Davis Wins Dissertation Award from Southern Regional Education Board

By Christina Wilkerson

Marketing Ph.D. student Cassandra Davis has won a dissertation award from the Southern Regional Education Board for her research in negative identity.

The award will support Davis’ research during the 2015-16 year. Her research focuses on negative identity in marketing. “Identities are concepts or things about ourselves that we wish weren’t true, that society frowns upon,” Davis said.

“It could be that you are in a lot of debt, it could be your weight, it could be all kinds of things that one might consider negative, particularly things that you can control,” she said.

Davis’ dissertation studies a person’s weight as a negative identity and how that identity influences food product marketing. She looks at how the way people think about their weight or disengage from their weight “affects how they view food products and healthy food products and then how they feel about themselves,” she said.

For her research, Davis conducts quantitative experiments. She currently is writing up the results of a study that found that “people, particularly overweight consumers who disengage and are able to say that their weight is less self-important, will actually display higher levels of self-efficacy when it comes to dieting and exercise, and then generally how they feel about themselves,” Davis said.

It was for this line of research that Davis won her dissertation award, which will cover the cost of her tuition and fees as well as research expenses. The award includes a trip to the annual Compact for Faculty Diversity Institute on Teaching and Mentoring in Washington D.C. at the end of the month.

Despite a long and involved application process, Davis found a return. “It was a little tedious, but definitely worth it,” she said.

The award has freed Davis up to think about what she’s going to do for the rest of the year, she said.