Peter McGraw
Marketing Program Director

Koelbel 484

Peter McGraw is an innovative researcher who has a talent for fostering community. During his academic career, he has received more than 15 awards, grants and honors. He has published more than 30 papers in outlets such as the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Management Science, Psychological Science, and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. His work has been covered by the BBC, NPR, MSNBC, Scientific American, Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times. Most recently, McGraw made the 2013 Stylish Scientist List – probably because he likes to wear a sweater vest.

Dr. McGraw’s research examines the interrelationship of judgment, emotion, and choice, with a focus on consumer behavior and public policy. He has recently turned his attention to the question of what makes things funny, and its implications for marketing and management. The 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 Lab (aka HuRL), a laboratory dedicated to the experimental study of humor, its antecedents and consequences.

McGraw has recently co-authored a book, The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny.


A full list of publications is available at Professor McGraw's website.


  • Ph.D., Quantitative Psychology (Judgment and Decision Making)
    The Ohio State University
  • M.A., Quantitative Psychology (Judgment and Decision Making)
    The Ohio State University
  • M.Ed, Educational Psychology (Learning & Cognition)
    Rutgers University
  • B.A., Psychology and Exercise Science
    Rutgers University


Ever wonder why people laugh at inappropriate comments, what makes an heirloom invaluable, or why an Olympic athlete might be unhappy to win a medal? These interesting questions that focus on the relationship between emotions, judgment, and decisions are just a few examples of McGraw’s research questions.

McGraw directs two unique interdisciplinary research laboratories the Moral Research Laboratory (MoRL) and the Humor Research Laboratory (HuRL). His current work includes developing a theory of mixed emotions, examining how businesses could better use humor, and investigating how consumers go about purchasing funerals and weddings.

Research Interests

  • Consumer Psychology
  • Judgment and Choice
  • Emotion
  • Moral Psychology
  • Humor


McGraw’s teaching is primarily focused on the Leeds School’s popular Buyer Behavior course. He also regular teaches a doctoral seminar on judgment and decision making. Whenever possible, he draws on new research in consumer psychology to inform his classes about emerging evidence in the field. He also takes a unique approach to his teaching by focusing not only on the firm’s marketing strategies but also on consumer education – so that students (consumers themselves) can be more effective in the marketplace. Finally, McGraw likes to have some fun in the classroom and hosts a class “Olympics” that features competitions in various events, such as bowling, kickball, and trivia bowl.

Teaching Interests

  • Consumer Behavior
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Advertising and Promotion Management


  • 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)
  • Best Paper, Society for Consumer Psychology Winter Conference (2009)
  • Guiney Research and Teaching Award, Leeds School of Business (2008)
  • Transformative Consumer Research Grant (2008)
  • Marketing Science Institute Young Scholar (2007)