Challenging Assumptions About Health and Wealth Choices

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If you ask Professor Punam Anand Keller, who teaches social marketing at the Tuck School of Business and strategic health marketing in the Master of Health Care Delivery Science program, to describe her work, she has a simple answer.

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Punam Anand Keller, the Charles Henry Jones Third Century Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business, delivers the 25th Presidential Faculty Lecture on Monday, February 25, at 5 p.m. in 105 Dartmouth Hall. (Photo by Jack Rowell)

“I sweat the small stuff,” she says.

Keller, the Charles Henry Jones Third Century Professor of Management at Tuck, delivers the 25th Presidential Faculty Lecture on Monday, February 25, at 5 p.m. in 105 Dartmouth Hall.

Her lecture, “Building Theory by Breaking Boundaries: Health and Wealth Choice-Making,” explains how social marketing in efforts such as employee wellness programs or retirement benefit enrollment can reduce functional helplessness and help people make active positive choices.

Keller says she “sweats the small stuff” because she knows that the “very big stuff—like changing human behavior and improving the well-being of millions of people—begins there.”

She begins by challenging basic assumptions, all related to the ingrained belief that choice reflects preference. This assumption, she says, is the basis of economic theory of consumer markets.

“The emerging literature on constructive preferences calls many of these beliefs into question. Rather than believe that preferences exist, preferences may be constructed on the spot by the decision maker within the task and the context of the decision task,” she says.

Keller says she is grateful to President Carol L. Folt, Tuck Dean Paul Danos and the selection committee for offering her the opportunity to present the 25th Presidential Lecture. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in Rauner Library.

The Presidential Lecture Series was established in 1987 by then-President James O. Freedman, and honors the contributions of outstanding members of the Dartmouth faculty.