Research has always been the necessary backbone of many fields, including advertising. However, not everyone has the keen eye and skill required to be a successful researcher. TAI student Kelsi Jiang is a talented researcher in both the advertising and psychology fields.
Jiang is working on research studies within the Psychology department at SMU. She is working with Psychology Professor Michael Chmielewski and PhD student Rui Tang on several personality studies. She has various roles as a research assistant, including entering, managing and analyzing data, recruiting and contacting participants, and administering psychology tests to participants.
“Dr. Chmielewski’s lab focuses on personality studies, which covers psychopathology and normal-range personality with an emphasis on structure and assessment in both domains,” Jiang said. “Our current studies available for SMU Psychology students to participant in are: 1) Understanding personality through your cognitive ability. and 2) How college changes you over time.”
Her advertising classes have helped her to grow in her communication skills, which are very important for working in a research lab.
“As an international student, I used to avoid conversation and communication as much as possible,” Jiang said. “That can be a huge problem in research, and the difference between me and other research assistants who also [administered] tests to participants might become a reason for differences in the data. I would say all the advertising classes helped me develop my confidence in talking to people and polish up my communication skills.”
Jiang’s psychology research training also helped her in her advertising classes and in previous jobs.
“My research experience helped a lot in finding information and sorting out what is meaningful to the question of interest,” Jiang said. “I think the biggest benefit is my ability to read patterns from data and summarize key takeaways.”
Jiang’s love for research has taken her down the path to two separate majors; however, advertising and psychology backgrounds can work together very well.
“In many ways psychology and advertising work together,” Jiang said. “I think the most obvious one is in the research area. Marketing research and consumer research is the foundation of creating a successful ad campaign. Being able to read the research data and understand the research process [allows] marketers to better reach their target audience. On another hand, consumer behavior studies actually have a lot overlap with different areas of psychology. Learning those related theories could be very helpful to understand how people think and act.”
Jiang has always had a passion for research, which began from simply planning travel schedules for her friends and family. From that point, her courses at SMU influenced her love for research even further.
“I was obsessed to search information online and figure out how to make the best plan, most efficient, most interesting at the best price,” Jiang said. “When I started to study psychology, I didn’t know much about research. The first time I learned about research was my Research Methods class [for Psychology] where I got to know different types of research and how amazing and clever a lot of studies were designed. I always knew I loved numbers. As the research methods class went into more details, I find data and statistics is also a very important part of research. That also increased my interest and motivated me to take a Statistics minor.”
After graduation Jiang hopes to find a job in the advertising and marketing industry. She wants to specialize in search engine optimization or research, where she can use both her psychology and advertising training.
“Many people think that research is boring, complicated and time consuming,” Jiang said. “However, when you are really into it, you can find a whole different world. Numbers are not just numbers anymore, they tell you more reliable information than your thought and imagination [can].”