Kyle Murray

Why Do People Do What They Do?

When he's not spending time with family or doing indoor rock climbing, this researcher is trying to get to the bottom of human decision-making.


Prof. Kyle Murray is a Professor of Marketing and the Director of the School of Retailing at the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta. We ask him everything from what historical figure he would like to meet to what’s on his playlist in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What inspired you to become a scientist?
Curiosity and a love of experimental research – I like to figure out what causes what. Early on as an undergrad, I realized that I was interested in better understanding how people think and why they make the decisions they do.

What’s on your playlist?
I have eclectic tastes in music. I like top 40. I am also a big fan of opera (looking forward to seeing a local production of Luci Di Lammermoor this weekend). When relaxing at home I often listen to R&B or Jazz or classical. These days I am less likely to buy and more likely to stream music.

If you could meet any historical figure who would it be and why?
Always a tough question. History, of course, has so many interesting people. Maybe John Watson who established the behaviourism in psychology and then went on to a successful career in advertising. It would be very interesting to talk to Darwin during or shortly after he articulated his theory of evolution.

If you could do any profession other than your own what would it be?
I started my career in finance, so I can imagine what it would be like to have stayed there and I think it would have work out well. If money wasn’t a concern, I could imagine being a novelist. But ultimately, being a research professor is the perfect career for me. I am very lucky to have found it and found some success at it.

What do you like to do for fun?
I try to spend as much time as I can with my family. I also like to travel, enjoy the arts, watch sports (hockey, football and basketball), see movies and play the occasional video game. I exercise when I can (my favourite work out in recent years has been indoor rock climbing).