Improve Behaviour | Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics

Improve Behaviour

Associate Professor Sunghwan Yi hopes to use research to improve self-regulation and compulsive consumer behaviour.

Sunghwan Yi, Associate Professor

From compulsive shopping and gambling addiction to healthy meal choices, associate professor Sunghwan Yi's research shares one common element: how can we improve self-regulation and compulsive consumer behaviour?

Yi's research focus comes from an interest in understanding why people are prone to spending much more time and money on things than they intend to, such as shopping, gambling, gaming, drinking or smoking. Often, these people fall into a cycle of excessive purchase and consumption because they are not aware of the triggers that cause it. Yi began to ask why people cannot learn from these experiences.

This curiousity also led to Yi exploring other issues about the triggers of excessive consumption, such as dieting, specifically when it comes to choosing unhealthy food despite wanting to choose healthier options. This led to Yi's interest in researching how to help change food habits and nudge people to choose and consume more vegetables in mass eating settings.

“Most people understand the benefits of a diet that includes fruits and vegetables. However, when it comes to implementing this change, many find it very difficult to follow through. The same intention-behaviour gap for healthy eating among university students exists. This led me to the question: how can we help close this gap?"


  • Automatic determinants of addictive, impulsive and compulsive consumer behaviour (excessive buying, gambling, etc.)

  • Factors conducive to successful self-regulation and barriers in the context of impulsive consumption

  • Affective motives of engaging in impulsive consumption behaviour

  • Real-time assessment of consumption, affective antecedents, and post-consumption experiences

  • How to help change food habits and nudge people to consume more vegetables in mass eating settings


  • OMAFRA-UG partnership fund: $100,000 for research in nudge-based approaches to increasing vegetable consumption among young adults in Ontario

  • Manitoba Gambling Research Program: $49,944 for research in daily diary investigation of self-regulation in gambling

Education and Experience

  • Associate Professor, Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies at the University of Guelph

  • PhD, Pennsylvania State University

  • MBA, Seoul National University

  • BBA Seoul National University