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Claire Linares

Assistant Professor, IESE Business School


Claire Linares, HEC PhD 2022, Marketing

Undertaking a PhD is a strong commitment because it requires hard work and there will be ups and downs. Nevertheless, if you think you might be suited for research, I encourage you to make the leap and see, because in the end it is hard to know what a PhD really is before you are doing it.


Why did you decide to join the HEC Paris PhD Program?

I chose HEC Paris to do my PhD for several reasons. The first one is that the school is a world class institution for research in management, and in particular in marketing. The professors in the marketing department do high quality research that is published in top-tier journals. I knew that I could get very good training. In the first two years of the PhD program, students attend an array of courses to acquire the foundations and methods to do research. Another reason is that I was interested in the research topics of some of the professors and I was eager to have the opportunity to work with them. As the cherry on the cake, I had an emotional attachment to HEC Paris as I did my Master in Management there a few years back. 

Can you talk about your research? 

I am specialized in marketing and in particular in consumer behavior. I study the psychology of consumers, for instance the decisions they make depending on contexts and why they make them. More specifically, my current focus of research is at the intersection of consumer behavior and face perception. I am interested in what people perceive in others' faces and how this influences their judgments and decisions. In my research, I try to study questions that have practical implications for marketing managers, but also for consumer welfare. Some of my findings also touch upon ethical issues and policy making.

How was your HEC journey?

My PhD journey at HEC Paris was very rich. During the first couple of years, I attended many courses to acquire a general knowledge of research in management and experimental methods. Quickly after that, I started learning to do research hands-on by running experiments under the close supervision and guidance of my thesis advisor. I also had the opportunity to do a six-month research visit at a top North American business school. Overall, I learnt tremendously during my PhD, it was both challenging and very rewarding.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to pursue a PhD? 

My first advice would be to talk with PhD students or professors before applying to a PhD program. This will be helpful to have a better grasp of the job of a researcher, both the good and the bad. The second piece of advice is to try to exchange with your future potential advisor before you join the program. The advisor plays an important role in the training and well-being of a PhD student. Undertaking a PhD is a strong commitment because it requires hard work and there will be ups and downs. Nevertheless, if you think you might be suited for research, I encourage you to make the leap and see, because in the end it is hard to know what a PhD really is before you are doing it. Best of luck!

Read the interview of Claire Linares and her advisor Anne-Laure Sellier' s research on "The Smartphone: Not the Behemoth Feared by Business and Researchers"


Thesis abstract, defended in June 2022

"Three essays on consumer social cognition in a technology-rich world"

The three essays of this dissertation examine consumer social cognition processes which take a special resonance in today’s technological world. Essay 1 investigates the effect of the mere presence of a technological device, a smartphone, on social interactions and creativity. The initial objective of this essay was to build on the work of Przybylski and Weinstein (2013), which showed a negative effect of the mere presence of a phone on relationship formation, to extend the investigation to creativity. After two failed replications of Przybylski and Weinstein’s (2013) results and an absence of robust results on creativity, the conclusion of this work is that the effect of the mere presence of a smartphone is at least harder to find than it may have been before. The two other essays in this dissertation examine questions at the intersection of management and face perception, at a time when faces take a new place in social interactions with the development of social media and videoconferencing platforms and with the increase in facial data with social media and facial detection technologies. Essay 2 investigates brand–user facial stereotypes, the mental representations that people have of the faces of the typical users of a brand (e.g., the face of a BMW driver). The first part reveals that such shared stereotypes exist by using a method borrowed from face-perception research that is new in consumer behavior research to compose “mugshots” of different car brand users for German consumers. The second part uncovers a face–brand matching effect, whereby observers can accurately match a target’s true perfume brand to their face, above chance level, and beyond sociodemographic cues. Together, the results of Essay 2 suggest that faces and brands can be connected both in consumers’ mental representations and in their actual faces. Although this work opens managerial opportunities, consumers may not be aware of the information that their faces reveal, which raises ethical questions to address. Finally, Essay 3 explores facial name stereotypes, that is the mental representations that people have of the face of someone wearing a given name (e.g., the stereotypical face of a man named James). The first part of a study produced mugshots associated with a series of French given names (e.g., the faces associated with the names Julien and Nicolas). The second part is currently in progress. Before sending the present document, the data collected up to March 29, 2022 were analyzed (143 valid participants out of 250 preregistered participants) to get a sense of the pattern. It already reveals that the mugshots are recognized on average by an independent sample of participants, significantly above chance level. If these preliminary results are confirmed once the preregistered sample size will be attained, this research would offer direct evidence supporting the existence of facial name stereotypes while validating the use of the reverse correlation technique from Essay 2 to capture such stereotypes. The objective is to take this work forward in the management domain in one of several possible directions fleshed out in the General Discussion of this essay. Overall, this dissertation sheds light on marketing and management questions that have theoretical relevance as well as managerial and ethical implications in our real- and virtual-world.Keywords: consumer behavior, social cognition, creativity, technology, face perception.