Posted by Roman Family Center for Decision Research on May 2, 2023
The winner of this year's Thaler-Tversky Independent Research Grant for Emerging Scholars is Quinn Hirschi, a first-year principal researcher whose proposed project will explore the misconception that one should talk less in a conversation to appear likable.
The Thaler-Tversky Research Grant is supported by the generosity of Professor 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.
With this grant, Quinn joins an illustrious group of past award recipients from Chicago Booth and beyond.
Congratulations to Quinn! Learn more about her proposed research below.
About Quinn Hirschi
Postdoctoral principal researcher
PhD in Social Psychology, University of Virginia
Advisor: Nicholas Epley
About the Proposed Project
"Many people want to know how to be likable in conversations with strangers, as evidenced by the popularity of Dale Carnegie’s (1936) book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Yet, research has uncovered that people hold incorrect beliefs about how to achieve this goal. Specifically, my colleagues and I have discovered that people mistakenly believe they should hold back and speak less than half the time to come across as likable, although they tend to recognize they should speak more than half the time to be interesting (Hirschi, Wilson, & Gilbert, 2022). In an in-progress solo-author paper, I am following up on this work by testing three important questions our first paper raised.
First, in Studies 1-4 of this in-progress paper, I asked why people think they should speak less to be liked, and found evidence that this belief stems from people’s conversational insecurities as well as some cynicism about how much others would prefer to talk about themselves (vs. learn about someone new). Specifically, in Study 1, I found that when participants imagined one of their peers in the exact same situation as them, they reported that their peer should speak significantly more than they should (providing support for the conversational insecurities hypothesis), but still significantly less than 50% of the time (providing support for the cynicism about others hypothesis). In Study 2, I found participants thought they should speak significantly less when talking to a high-status conversation partner, but significantly more when talking to a low-status conversation partner, suggesting that people’s confidence in a given conversational context can influence their beliefs. Further, in Study 3, I found that the more socially anxious, the shier, and the more sensitive to rejection people are, the less they think they should speak to be liked, and in Study 4, I ruled out the possibility that people have extremely nuanced views about how to be likable. Rather, all else being equal, people think the best strategy for being likable is to both speak less and disclose less.
Second, in Study 5, I asked whether this belief is related to people’s behavior in real-world conversations, and found evidence that it is. Specifically, people who thought they should speak less to be liked actually did speak less in a Zoom conversation with a stranger.
Finally, given given that I have found evidence that this is a widely-held belief that is related to people’s behavior in real-world conversations, I now want to test whether this belief is helping people or if it is actually hurting them."