Jacqueline R. Rifkin

Jacqueline Rifkin
Starting 7/1/22

Assistant Professor of Marketing
SC Johnson College of Business
Cornell University


I am interested in understanding how consumers manage their resources— their time, money, and experiences—and the impact this has on consumer well-being. I focus both on the consequences of managing one’s own resources, as well as observing how others manage their resources.

I received my PhD in Marketing from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in Spring 2020. Prior to graduate school, I received a BA in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and worked in both the marketing and market research industries.

At UMKC, I taught Marketing Management in the PMBA Program, and I will be teaching Consumer Behavior at Cornell University in Spring 2023.

UMKC Faculty Page


  • Consumer Resources (time, money, energy)
  • Consumer Well-Being
  • Experiential Consumption
  • Consumer Self-Expression


View CV


Click on title to read abstract

The meaning of places is socially constructed, often informed by the groups that seem pervasive there. For instance, University of Pennsylvania is sometimes called “Jew-niversity of Pennsylvania,” and the city of Decatur, Georgia is disparagingly nicknamed “Dyke-atur,” connoting the respective pervasiveness of Jewish students and gay residents. Since these pervasiveness perceptions meaningfully impact how people navigate the social world, it is critical to understand the factors that influence their formation. Across surveys, experiments, and archival data, six studies reveal the role of symbolic threat (i.e., perceived differences in values and worldviews). Specifically, holding constant important features of the group and context, we demonstrate that groups higher in symbolic threat are perceived as more populous in a place and more associated with that place than groups lower in symbolic threat. Ultimately, this work reveals that symbolic threat can both distort how people understand their surroundings and shape the meaning of places.

Although an overabundance of possessions—called “clutter”—is both pervasive and maladaptive, understanding how possessions can accumulate remains understudied. In the present research, we suggest that our prior interactions with possessions—namely, a prior decision to forgo consumption—can reduce future usage intentions. Six studies demonstrate that forgoing using an item can make it seem more special, particularly when forgoing is attributed to waiting for a later occasion. As specialness increases, the item is restricted from future usage: it becomes less likely to be used in ordinary occasions and more likely to be reserved for a narrower set of extraordinary occasions. By transforming ordinary items into (perceived) treasures, we suggest that nonconsumption can encourage consumers to retain possessions indefinitely, waiting for future usage occasions that may never arise—ultimately, fueling the accumulation of clutter. These findings extend work on nonconsumption and special possessions and illuminate a novel driver of clutter.

Prior approaches that leverage identity to motivate prosocial behavior are often limited to the set of people who already strongly identify with an organization (e.g., prior donors) or by the costs and challenges associated with developing stronger organization- linked identities among a broader audience (e.g., encouraging more people to care). In contrast, this research demonstrates that small prosocial gifts, such as tips or small donations, can be encouraged by framing the act of giving as an opportunity to express identity-relevant preferences—even if such preferences are not explicitly related to prosociality or the organization in need. Rather than simply asking people to give, the “dueling preferences” approach investigated in this research frames the act of giving as a choice between two options (e.g., cats vs. dogs, chocolate vs. vanilla ice cream). Dueling preferences increases prosocial giving by providing potential givers with a greater opportunity for self-expression—an intrinsically desirable opportunity. Seven experiments conducted in the laboratory, online, and in the field support this theorized process while casting doubt on relevant alternatives. This research contributes to work on self-expression and identity and sheds light on how organizations can encourage prosocial behavior.

From dating profiles and social media accounts to online streaming services, consumers are often asked to express who they are by constructing an assortment. Apple Music, for example, asks new users to indicate “two or more” of their favorite types of music when they create an account. But while consumers might create such self-expressive assortments to communicate who they are, could the composition of these assortments also affect how people see themselves? Seven studies demonstrate that perceiving greater variety in a self-expressive assortment undermines self-continuity. This occurs because variety leads consumers to infer that their preferences are less stable, thereby decreasing the belief that their identity stays the same over time. Variety’s effect generalizes across multiple domains of self-expression (e.g., books, music, television) and has downstream consequences for service evaluation and even unrelated decision-making (e.g., intertemporal tradeoffs). The findings advance understanding of how choice shapes identity, the role of variety in consumers’ lives, and factors that affect self-continuity. The results also have implications for the marketers who encourage (and the consumers who construct) self-expressive assortments.

Select Research In Progress

“First Impression or Frequent Flyer? The Persuasive Effect of Customer Tenure Claims in Online Word of Mouth”

While past research has explored numerous features of online word of mouth (WOM) that can impact persuasiveness, one unexplored aspect is “customer tenure claims”— i.e., explicit references to how long one has been a customer of the focal offering. A restaurant review, for instance, may mention that it was the reviewer’s first time there, or that they have dined there for years. Five studies, including a dataset of over 8 million Yelp reviews across multiple business domains, controlled lab experiments, and a consequential choice, test whether customer tenure claims impact persuasion in online word of mouth, and if so, how.

“No Bandwidth to Self-Gift: How Feeling Constrained Discourages Self-Gifting”

From time famine, to stretched bank accounts, to supply chain shortages, consumers are feeling more constrained than ever before. One solution for this comes in the form of “seft-gifting,” or consuming with the intention of increasing one’s own emotional well-being. This research explores whether and why consumers engage in self-gifting as well as the obstacles that may stand in their way.

“The Preference for Spontaneity in Consumer Experiences”

Whether watching television, attending a sports game, or hearing a band’s musical performance, consumers are increasingly pursuing experiences that are “produced” by one or more individuals. And while producers may aspire to fully plan consumer experiences, this is not always feasible, and consumers often witness producers acting spontaneously. The current research explores how consumers value, understand, and appreciate experiences based upon their perceived spontaneity.

“'The Same Thing Happened to Me!': Exploring Divergent Outcomes of Experience Ubiquity”

Brands often send customers small rewards, gifts, and other pleasant experiences in their customer relationship management efforts. Importantly, consumers often talk to each other, both offline and online, comparing notes about their experiences. Despite this, scant research has explored the implications of consumers comparing notes with each other about their brand-related experiences. This research explores the divergent outcomes of finding out that one’s experience receiving a small gift was “ubiquitous,” or highly common among other users.

“FOMO: How the Fear of Missing Out Leads to Missing Out”

People often interrupt ongoing experiences, such as dining at a restaurant or vacationing, to check for social media updates about missed experiences. Could accessing others’ experiences come at the expense of enjoying one’s own current experience? Six studies in the laboratory and field examine the “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO) phenomenon and its effect on enjoyment of ongoing experiences.

“When Keeping Up Feels Like Missing Out: Social Media-Induced FOMO Increases Consumers’ Engagement Intentions”

Social media is a powerful and ubiquitous tool for brands to connect with consumers. Indeed, brands often use social media to share merchandising updates and photos of recent events with brand-community members. The present research examines how these brand-generated social media posts impact consumers emotionally, and in turn, their intentions to engage with the brand in the future.

“Penny for Your Preferences: Leveraging Self-Expression to Encourage Small Prosocial Gifts”
“How Nonconsumption Can Turn Ordinary Items into Perceived Treasures”
“FOMO: How the Fear of Missing Out Leads to Missing Out”
“Variety in Self-Expression Undermines Self-Continuity”