From right: Ismail Karabas, Brandon Gustafson, Scott Connors, T.J. Weber

Meet Scott Connors

Scott Connors, marketing doctoral candidate, has been branded with success over the past year. His graduate research productivity is above and beyond the norm, an accomplishment that earned him the 2017 Carson College Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award.

In four years, he was the lead author on papers published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology (available in 2018), Journal of Business Ethics, and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and has another paper in review at the Journal of Consumer Research an A-level journal in marketing. Additionally, he gave three research presentations at the Association for Consumer Research conference, two at the Society for Consumer Psychology, and one at the Association for Psychological Science.

Fellow Ph.D. students and faculty alike give him the highest compliments.

“Scott has helped nearly every Ph.D. student in marketing with research, from theory design to study design and data analysis,” says Andrew Perkins, Carson College associate professor of marketing.

“There is no grad student—not one—in the Carson College of Business, who does research at Scott’s level,” says TJ Weber, recent Ph.D. graduate and assistant professor of marketing, California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo. “Over his career, Scott will be one of the best researchers to ever come out of this University.”

Why WSU?

Connors says he chose WSU for two reasons. He began his doctoral program working with Perkins at Ivey Business School at the Western University in Canada, and decided to follow Perkins to WSU. Additionally, he says the Carson College was a good fit for his research, career goals, and personality.

“The Carson College was an easy transition for me because of the faculty’s strong connections and success in the marketing field, professional networking opportunities, and accommodating approach toward students,” he says. “I’ve been set up well to handle any challenge.”

Facing challenges of the Ph.D. program

Connors says the Ph.D. program in general poses the greatest challenge. He teaches classes in the summer and manages the Center for Behavioral Business Research 20 hours a week in addition to his teaching and research. His dissertation focuses on the psychology behind consumers’ interaction with brands, particularly how consumers’ self-concept influences their brand associations and purchasing behavior, and how consumers engage in unethical actions to punish brands they perceive as harmful.

Other challenges Connors and other Carson Ph.D. students face is the rigorous pace of the job market for assistant professor positions. For example, at the American Marketing Association conference in August, Connors interviewed with a total of 25 different business schools, participating in as many as nine interviews per day. Campus visits are fun but even more demanding, he says, because of the traveling time and all day meetings at the host institution that start at breakfast and often run late into the evening.

Based on his experiences, Connors recommends incoming Ph.D. students keep motivated and productive by going to conferences, building networks with people who have similar research interests, and establishing some kind of personal measures. He keeps a running list of his research projects on his office wall that must move forward in a span of two weeks in order to meet goals he sets for himself.


Connors plans to graduate in May 2018 and aspires to become a professor of marketing at a top-tier, research-intensive business school that has its own doctoral program.

“Scott has a very large pipeline of theoretically interesting work,” says Jeff Joireman, Carson College associate professor of marketing. “He is easily the most productive student we have had in my 10 years in the program. His quality of writing and thinking is far beyond what I’ve ever seen. Scott is going to be a star.”