Muhammad Ammad AminEvan’s journey to becoming an academic is somewhat unique. While interning at a very prestigious bank as an undergrad he realized he wanted to explore all possible career paths before committing to a career in the corporate world. He had taken a class in creativity and already worked with his professor on some research which really appealed to him. After carefully weighing his options he decided to apply to graduate schools where faculty was researching creativity in groups. He ended up in Cornell University with an advisor who was a perfect fit for his research interests.  

Like any curious graduate student Evan saw his research interests evolve as he progressed through his program at Cornell University. He realized he is most interested in the science of decision-making and has successfully published many articles in the area especially focused on how people make decisions for other people. Making choices for other people follows a different framework than making choices for oneself.

Professor Evan Polman

One of his favorite research papers showcases that people are a lot more creative in making decisions for other people than they are when making decisions for themselves. Taking what color to paint your living room as an example, people find such a decision to be stressful and even annoying when they are deciding for their own living room. In contrast people tend to be a lot more excited and creative when they are making this decision for a friend’s living room. There are several possible explanations for this phenomenon, people tend to feel a sense of pride and status affirmation when someone asks them to help with a decision. In relation to that it helps people identify where they stand in the inner circle of the person asking for help. Lastly this phenomenon could be driven by the satisfaction people subconsciously feel when they realize others have problems too, it’s not just them.

Aside from his research, Evan feels very fortunate to be in Madison working at the Wisconsin School of Business. He has found Madison to be a very fun and unique city which has lots to offer to people with varying interests. Evan also feels very fortunate and humbled that he gets to work with some of the best-known thought leaders in Marketing as his colleagues. His students are what excite him the most in his role here at the Wisconsin School of Business. He is envious of how amazingly talented his students are at such a young age but takes great pride in seeing them acquire prestigious roles in organizations across the globe and blossom into successful business persons.

Learn more about Evan and his research