This is a weekly online seminar series on behavioral research. We are currently taking a break, but plan to be back later in 2021.
The information posted below pertains to talks delivered in Spring 2021. To access 2020 seminars and links to recordings, please visit this link: .htm.
Most past seminars can be viewed on our YouTube Channel .
Pacific Time: 9AM-10AM
Eastern Time: 12PM-1PM
Barcelona Time: 6PM-7PM
Friday, May 7th
Jesse Singal (.htm)
Title: The Quick Fix: Why Psychology Can't Cure Our Social Ills
Panel: Yoel Inbar and Alexa Tullett
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/Hr7QNtatZJ0
Friday, April 30th
Deborah Small (.htm) – University of Pennsylvania
Title: Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is: A Field Experiment Nudging Consumers To Publicize Their Donations To Charity
Abstract: Due to the power of social influence, donors could amplify their impact by sharing about their donations. However, when deciding whether to tell others about their generosity, donors often overlook the social impact of sharing and instead focus on possible risks to their reputation (e.g., of seeming braggy, inauthentic). In a large pre-registered field experiment, we tested a brief post-donation intervention designed to encourage word-of-mouth by re-orienting donors to the social impact case for sharing. After donating, 80,679 donors to an education non-profit received either a control or a treatment message asking them to share a link to the cause via social media, text, or email. Compared to the organization’s standard solicitation (‘Please share your donation…’), our intervention emphasized the consequences of sharing for the cause (‘Your donation can start a chain reaction…’). This message increased click-through by 4.8%, likelihood of recruiting at least one later donation by 11.6%, and funds raised via social influence by 15.2% per donor treated. While many field experiments aim to increase donation rates or magnitudes, we show that thoughtful marketing can also exogenously influence word-of-mouth, and we discuss approaches for encouraging sharing in the domain of charity and beyond.
Panel: Bethany Burum, Lucius Caviola, Shereen Chaudhry, Ioannis Evangelidis, Ike Silver, and Rima Toure-Tillery
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/r1H7HEJa2ug
Friday, April 23rd
Leif Nelson (.htm) – University of California, Berkeley
Title: The Value of Replications in the Behavioral and Consumer Sciences
Abstract: A primary goal of behavioral science is to collect true facts about people. If our experimental claims are true, then we should be able to make predictions about how people will behave. The easiest prediction to make is that people will behave similarly in a replication experiment as they did in the original. In this regard, replicability is our best proxy for the truth of a claim. I report two large projects designed to turn the lens of replication onto the subject of consumer research. In one (N = 17,481), replication experiments give a window into multiple potential threats to the validity of claims in consumer research, including that of non-replication. In another, we conduct many replications to develop and empirical audit of research on the psychological consequences of scarcity (N = 12,366). We identify which elements of that active literature are replicable, and which are not. We forward this empirical approach as an alternative to qualitative review or meta-analysis. Replications are a valuable and necessary tool for advancing behavioral and consumer sciences.
Panel: Jessica Flake, Don Moore, Mike O'Donnell, and Liz Tenney
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/DflbIVB2MH0
Friday, April 9th
Joshua Lewis (.htm) – New York University
Title: A New Direction For Anchoring
Abstract: People’s estimates of unknown quantities tend to be higher after previously considering a high value (or “anchor”) than after considering a low value. Researchers attempting to explain this “anchoring effect” have emphasized how anchors often prompt people to engage in “insufficient adjustment,” whereby people adjust downwards (but insufficiently) from high anchors and upwards (but insufficiently) from low anchors. In our research, we find that people engage not only in insufficient adjustment, but often in wrong-way adjustments as well. The mere act of considering a high anchor leads people to entertain the possibility that the correct answer might be even higher, and the mere act of considering a low anchor leads people to entertain the possibility that the right answer might be even lower. As a consequence, anchors can lead people to adjust higher from high anchors and lower from low anchors, which, of course, increases the size of anchoring effects. In Study 1, we elicit both anchored and unanchored estimates of the same quantities from the same people, and we find that a sizable proportion of them – roughly 20% – adjust the “wrong way” from anchor values. In Studies 2 and 3, we find that this tendency is predictable. People are more likely to adjust upwards from high anchors for quantities that are intuitively large (e.g., the weight of an elephant) and to adjust downwards for small anchors for quantities that are intuitively small (e.g., the weight of a mouse). In Study 3, we further show that this effect has implications for consumer purchase decisions.
Panel: Clayton Critcher, Derek Koehler, Julia Minson, Hannah Perfecto, and Dan Schley
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/rwZbw4lJLAc
Friday, April 2nd
Abigail Sussman (.htm) – University of Chicago
Title: A Preference for Costly Disclosures
Abstract: We identify a consumer preference for information disclosure that is ultimately costly to consumers (a preference for costly disclosures). We examine the impact of additional (but in fact irrelevant) information in price disclosures, operationalized as price disaggregation (i.e., separating charges into multiple line items). Across a variety of products, we find: (1) most consumers prefer disaggregated, rather than consolidated, price disclosures; (2) disaggregated price disclosure can be harmful to consumers, as consumers are more likely to choose financially dominated options (higher priced but not higher quality) when presented with disaggregated price disclosures; and (3) these results are not artifacts of mismatched preferences, as consumers’ preferences for disclosure type are uncorrelated with the likelihood they choose financially dominated options. Furthermore, while consumers perceive disaggregated prices as more complex, they also tend to believe that disaggregation facilitates the selection of lower-price options and signals firm transparency. These results suggest that consumers perceive benefits from disaggregated price disclosures but also commit computational errors while believing they will not. In addition, these results identify consumer preferences as a novel factor enabling price shrouding, suggesting that firms could use disaggregation to shroud prices while signaling transparency and trustworthiness.
Panel: Robyn LeBoeuf, Shelle Santana, Suzanne Shu, Shannon White, and Gal Zauberman
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/sYsG2Ov5xtI
Friday, March 26th
Geoff Goodwin (.htm) – University of Pennsylvania
Title: People Make Sub-optimal Moral Decisions About Euthanizing Humans As Compared With Animals
Abstract: “Mercy killing” is an unproblematic concept when used to justify the active killing (euthanasia) of animals in extreme pain that would die anyway. It seems humane because it alleviates suffering and is therefore in the animals’ best interests. Do people similarly believe that actively killing humans in intractable, terminal pain is morally preferable to passively allowing them to die? In this research, we document a pattern of perverse judgments in which active (vs. passive) killing is judged to be in the best interests of both human and animal sufferers, yet morally preferable only for animals. Paradoxically, it seems that precisely because humans are judged to have especially high moral status, they are subject to moral decisions that violate their best interests.
Panel: Paul Bloom, Ana Gantman, Chelsea Helion, David Pizarro, and Gracie Reinecke
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/r8fDDYm1-S0
Friday, March 19th
Joe Hilgard (.htm) – Illinois State University
Title: Making Science Self-Correcting
Abstract: Self-correction is commonly praised as a strength of the scientific method: Over time, errors will be detected, corrected, and replaced by more accurate results. Attractive in principle, the practical reality of trying to correct the scientific literature leaves much to be desired. In this talk, I discuss some techniques for identifying erroneous claims. I describe the responses from authors, universities, and journal editors, both helpful and unhelpful. I conclude with suggestions to help science live up to its promises of self-correction.
Panel: Nick Brown, Malte Elson, Julia Haaf, James Heathers, and Alice Moon
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/N7Iclo89FYQ
Friday, March 12th
Leslie John (.htm) – Harvard University
Title: Joy and Rigor in Behavioral Science
Abstract: In the past decade, behavioral science has seen the introduction of beneficial reforms to reduce false positive results. Serving as the motivational backdrop for the present research, we wondered whether these reforms might have unintended negative consequences on researchers’ behavior and emotional experiences. In an experiment simulating the research process, Study 1 (N=449 researchers) suggested that engaging in a pre-registration task impeded the discovery of an interesting but non-hypothesized result. Study 2 (N=404 researchers) indicated that relative to confirmatory research, researchers found exploratory research more enjoyable, motivating, and interesting; and less anxiety-inducing, frustrating, boring, and scientific. These studies raise the possibility that emphasizing confirmation can shift researchers away from exploration, and that such a shift could degrade the subjective experience of conducting research. Study 3 (N=314 researchers) introduced a scale to measure “prediction preoccupation”—the feeling of heightened concern over, and fixation with, confirming predictions.
Panel: Dana Carney, Jana Gallus, Yoel Inbar, and Alexa Tullett
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/y31G63iw2xw
Friday, March 5th
Keith Chen (.htm) – UCLA
Title: Investigating Partisan Cognition and Behavior Using Smartphone Data
Abstract: Mistrust of scientific evidence and government-issued guidelines is increasingly correlated with political affiliation. Survey evidence has documented skepticism in a diverse set of issues including climate change, vaccine hesitancy, and, most recently, COVID-19 risks. Less well understood is whether these beliefs alter high-stakes behavior. Combining GPS data for 2.7 million smartphone users in Florida and Texas with 2016 U.S. presidential election precinct-level results, we examine how conservative-media dismissals of hurricane advisories in 2017 influenced evacuation decisions. Likely Trump-voting Florida residents were 10 to 11 percentage points less likely to evacuate Hurricane Irma than Clinton voters (34% versus 45%), a gap not present in prior hurricanes. Results are robust to fine-grain geographic controls, which compare likely Clinton and Trump voters living within 150m of each other. The rapid surge in media-led suspicion of hurricane forecasts—and the resulting divide in self-protective measures—illustrates a large behavioral consequence of science denialism.
Panel: Dorothy Kronick, Abhishek Nagaraj, and Ricardo Perez-Truglia
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/4GT6pTIIfUs
Friday, February 26th
Liz Tenney (.htm) – University of Utah
Title: Amplifying Voice in Organizations
Abstract: In theory, when employees voice suggestions for organizational improvement, they should not only contribute to organizational success but also gain status. In practice, however, voicers can go unrecognized and underutilized. Previous research has largely looked to voicer-supervisor relationships to explain and rectify this issue. We investigate how employees can help peers get a status boost from voicing, while also raising their own status, by introducing the concept of amplification—public endorsement of another person’s contribution, with attribution to that person. In two experiments and one field study, we find that amplification enhances status both for voicers and for those who amplify voice. Being amplified was equally beneficial for voicers who framed their ideas promotively (improvement-focused) and prohibitively (problem-focused; Study 1), and for men and women (Study 2). Furthermore, amplified ideas were rated as higher quality than nonamplified ideas. Amplification also helped amplifiers: participants reading experimentally manipulated meeting transcripts rated amplifiers as higher status than those who self-promoted, stayed quiet, or contributed additional ideas (Studies 1 and 2). Finally, in an intervention in a nonprofit organization, select employees trained to use amplification attained higher status in their work groups (Study 3). In all, these results increase our understanding of how social actors can capitalize on instances of voice to give a status boost to voicers who might otherwise be overlooked, and help organizations realize the potential of employees’ diverse perspectives.
Panel: Kristin Bain, Joey Cheng, Crystal Farh, Tamar Kreps, Elizabeth Morrison, and Nathan Podsakoff
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/1ik7I_-bUJo
Friday, February 19th
Quentin André (.htm) – University of Colorado
Title: Can Consumers Learn Price Dispersion? Evidence for Dispersion Spillover Across Categories
Abstract: Dispersion knowledge—the beliefs that consumers have about the minimum, the maximum, and the overall variability of values in a distribution—is a key antecedent of many judgments and decisions. In this talk, I will present the results of multiple studies examining people’s ability to form accurate dispersion knowledge. I will first describe a phenomenon we call dispersion spillover: Seeing more (vs. less) dispersed prices in one category inflates people’s perception of price dispersion in another category. I will then highlight marketplace implications of this dispersion spillover, and present evidence that it can influence judgments of price attractiveness, the likelihood that people will search for (and find) better options, and how much people bid in auctions. Finally, I will discuss what this bias reveals about the mental representations underpinning dispersion knowledge.
Panel: Craig McKenzie, Ellen Peters, Nicholas Reinholtz, Jennifer Trueblood, and Stijn van Osselaer
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/KhqY8D-8BLM
Friday, February 12th
Gal Zauberman (.htm) – Yale University
Title: When is Too Few a Bias? The Impact of Political Ideology on Perceptions of Fairness in Outcomes
Abstract: It is common to observe claims that an organization, a group, or a person is biased towards some other group. We frequently see headlines like “Google, like most Silicon Valley companies, has a big diversity problem,” or “Democrats dominate most [academic] fields.” Such claims often compare an under/over representation of a particular group to some baseline (e.g., the base-rate in the population). That is, individuals form a judgment about bias by observing a distributional outcome. The present work examines how individuals come to judge distributional imbalances as representing bias —in hiring decisions, admissions decisions, and so on—and whether these judgments depend on their political ideology (specifically, the degree to which evaluators are liberal vs. conservative). In addition to testing the impact of ideology on judgments of bias, we also use this context to illustrate the importance of stimulus sampling and selecting the right controls when studying such topics.This work is co-authored with Ryan Hauser and Jin Kim.
Panel: Ellen Evers, Ayelet Fishbach, Jin Kim, Deb Small, and Leaf Van Boven
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/rHfUxHCxB5M
Friday, February 5th
Dorothy Kronick (.htm) – University of Pennsylvania
Title: Do Shifts In Late-Counted Votes Signal Fraud? Evidence From Bolivia
Abstract: Surprising trends in late-counted votes can spark conflict. When late-counted votes led to a narrow incumbent victory in Bolivia last year, fraud accusations followed—with dramatic political consequences. We study the pro-incumbent shift in vote share as the tally progressed, finding that we can explain it without invoking fraud. Two observable characteristics, rurality and region, account for most of the trend. And what looked like a late-breaking surge in the incumbent’s vote share—which electoral observers presented as evidence of foul play—was actually an artifact of methodological and coding errors. Our findings underscore the importance of documenting innocuous explanations for differences between early- and late-counted votes.
Panel: Santiago Anria, Ernesto Calvo, Justin Grimmer, Lauren Prather, and Rocío Titiunik
Friday, January 22nd
Jen Dannals (.htm) – Dartmouth College
Title: Perceiving Social Norms in Groups
Abstract: Social norm perception is ubiquitous in groups and teams, but how individuals approach this process is not well understood. When individuals wish to perceive descriptive social norms in a group or team, whose advice and behavior do they prefer to rely on? Four lab studies and one field study demonstrate that when individuals seek information about a team’s social norms they prefer to receive advice from lower-ranking individuals (Studies 1-4) and give greater weight to the observed behavior of lower-ranking individuals (Study 5). Results from correlation (Study 3) and moderation (Study 4) approaches suggest this preference stems from the assumption that lower-ranking team members are more attentive to and aware of the descriptive social norms of their team. Alternative mechanisms (e.g., perceived similarity to lower-ranking team members, greater honesty of lower-ranking team members) were also examined, but no support for these was found.
Panel: David Dunning, Daniel Feiler, and Emily Reit
Link To Video: https://youtu.be/FuF8oTCm36A