Elanor Williams

Associate Professor of Marketing

Elanor Williams

Elanor Williams

Elanor Williams joined the Marketing Area at the Olin Business School in the fall of 2019. She received her PhD in social psychology at Cornell University, where she developed her interests in social judgment and decision making. In several streams of research, she investigates the causes and consequences of mental gaps for consumers and marketers, including the distance between ourselves and other people; between the past, present, and future; and between expectations and reality.

Area of Expertise

Consumer Behavior and Decision Making


  • Ph D 2008, Cornell University
  • BA 2001, Yale University

Research Interests

I study the social consumer. Consumer decisions are often interactive and are becoming ever more social in nature—for example, people can learn about new products, review and share experiences, and get feedback from others in ways that were unimaginable even 10 years ago. My research examines how consumers make decisions on behalf of and with the help of other people. I also investigate how consumers come to know themselves and others, and how that knowledge (or lack thereof) influences the choices they make. In my work, I strive to unravel how consumers’ choices, struggles, and triumphs are influenced by the company that they keep.

Selected Publications

  • "Delegating Decisions: Recruiting Others to Make Difficult Choices", Journal of Consumer Research, Issue 5, 1015-1032, with Mary Steffel, 2018
  • "Why Gifts Are Great When You Get Them, But Not Once You've Got Them: A Framework for Understanding Errors in Gift Giving", Current Directions in Psychological Science, Issue 6, 380-385, with Jeff Galak, Julian Givi, 2016
  • "Ethically Deployed Defaults: Transparency and Consumer Protection Via Disclosure and Preference Articulation", Journal of Marketing Research, Issue 5, 865-880, with Mary Steffel, Ruth Pogacar, 2016
  • "The Valjean Effect: Visceral States and Cheating", Emotion, Issue 6, 897-902, with David Pizarro, Dan Ariely, James Weinberg, 2016
  • "Passing the Buck: Delegating Choices to Others to Avoid Responsibility and Blame", Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Issue 1, 32-44, with Mary Steffel, Jaclyn Perrmann-Graham, 2016
  • "Double Standards in the Use of Enhancing Products by Self and Others", Journal of Consumer Research, Issue 2, 506-525, with Mary Stefflel, 2014
  • "The Hobgoblin of Consistency: Algorithmic Judgment Strategies Underlie Inflated Self-Assessments of Performance", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Issue 6, 976-994, with David Dunning, Justin Kruger, 2013
  • "Pleasure Principles: Current Research on Hedonic Consumption", Journal of Consumer Psychology, Issue 1, 2-18, with Joseph Alba, 2013
  • "The Better-Than-My-Average Effect: The Relative Impact of Peak and Typical Performances in Assessments of the Self and Others", Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Issue 2, 556-561, with Thomas Gilovich, 2012
  • "In Goal Pursuit, I Think Flexibility is the Best Choice for Me, But Not for You ", Journal of Marketing Research, Issue 5, 1008-1026, with Sydney Scott, 2023