General Management and New Media student Meghan Rennie is spending her summer vacation conducting research that is right up her alley. Working with Dr. Rhiannon Mesler in the Mesler Behavioral Science Lab, Meghan is looking at the relationship between an individual's political orientation and their likelihood of being recruited into a multi-level marketing (MLM) business, such as Monat, Avon, Scentsy, etc., after reading other recruits’ reviews of the business. Meghan’s research argues that individuals who lean conservative are more likely than individuals who lean liberal to be recruited into an MLM business.

Her hypothesis is that after reading a negative review of an MLM business, it is anticipated that conservative-leaning individuals are more likely to join the business, as traditional conservative values place a stronger emphasis on individual accountability and success, and negative reviews will be attributed to the actions of the individual. In contrast to liberal-leaning individuals, they are expected to attribute negative reviews to the structure of the business, which in turn leads to lower levels of recruitment over conservative individuals.

For the project, Meghan is assisting in compiling research and writing an academic paper for publication. Since this is her first research position, she notes that she had to spend some time familiarizing herself with key terms and concepts and the process of writing academically. Meghan notes that this research encompasses multiple interests of hers, particularly as it relates to the psychological aspects of business and consumer behaviour, as well as political orientation. She says in the past year, she’s become interested in how one’s political beliefs may impact other areas of their lives.

These days, people identify very strongly with their political opinions, and they use such information to construct their social groups, dictate their worldviews, and (of course) make choices as consumers. I like being able to make connections between the concepts I am learning and the actions of those around me. I feel that I am understanding myself and others better, because I am gaining new lenses through which to interpret our thoughts and behaviours.

Meghan adds that she strongly values research that promotes prosocial activity, as the work she is doing this summer shows how business concepts can be applied to areas of activism and broader social change.

“Outside of work and school, I currently lead the Climate Justice Working Group, a grassroots organization that aims to reinvigorate environmentalism in the community. I am able to extrapolate my research knowledge to learn how different demographics respond to marketing campaigns about volunteerism and community betterment. I find this research fascinating in and of itself, but I'm also excited to see how its conclusions can be applied to the real world.”

In her research position, Meghan says there is an emphasis placed on her own personal development and she is encouraged to learn by her supervisor. Overall, she says her position this summer is allowing her to develop many valuable skills and gain a clearer understanding of the research process.

I am valued as a research assistant and as a growing academic, and this manifests in oversight that is supportive, but which also allows for autonomy. This position is opening me up to a potential future in academic research, which is very appealing to me. The events of the past year have created a lot of uncertainty, but I feel that this summer is helping me to clarify where my passion lies and what I want my future to look like. Altogether, I know that I will carry what I learn as a research assistant with me throughout my career, and that it will be applicable no matter where my life takes me.