The Center for Decision Research is pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of the Thaler-Tversky Independent Research Grant for emerging scholars: Daniel Albohn and David Munguia Gomez.

This program is supported by the generosity of CDR Governing Board Member Richard Thaler in honor of Amos Tversky, and provides grants up to $3,000 to support new behavioral science research led by University of Chicago PhD students and principal researchers.

Congratulations to Daniel and David! Learn more about their proposed projects below.

Daniel Albohn

Daniel Albohn

1st Year Principal Researcher
Advisor: Alexander Todorov

"Consequences of (perceived) non-neutrality in faces intended to be non-expressive"

Despite the prevalence and consequences of “reading emotion into” neutral faces, there has yet to be an investigation into why individuals read more negative emotion into some neutral faces compared to others, let alone the consequences of this behavior. The goals of the current project are twofold. The first is to empirically examine whether two “baseline” or “neutral” face images of the same person—one selected by the individual (“self-perceived”) and one selected by a naïve perceiver (“other-perceived”)—systematically differ from one another on perceived traits. For example, if an individual selects as their self-perceived “baseline” face one that is relatively unexpressive, but others perceive that individual’s “baseline” face to be slightly smiley, the individual’s self-perceived face will be evaluated as a “resting angry face”, among other negative impressions. 

The second goal is to demonstrate that these differences, or expectancy violations, predict meaningful outcomes related to gender-emotion stereotypes and can have downstream real-world consequences, such as in a job interview or workplace environment.  

Overall, I argue that if expected baselines (i.e., other-perceived) are not congruent with actual baselines (i.e., self-perceived), contrasting associations occur, which will result in the propagation of specific stereotypes related to gender and emotion.


David Munguia Gomez

David Munguia Gomez

4th Year PhD Student
Advisor: Emma Levine 

"How people think about achievements caused by luck and merit"

I seek to examine how people think about achievements that were caused both by factors outside their control (luck) and by their perceived ability (merit). I focus on cases where achievement is due to merit that was made possible by luck, such as earning a high grade (achievement) because one developed the content knowledge (merit) by being born to a family that can afford a private tutor (luck). I refer to these types of cases as “opportunity luck,” and posit that they model how luck (e.g., family wealth, networks, gender) often functions to confer rewards and opportunities in actuality. I seek to examine how people think about opportunity luck in relation to cases where achievements are due solely to merit, solely to luck, or both (e.g., where luck and merit played a role, but luck did not lead to the development of merit). Ultimately, this research hopes to shed light on how decisions about who to admit to college, to hire, etc., are affected by how people think about candidates' achievements and circumstances.