Skip to main content

Amit Kumar

Assistant Professor

Department:     Marketing

Industry Areas:     Consumer Behavior

Research Areas:     Affect and Decision Making, Consumer Behavior, Hedonic and Utilitarian Consumption, Judgment and Decision Making

Amit Kumar

Amit Kumar is an assistant professor of marketing and psychology at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. An award-winning researcher whose work has gained national and international attention, Kumar studies happiness in a variety of practical contexts. He also teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the science of good business.

Kumar’s research on well-being has been published in the industry’s top journals and featured in dozens of media outlets, including The New York Times, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Time magazine and The Washington Post. Through rigorous experimentation, he has discovered that consumers derive greater benefits from experiential rather than material spending, and that prosocial behavior is more impactful than people expect.

Prior to joining Texas McCombs, Kumar completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He received a Ph.D. in social and personality psychology from Cornell University and an A.B. in psychology (with highest honors) and economics from Harvard University.



Professional Awards

Research Reboot Award, University of Texas at Austin, Provost Office.


University of Texas at Austin McCombs Research Excellence Grant


Marketing Science Institute Young Scholar


University of Texas at Austin McCombs Research Excellence Grant


University of Chicago Center for Decision Research Independent Research Grant


Cornell Psychology Department Small Research Grant

Amit Kumar, Thomas C. Mann, and Thomas Gilovich. Apr 2024.
The Aptly Buried “I” in Experience: Experimental Purchases Promote More Social Connection than Material Purchases. 
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 37(2): 1-13.

Michael Kardas, Amit Kumar, and Nicholas Epley.
Let it Go: How Exaggerating the Reputational Costs of Revealing Negative Information Encourages Secrecy in Relationships.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  Forthcoming.

Amit Kumar. April 2023. Kindness Goes Farther Than You Think. Scientific American 328(4):72.

N. Epley, A. Kumar, J. Dungan, and M. Echelbarger. (In press). A Prosociality Paradox: How Miscalibrated Social Cognition Creates a Misplaced Barrier to Prosocial Action. Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Amit Kumar, and Nicholas Epley. Jan 2023. Understanding Undersociality: Intentions, Impressions, and Interactions. Journal of Consumer Psychology 33(1): 221-225.

Amit Kumar, and Nicholas Epley. Jan 2023. Undersociality is Unwise. Journal of Consumer Psychology 33(1): 199-212.

Amit Kumar, and Nicholas Epley. 2023. A Little Good Goes an Unexpectedly Long Way: Underestimating the Positive Impact of Kindness on Recipients. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 152(1): 236-252.

Micheal Kardas, Amit Kumar, and Nicholas Epley. 2022. Overly Shallow: Miscalibrated Expectations Create a Barrier to Deeper Conversation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 122(3), 367-398.


Amit Kumar. 2022. Some Things Aren't Better Left Unsaid: Interpersonal Barriers to Gratitude Expression and Prosocial Engagement. Current Opinion in Psychology 43, 156-160. 

Amit Kumar and Nicholas Epley. 2021. It's Surprisingly Nice to Hear You: Misunderstanding the Impact of Communication Media Can Lead to Suboptimal Choices of How to Connect with Others. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 150(3), 595-607.


Amit Kumar and Nicholas Epley. 2020. Research: Type Less, Talk More. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles Oct. 5.


Amit Kumar, Matthew A. Killingsworth, and Thomas Gilovich. 2020. Spending on Doing Promotes More Moment-to-Moment Happiness Than Spending on Having. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 88, 103971.


Nicholas Epley and Amit Kumar. 2019. How to Design an Ethical Organization. Harvard Business Review 97(3), 144-150.


Amit Kumar and N. Epley. 2018. Undervaluing Gratitude: Expressers Misunderstand the Consequences of Showing Appreciation. Psychological Science 29(9), 1423-1435.


J. Walker, Amit Kumar, and T. Gilovich. 2016. Cultivating Gratitude and Giving Through Experiential Consumption. Emotion 16(8), 1126-1136.


Amit Kumar and T. Gilovich. 2016. To Do or To Have, Now or Later? The Preferred Consumption Profiles of Material and Experiential Purchases. Journal of Consumer Psychology 26(@), 169-178.


T. Gilovich, Amit Kumar, and L. Jampol. 2015. A Wonderful Life: Experiential Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness. Journal of Consumer Psychology 25(1), 152-165.


Amit Kumar and T. Gilovich. 2015. Some "Thing" to Talk About? Differential Story Utility from Experiential and Material Purchases. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 41(1), 1320-1331.


T. Gilovich, Amit Kumar, and L. Jampol. 2015. The Beach, The Bikini, and the Best Buy: Replies to Dunn and Weidman, and to Schmitt, Brakus, and Zarantonello. Journal of Consumer Psychology 25(1), 179-184.


T. Gilovich and Amit Kumar. 2015. We'll Always Have Paris: The Hedonic Payoff from Experiential and Material Investments, in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 51, M. Zanna and J. Olson, eds. New York, NY: Elsevier, 147-187.


Amit Kumar, M. A. Killingsworth, and T. Gilovich. 2014. Waiting for Merlot: Anticipatory Consumption of Experiential and Material Purchases. Psychological Science 25(10), 1924-1931.