Researching the Researchers:
Getting to know the doctoral candidates of the Geneva School of Economics and Management. Today, GSEM Ph.D. student Ursa Bernardic from the Institute of Management tells us more about her research.
Full name and Nationality?
My name is Ursa Bernardic, and I am Slovene.
I have a BSc in Biopsychology and MSc in Brain and Cognitive Science from the University of Amsterdam. Before joining the GSEM, I was a visiting researcher at the MIT Sloan Neuroeconomics Lab.
Program and Specialization?
I am in the final stage of my Ph.D. in Management: "The role of familiarity, complexity, and temporal normalization on decision making".
My thesis advisors are Prof. Giuseppe Ugazio and Prof. Benjamin Scheibehenne.
Why did you choose to study for your Ph.D. at the GSEM?
I chose the GSEM to do my Ph.D. because of its interdisciplinary groups (Cognition and Consumer Behavior Lab and Behavioral Philanthropy Lab); because of my ties to Switzerland (my partner is Swiss), and because I really like skiing and hiking in the Swiss mountains.
What is your Ph.D. about, and why did you choose your research topic?
In my Ph.D. I try to connect theories from marketing, cognitive science, and neuroeconomics to provide useful applications and new hints about how limited attention adaptively filters information. Understanding whether, when, and in which way such strategies influence human attention and decision-making is the main focus of my dissertation. For example one of my projects investigated how familiarity affects attention and brands recognition: we found that familiar brands are found faster than unfamiliar ones. Based on visual attention we developed two objective measures (built on recent developments in cognitive science and image processing) for measuring brand familiarity, which can be used by both, marketing researchers and marketers. In other projects, we try to address how temporal normalization impacts value-based decision making, how different taxation subsidies (rebate and match) impact charitable decision making, and how inequalities perception influences redistribution preferences.
What is innovative about your research?
In all my projects, I try to combine knowledge and bridge theories from different disciplines to provide applicable solutions. I like to develop new findings with experimental data and develop new methods. Last, but not least I am a big fan of open science: sharing my preregistration plans, experiments, and anonymous data on Open Science Framework.
What is one thing that you have enjoyed the most during your Ph.D.? What is, or has been, the most challenging part?
During my Ph.D. I have enjoyed working on my diverse interdisciplinary projects: from designing, to programing experiments and analyzing data as well as presenting my projects at many international conferences and sharing findings with companies and practitioners. I also enjoyed teaching students and supervising their master theses. I think the most challenging part is to maintain a healthy work-life balance and good time management since I enjoy working on all of my projects.
Do you have any advice for someone considering a Ph.D.?
I would advise you to get to know your group/supervisor well before you decide on your Ph.D. I was extremely lucky to be surrounded by the great and kind minds of my colleagues in our group (big thanks to Antonia, Benjamin, Cecilia, Carlos, Giuseppe, Lucia, Marco, Nina, Sami, Yvonne), but from what I heard from others, this is not always the case. I think as academics we move a lot and finding a country that you like is also advisable. While it can sometimes be a lonely trip, I think the academic world is otherwise awesome: it gives you great flexibility to work on important research questions, and it’s diverse and challenging.
August 13, 2021
Tell us something fun about yourself.
I grew up on a horse farm!