ outcomes.”

“Students love to see what’s happening in the real world so that they can better prepare for their future jobs. Being here in Shanghai gives me far more opportunities to bring those real-world examples into the classroom."

Yan’s receipt of the Excellent Young Scientist Fund award rounds out a banner year. In 2019, he also received the title of Shuguang Scholar from the Shanghai Education Development Foundation and the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission. Yan was also one of only 35 scholars worldwide to receive the 2019 Young Scholar Award from the Marketing Science Institute.