Dr Maggie Ying-ying Chu
Assistant Professor,
Lee Shau Kee School of Business and Administration

Interview with Dr Maggie Ying-ying Chu

Formulating a research topic which could have a potentially significant impact on both theory and practice is often challenging. In this interview, we are pleased to have Dr Maggie Chu sharing how she developed a research project which addressed these two aspects.

Dr Chu is an Assistant Professor in marketing. Her research proposal — ‘Halting wasteful consumption: The differential impact of guilt and shame’ — was awarded a grant by the Research Grants Council’s Faculty Development Scheme in the last round of applications.

Dr Chu formulated the research topic when pursuing her doctoral degree. At that time, her review of the literature in psychology, especially studies on emotion, helped her to understand the psychological concepts relevant to her project. Later, her exposure to marketing inspired her to apply these psychological concepts to research in an investigation into the underlying process by which the psychological emotions of guilt and shame affect consumer behaviour. Her proposed study will make a theoretical contribution to the literature through identifying ways to differentiate the emotions of guilt and shame, which often co-exist but are known to have differing psychological dimensions and implications for behaviour.

An awareness of social issues also prepared Dr Chu for her research project. She has been aware that wasteful consumption is a serious issue in developed countries, in particular in Hong Kong. ‘In Hong Kong, it is commonplace for people to throw away a fully functional phone, just for a change in style. Or, people order too much food in restaurants’, which has put a major burden on landfills here. The question then arises: how can we encourage more responsible consumption? Through observation, Dr Chu noticed that people often have the emotions of shame and guilt when committing such acts of wasteful consumption. She then came up with a research idea on whether guilt or shame could be manipulated so that wasteful consumption could be reduced.

In her proposal, Dr Chu highlighted the theoretical contribution and societal impact of her proposed study. She believes these are the two most important factors leading to the success of her grant application.

Throughout the preparation process, Dr Chu put a considerable effort into refining and revising her proposal. She is indebted to external reviewers and colleagues who gave her useful advice and comments, from which she was able to turn her proposal into a grant-winning one.

Dr Chu said that it is passion which drives her to continue to do research. ‘I need an intrinsic motivation for most of the things I do. Luckily, I have a strong interest in my current research focus.’ Like most researchers, Dr Chu has encountered numerous difficulties in every research study she has undertaken but she said that, with passion, one can overcome all these barriers in research.



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