Posted by Center for Decision Research on July 2, 2020
New diversity and inclusion initiatives by the Center for Decision Research were announced by the Center’s faculty director, Professor Nicholas Epley, and the executive director, Amy Boonstra, in a letter to the CDR community on June 9, 2020. The following is a modified excerpt from that message.
As part of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Center for Decision Research fully embraces the statement of President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Ka Yee C. Lee, and that of Dean Madhav Rajan, affirming the university’s commitment to combating racism that has long permeated American culture. Dean Rajan recently announced Chicago Booth's Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.
The primary goal of the Center for Decision Research is to support the highest quality behavioral science research. The CDR is dedicated to a dispassionate search for scientific truths to help people make wiser choices and lead better lives. The work of the CDR community supports research infrastructure meant to achieve these fundamental values.
As individual members of the Center for Decision Research, our faculty have investigated the science of prejudice, stereotyping, and intergroup relations—as well as real-world interventions that can mitigate some of the devastating effects of bias and racism. Highlights from these areas of research can be found here.
The CDR maintains a deep commitment to making our behavioral science research open to all people in order to obtain a full and accurate understanding of the human condition. This commitment includes broadly disseminating research findings, especially to underserved communities who might not otherwise hear of our work; it also includes an operational commitment to welcoming members of underrepresented minority communities to join our research activities as faculty, students, and staff.
The CDR has reaffirmed this commitment to diversity and inclusion by putting in place the following initiatives.
Disseminate Relevant Behavioral Science Research More Widely
Research published by CDR faculty is available on their faculty webpages, and on their personal websites. Highlights of research on prejudice, stereotyping, and intergroup relations are collected here. Two years ago, the CDR began the Think Better speaker series to disseminate our field’s research to as broad an audience as we can reach. Going forward, the CDR will select topics and speakers with our values of diversity and inclusion more firmly in mind than they have been in the past. And the CDR will continue to promote and disseminate these presentations as widely as possible, to be used as educational resources.
Increase Participation in Research Among Underrepresented Minorities
Members of the CDR know well that high-quality research cannot solely rely on a convenience sample of university undergraduates; researchers must take experiments out into the world to find more representative samples of the human experience. The CDR has worked toward this goal in the past decade by moving its laboratories beyond the campus community and into spaces that can provide more representative samples. These initiatives include CDR’s existing presence in downtown Chicago, field sites around the country, ongoing efforts to create collaborative laboratory exchanges in China and India, and CDR’s new virtual lab (created in response to COVID-19). Black voices are consistently underrepresented in psychological research. The CDR is positioned to help the field to do better. The Center is encouraged to have a more diverse sample in its virtual lab than typically seen in the campus lab, with 17% identifying as “Black or African American.” Even after the pandemic ends and in-person experiments resume, the CDR will maintain this virtual lab to enable a more diverse representation of voices in our research.
Increase Participation of Underrepresented Minorities In Behavioral Science
Black and brown voices are disproportionately underrepresented among behavioral scientists at all levels, from research assistants to PhD students to faculty. This diminishes the quality of research in the field because it limits the questions we ask, the theories we develop, and the hypotheses we test.
The CDR is committed to creating opportunities for underrepresented minorities to enrich the field at all levels.
As a first step, the CDR will launch a new summer internship program to begin in 2021. The Center will welcome six promising undergraduates from across the country to join the CDR as research assistants. These internships will be part of the Leadership Alliance program run through the University’s Office of Civic Engagement—and will pay for travel costs to and from Chicago, room and board, and conference travel. The goal will be to provide budding behavioral scientists from underrepresented communities the training and experience needed to advance their careers, placing them in a better position to join highly competitive PhD programs.
As a second step, the CDR will begin to work on fundraising that will allow us to increase representation at other points along the path to becoming a behavioral scientist. This includes participating in a program for local high school students seeking to become college students, creating a predoctoral program for college graduates interested in obtaining a PhD, and a postdoctoral program for PhD students working to become college or university faculty.
Establishing meaningful change through these programs will take time. The CDR is committed to this important work and is proud to be part of a university community that supports initiatives that will help advance our collective scientific understanding of human behavior.
Nick Epley and Amy Boonstra