Jennifer Aaker, General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business, is an American social psychologist and author. Best known for her research on time, money and happiness, Aaker also focuses on the transmission of ideas through social networks, the power of story in decision making, and how to build global brands across cultures. She is the recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award from the Society for Consumer Psychology and the Stanford Distinguished Teaching Award.
Early life and education
Aaker was born in Palo Alto, California, to Kay Aaker, and David Aaker, a professor and brand consultant. Aaker attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied under social psychologist Philip E. Tetlock and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1989. In 1990, Aaker began postgraduate work at Stanford Graduate School of Business, earning a Ph.D. in marketing with a minor in psychology in 1995. Her dissertation on brand personality led to the publication of three academic papers in Journal of Marketing Research and Journal of Consumer Research and won several awards.
Aaker began her academic career in 1995 as an assistant professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. In 1999, she returned to the Stanford Graduate School of Business as an assistant professor, was promoted to associate professor in 2001, and earned a full professorship in 2004. In 2005, Aaker was named General Atlantic Professor of Marketing. Her work has been published in scholarly journals in psychology and marketing and has been highlighted in The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, BusinessWeek, Forbes, NPR, CBS Money Watch, Inc. and Science. She serves as an advisory board member for several private companies.
As a social psychologist and marketer, Aaker began her research career by proposing a "Dimensions of Brand Personality" framework to describe and measure the "personality" of a brand, defined as the set of human characteristics associated with it. The five core dimensions are Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness. In a global analysis of brands, Aaker and her colleagues revealed two novel brand personality dimensions. In Japan, individuals viewed brands as Peaceful, and in Spain, individuals viewed brands as Passionate. Aaker’s model showed that brand personality dimensions influence consumer preference and choice and provided a framework that illuminated how to build strong global brands that meet multi-cultural needs.
In 2002, Aaker shifted her research focus to understanding time, money and happiness. In this work, she suggested that time is a resource that, like money, is not only important but more subjective than we think. In 2010, she published two papers with Sep Kamvar and Cassie Mogilner on the dynamic meaning of happiness. Prior research had suggested that the meaning of happiness is either similar across individuals, or highly subjective and idiosyncratic. Aaker and her colleagues show that the answer lies between the two and that there is in fact a predictable shift in the meaning of happiness and how it is experienced over one's life and even within the day or week. The research also showed that the meaning of happiness that one holds impacts the choices people make.
Aaker has also examined questions such as why people give to others, how small acts create significant change, and how those effects can be fueled by social media.
In 2010, Aaker and her husband, startup advisor Andy Smith, authored the book The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change. With a title inspired by the dragonfly’s unique ability to propel itself in any direction when its four wings worked in concert, the book examined the manner in which synchronized ideas can be used to create rapid transformations through social media. A literary award winner, The Dragonfly Effect has been translated into over 10 languages. In 2013, Aaker, Smith and McCarthy published The Power of Stories, a companion to The Dragonfly Effect, which further explored social media through psychological insight and provided a hands-on tool to help companies put the model to work.
In a real world demonstration of the Dragonfly Effect, Aaker and her students founded 100K Cheeks,. an organization dedicated to registering 100,000 South Asian donors in the National Bone Marrow Registry. In addition to utilizing social networks, Aaker ran the first ever cheek swab in India; as a result of these efforts, 100K Cheeks exceeded their goal by registering more than 115,000 potential donors. "Social media is not inherently meaningful," Aaker said in an interview on the subject. "Yet the power of social technology, when fully engaged, can be nothing short of revolutionary."
- The Power of Stories. With Andy Smith and Barbara McCarthy. April, 2013. Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing ISBN 978-1-4841-8438-7
- The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change. With Andy Smith. September, 2010. Publisher: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 978-0-470-61415-0
- Keep Calm, Play Hard. With Cooper Smith. 2013. New York City.
- Tea Sloane's Adventure: A Sparkly Tale of Whimsy and Meaning Found in NYC. With Tea Sloane Smith. 2013. New York City.
- Devon Made It: One Boy's Journey in NYC. With Devon Smith. 2013. New York City.
- Key Differences between a Happy Life and a Meaningful Life (2013), Baumeister, Vohs, Aaker, Garbinsky
- How Happiness Impacts Choice (2012), Mogilner, Aaker and Kamvar, JCR
- Awe Expands People's Perception of Time and Enhances Well-Being (2012), Rudd, Vohs, and Aaker, Psychological Science.
- If Money Doesn't Make You Happy, Consider Time (2011), Aaker, Rudd, and Mogilner, JCP
- The Shifting Meaning of Happiness (2010) Mogilner, Kamvar and Aaker, SPPS
- Non-Profits Are Seen as Warm and For-Profits as Competent (2010), Aaker, Vohs and Mogilner, JCR
- The Time versus Money Effect (2009), Mogilner and Aaker, JCR
- The Happiness of Giving: The Time-Ask Effect (2008), Liu and Aaker, JCR
- When Good Brands Do Bad (2004), Aaker, Fournier, and Brasel, JCR
- Can Mixed Emotions Peacefully Co-Exist? (2002), Williams and Aaker, JCR
- Consumption Symbols as Carriers of Culture (2001), Aaker, Benet-Martínez, and Garolera, JPSP
- Dimensions of Brand Personality (1997), Aaker, JMR
Honors and awards
- Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, Society for Consumer Psychology, 2014
- Robert K. Jaedicke Silver Apple Award, Stanford, 2011
- Early Career Award for Outstanding Research, Society for Consumer Psychology, 2003
- Distinguished Teaching Award, Stanford, 2000
- Citibank Best Teacher Award, UCLA, 1999
- George Robbins Best Teacher Award, UCLA, 1998
- Design thinking
- Customer engagement
- Jennifer Aaker at Stanford Graduate School of Business
- Building Innovative Brands
- The Power of Story
- Designing (for) Happiness
- The Dragonfly Effect
- Cook, Nancy. "The Corporate Pursuit of Happiness". March, 2011. Fast Company. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- "The Brainiacs: Most Influential Women In Technology". 2011. Fast Company. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
- "Faculty Profile: Jennifer Aaker". Stanford Graduate School of Business. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
- "Jennifer Aaker: Psychology Today". 2014. Psychology Today. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
- Wake, Jennifer. "The Gift of Time: Skilled Volunteers Found in Local Retirees" (PDF). April 15, 2009. La Morinda Weekly. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- "David A. Aaker, Author Profile". Simon and Schuster. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- "Honors and Recognition" (PDF). 2013. Stanford University. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
- "Aaker CV at Stanford Graduate School of Business" (PDF). January, 2013. Stanford University.
- Aaker, Jennifer (August 1997). "Dimensions of Brand Personality" (PDF). Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- "The Dragonfly Effect". 2013. Official Website. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- David, Avril. "Names You Need to Know". May 17, 2011. Forbes. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- "The Power of Stores". Amazon. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- "Past Challenges (Get Involved)". Haas Center for Public Service. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
- "Jennifer Aaker: Pursuit of Happiness". November 27, 2011. Ink Talks. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- Beth Kanter Katie Delahaye Paine, Katie Delahaye Paine (2012). Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World. New York: Wiley. ISBN 978-1-118-13760-4.
- "The Dragonfly Effect". October 2011. Stanford Social Innovation Review. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- Staff Writer. "100k Cheeks and Blood Center to Host Marrow Drive". February 1, 2011. Stanford Daily. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- Aaker, Jennifer Lynn; Smith, Andy (2010). The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change (book). Carlye Adler. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 9780470614150. OCLC 460061966.
- "SCP Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award". American Psychological Association. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
- "Robert K. Jaedicke Silver Apple Award recipients". [Stanford Graduate School of Business]]. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
- "Honorees". Society for Consumer Psychology. Retrieved May 9, 2015.