2023 Best Undergraduate Professors: Matt Johnson, Hult International Business School

Matt Johnson
Hult International Business School

“I am nominating Matt Johnson for his knowledge, transparency, patience, and passion. He has taken care of all his students during and after graduation.” – Sophie Echeverry 

Matt Johnson, 38, is Professor of Neuroscience and Consumer Psychology at Hult International Business School.

Heis a speaker, writer, and researcher, specializing in the application of psychology and neuroscience to branding. Following his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Princeton University, his work has probed the science of brand storytelling, experiential marketing, and consumer decision-making. 

He is the author of the top-selling consumer psychology book, “Blindsight: The (mostly) hidden ways marketing reshapes our brains “(BenBella, 2020), and most recently, “Branding That Means Business” (Economist Books, Fall 2022). In 2023, he was inducted into Thinkers50 Radar as one of 30 business thinkers with ideas most likely to shape the future.

As a contributor to major news outlets including Psychology Today, Forbes, and BBC, he provides expert opinion on a range of topics related to the human side of business. He is also passionate about helping brands harness insights from neuroscience to better understand, serve, and interact with their consumers. As the founder of NeuroScience Of, he consults with a wide array of organizations, including as an expert in residence for Nike. 



At current institution since what year?  2015

Education: BBA Psychology, UC San Diego; PhD Cognitive Psychology, Princeton University

List of Undergraduate courses you teach:  

  • Introduction to Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Applied Psychology for Business
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Brand Strategy
  • Neuromarketing


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when … I watched David Fincher’s The Social Network. A bit embarrassing, but it’s true. 

I wouldn’t say that set me on the path immediately, as I saw it way back when I was a PhD student still studying neuroscience. However, watching that movie was the first time it crossed my mind, and it may have planted a seed.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My current research focuses on how neuroscience can be applied to improve experiential marketing, by better understanding the subjective worlds of individual consumers. Recent work from myself and my co-authors suggest that the design of these experiences can leverage a consumer neuroscience perspective by focusing on two elements in particular: the psychological pain of the payment, and the anticipated pleasure of the product. 

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be …  A world famous DJ, traveling the world

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I’m very curious about each of the subject matters I teach, and as much as I may already know, I’m always hungry to learn more. It’s my hope that this rubs off on my students. In my view, instilling curiosity and wonder is the most important impact a professor can have.

One word that describes my first time teaching:  Riveting

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: Just because the class focuses on a certain discipline of business (e.g. marketing), it doesn’t mean that other perspectives (e.g. psychology) can’t be leveraged to help illustrate important concepts.

Professor I most admire and why: Patricia Churchland (UC San Diego), Barry Jacobs (Princeton University)


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Two things stand out to me. Firstly, it’s the students’ natural desire to apply these concepts in their own lives, and in their professional pursuits. These aren’t merely facts to be remembered, but ideas to put into practice. 

Secondly, it’s the breadth and reach of the subject matter. As a business professor, one of my favorite tasks is helping students draw connections between traditional business concepts (e.g. marketing), and seemingly distinct fields (e.g. psychology, anthropology, philosophy). 

What is most challenging? Rising above the traditional goals of maximizing profitability, and encouraging students to see the private sector as having an important role to play in cultivating social goods.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student:  Curious

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student:  Satisfied

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as … Strict, but fair


What are your hobbies? Writing, running, cheering for Arsenal FC, and hanging out with my two young sons 

How will you spend your summer? Researching, writing, and traveling

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Berlin, Germany

Favorite book(s): The Existentialist Cafe, by Sarah Bakewell; For The Culture, Marcus Collins; and Men without Women, Haruki Murakami

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? HBO’s Succession. Incredible longform storytelling. After 4 Seasons, you get to know each character so well that very subtle actions speak volumes. A character will lift an eyebrow in conversation and it will say a thousand words. Fantastic performance from the cast to bring it all to life so vividly. 

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? Right now I’m really enjoying movie scores, especially those composed by Emile Mosseri. The music is very very cinematic (not unsurprising!), and each song invokes a very specific narrative and set of imagery. A great companion for writing. 


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this …  Opportunities for business students to learn, and apply insights from non-business disciplines (e.g. psychology, anthropology, philosophy).

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at … Zooming out and investing in the longer term well-being of their organization and stakeholders.

I’m grateful for …  The health of my family.


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