Hannah Altman

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PhD Student

Bachelor of Commerce; Bachelor of Health Science; Master of Philosophy; Doctor of Philosophy (In Progress)

Thesis topic

“The Tinder Effect and the Health and Fitness Industry”

Thesis project

This thesis will add to a fuller understanding of the supply and demand sides of the health and fitness (H&F) industry from both a theoretical and empirical perspective. It will explore the concepts of bounded rationality, and asymmetric and costly information with specific application and implications for the H&F industry. There is considerable anecdotal evidence that health and fitness (H&F) professionals, working in largely unregulated labour markets, perform sub-optimally and hold credentials that significantly exaggerate their skill sets. In an environment wherein information is asymmetric and costly, and, where consumers rely on decision making shortcuts or heuristics to choose their preferred H&F professionals, this gives rise to adverse selection and to potential issues of moral hazard behaviour.  It is within this context that we examine and estimate the extent to which, in the largely unregulated labour markets of the Greater Brisbane health and fitness industry, health and fitness professionals make use of explicit types of imagery to help sell their services while increasingly relying on unregulated social media outlets such as Instagram to do so.  On the flip side, we study the extent to which consumers use this imagery to help them determine whose professional services to purchase. Imagery is a way of framing an argument or proposition and is of particular importance where information is imperfect (asymmetric and costly).  Imagery therefore is as an important component of the heuristic toolbox.  To that end, we wish to examine whether these H&F professionals’ level of qualification is positively related to the degree to which specific types of imagery, in the form of sexualized social media content, is used to promote their services. This study, in effect, tests the hypothesis that an unregulated health and fitness market generates optimal outcomes from the perspective of the consumer and society at large and whether consumers and health and fitness professionals are rational in their use of sexualized imagery to help determine their purchases or in using such imagery to sell their services, respectively. We also test the hypothesis that decision making heuristics are efficient and effective and, if not, the extent to which institutional design impacts on the efficiency and effectiveness of decision-making heuristics. More broadly, we model the conditions under which heuristics and social context can result in rational individuals making decisions that are error-prone and costly from both an individual and social perspective. Of fundamental importance to this process is an individual’s decision-making environment which incorporates asymmetric and costly information as well as misleading information too costly to easily identify. Errors in decision-making are accentuated when institutions allow consumers to believe that misleading information is truthful and they then make rational decisions on that basis.

Supervisor details

Professor Benno Torgler – Principal Supervisor – E&F – QUT Faculty of Business and Law

Associate Professor Rob Robergs –  Associate Supervisor – School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences – QUT Faculty of Health

Professor Brad R. Humphreys – Associate Supervisor – John Chambers College of Business and Economics, West Virginia University

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