Peter McGraw
Marketing • Psychology

Koelbel – 432


Dr. Peter McGraw is an expert in the interdisciplinary fields of emotions and behavioral economics. McGraw has published in outlets such as Management SciencePsychological Science, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. His work has been covered by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, BBC, TIME, CNN, WiredThe Atlantic, and Harvard Business Review

He teaches a PhD course in behavioral economics, an MBA course in marketing management, and an undergraduate course in consumer behavior.

His latest project examines single living. More and more people are diverging from the typical prescribed path that marriage equals a good life—an observation reflected in rapidly changing demographics. One-hundred and twenty-eight million American adults are unmarried, 38% of households are solo, and 25% of Millennials are projected to never marry.

McGraw has three categories of projects related to living single:

His forthcoming book, Solo-Breaking the Rules in a World Built for Two, launches in January 2024.

Prior to his new endeavors, McGraw has spent more than a dozen years examining the antecedents and consequences of humor—work that has moved the study of humor from the niche to the mainstream. One advantage that he has over his predecessors is his ability to conduct state-of-the-art experiments with the help of the team he directs at the Humor Research Laboratory (aka HuRL).

In 2020, he authored Shtick to Business: What the Masters of Comedy Can Teach You about Breaking Rules, Being Fearless, and Building a Serious Career. In 2014, McGraw co-authored The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. His previous podcast I’M NOT JOKING  looks at the lives of comedians, improvisers, comedy writers along with other funny people from business, science and the arts.


McGraw’s publications are available on his website.


  • PhD, Quantitative Psychology (Judgment and Decision Making)
    The Ohio State University
  • MA, Quantitative Psychology (Judgment and Decision Making)
    The Ohio State University
  • MEd, Educational Psychology (Learning and Cognition)
    Rutgers University
  • BA, Psychology and Exercise Science
    Rutgers University


McGraw conducts research on the interplay of emotions, judgment and choice. His focus is on relationships, consumer behavior, product design, and public policy. He has investigated a variety of topics, asking questions such as:

  • How are singles overlooked and undervalued in the marketplace?
  • What makes things funny?
  • Can people feel happy and sad at the same time?
  • What makes something morally wrong?
  • How do feelings affect the ways people spend money?
  • What is the ideal length of a movie?

McGraw directs the Humor Research Laboratory (HuRL), which is dedicated to the scientific study of humor and its antecedents and consequences.

Research Interests

  • Emotion
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Humor
  • Entertainment


McGraw teaches at all levels of the Leeds School of Business: consumer behavior to undergraduates, marketing management MBA students, and behavioral economics to PhD students.

Teaching Interests

  • Marketing Management
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Advertising and Promotion Management

Select Honors

  • Colorado Business Social Media Leader; Denver Business Journal (2014)
  • Sterling-Rice Research Award (2010, 2011, 2013)
  • Marketing Science Institute Grant (2010, 2011, 2012)
  • Professor of the Game, CU Men's Basketball (2010)
  • Big XII Faculty Fellowship (2006, 2010)
  • Guiney Research and Teaching Award, Leeds School of Business (2008)
  • Transformative Consumer Research Grant (2008)
  • Marketing Science Institute Young Scholar (2007)