Professor Ashlee Humphreys is a sociologist who examines core topics in consumer behavior and marketing strategy. She studies the role of institutions in markets and the influence of language on both consumer judgments of legitimacy and the broader process of legitimation. She is the author of Social Media: Enduring Principles, and her work has been published in the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Consumer Research, and the Journal of Marketing Research. She serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Marketing and the Journal of Consumer Research.
Following from her work on legitimacy, Humphreys has applied institutional theory to study the role of media discourse in shaping consumer perceptions of environmental disasters and online gambling. She has also used this approach to better understand how products shape consumer perceptions of legitimacy, and to look at how firms drive markets through a social and media system to shape consumer perceptions and preferences.
In Social Media: Enduring Principles (Oxford University Press, 2016), Professor Humphreys provides a review and synthesis of the empirical social science research on social media. Her research on social media includes a project looks at the development of norms and institutions on Wikipedia and another project assesses the creation of value on YouTube. Lastly, she is interested developing theories for understanding fundamental consumer institutions such as ownership. Her work in this area proposes that consumption can be viewed in terms of access rather than ownership, a model that is useful for understanding the ways in which consumers use media properties and shared resources.
Professor Humphreys received her PhD in Marketing in 2008 from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University with a focus on Cultural Sociology. Her dissertation research examined how markets are created through shifts in social structure using the case of casino gambling in America. This research was selected as a lead article in the Journal of Marketing and was runner up for the Maynard Award for best paper in Marketing. Humphreys also won the Sidney J. Levy award in 2010 for the contribution of her dissertation research to Consumer Culture Theory. She was also named as an MSI Marketing Scholar in 2020.
In all of this work, she has developed and refined the method of automated text analysis, or using computers to analyze textual data, a method she helped introduce to Marketing.