Behavioral Science Workshops - Roman Family Center | Chicago Booth

Behavioral Science Workshops

Invited guests, faculty, and students present current research in decision-making and judgment in our workshop series. The emphasis of our workshop series is on behavioral implications of decision and judgment models.

 Workshop Details

  • Where: Chicago Booth Harper Center, Classroom C06 - Note this year's workshops will be offered IN-PERSON ONLY
  • When: Mondays 10:10–11:30 a.m. (unless otherwise noted)
  • "Who can attend: Workshops are open to Roman Family Center faculty, researchers, staff, and students, plus invited guests. Additional requests to attend the workshop are handled on a case-by-case basis. Please email if you’d like to attend.


Fall Workshop Series 

Note: Talk titles and abstracts will be added throughout the quarter.


Monday, October 2, 2023

Deborah Small
Yale School of Management

"Reluctance to downplay harm: Asymmetric sensitivity to differences in the severity of moral transgressions"

A commonsense moral intuition is that bad acts should be condemned in proportion to their severity. Yet five preregistered experiments (N = 3,726) show that when comparing transgressions, the degree to which people differentiate between them hinges on a seemingly trivial factor: the direction of comparison. When starting with a less severe transgression and scaling up to a more severe one, people readily indicate that the worse transgression deserves stronger condemnation. But when starting with the more severe transgression and scaling down to the less severe one, people differentiate much less, often indicating that the less severe transgression deserves just as much condemnation as one that is transparently worse. We suggest that this asymmetry is driven by a reluctance to downplay harm, which is especially salient when scaling down. Supporting this account, we find that the asymmetry disappears when comparing less outrageous harms that are not as aversive to downplay.


Monday, October 9

Jessie Sun
Washington University in St. Louis

"Would You Be Happier if You Were More Moral?"

Would you be happier if you were more moral? Several conceptualizations of morality emphasize its role in regulating or sacrificing the pursuit of one’s own interests for the sake of others. This might imply that being and becoming more moral would be personally costly. In this talk, however, I show that 1) moral people tend to experience more happiness and meaning in life and that 2) people believe that becoming more moral would contribute positively to various aspects of their personal fulfillment. Beliefs about the well-being consequences of moral improvements are important because such beliefs strongly predict people’s desire to become more moral. These beliefs also help explain why people are less interested in making moral improvements (compared to less morally relevant improvements). Specifically, although people believe that moral improvements (e.g., becoming more compassionate, honest, or fair) would contribute to their happiness, meaning in life, goal attainment, social connectedness, and social status in an absolute sense, they believe that less morally relevant improvements (e.g., becoming less anxious, more sociable, or more intelligent) would improve their happiness and goal attainment to an even greater extent. These findings 1) provide a nuanced perspective on the psychological connections and tradeoffs between morality and well-being and 2) highlight the role of well-being considerations in explaining how and why people want to change themselves.


Monday, October 16

Charles Dorison
Georgetown McDonough School of Business

"Reputational Rationality Theory"

Traditionally, research on human judgment and decision making draws on cognitive psychology to identify deviations from normative standards of how decisions ought to be made. These deviations are commonly considered errors and biases. However, even though most decisions are embedded within complex social networks of observers, this approach typically ignores how decisions are perceived by valued audiences. To address this limitation, I propose reputational rationality theory: a theoretical model of how observers evaluate targets who do (vs. do not) strictly adhere to normative standards of judgment and choice. My research suggests that third-party observers systematically confer positive social evaluations on targets who deviate from normative standards, which I term the benefit of bias. These effects persist across decision domains (decision making under risk vs. escalation of commitment vs. belief updating), populations (laypeople vs. police chiefs vs. national security professionals), and dimensions of reputation (warmth vs. competence vs. trust). Acknowledging the (sometimes beneficial) reputational consequences of cognitive biases can address long-standing puzzles in judgment and decision making as well as generate fruitful avenues for future research. 


Monday, October 23

 John Rappaport
University of Chicago Law School

"Police agencies on Facebook overreport on Black suspects"

A large and growing share of the American public turns to Facebook for news. On this platform, reports about crime increasingly come directly from law enforcement agencies, raising questions about content curation. We gathered all posts from almost 14,000 Facebook pages maintained by US law enforcement agencies, focusing on reporting about crime and race. We found that Facebook users are exposed to posts that overrepresent Black suspects by 25 percentage points relative to local arrest rates. This overexposure occurs across crime types and geographic regions and increases with the proportion of both Republican voters and non-Black residents. Widespread exposure to overreporting risks reinforcing racial stereotypes about crime and exacerbating punitive preferences among the polity more generally.


Monday, October 30

Anthony Fowler
University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy

"Leadership or luck? Randomization inference for leader effects in politics, business, and sports"

Anecdotal evidence suggests that some leaders are more effective than others but observed differences in outcomes between leaders could be attributable to chance variation. To solve this inferential problem, we develop a quantitative test of leader effects that provides more reliable inferences than previous strategies, and we implement the test in the settings of politics, business, and sports. We find significant effects of political leaders, particularly in nondemocracies. We find little evidence that chief executive officers influence the performance of their firms. In addition, we find clear evidence that sports coaches matter for a wide range of outcomes in football, basketball, baseball, and hockey.


Monday, November 6

Nathan Nunn
University of British Columbia Vancouver School of Economics

"The causes and consequences of zero-sum thinking"


Monday, November 13

Sarah Lowes
University of California, San Diego


Monday, December 4

Sarah Lamer
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

"The Role of Cultural Patterns in Intergroup Cognition"

People tend to evaluate others based on social category membership and social scientists have long argued that people are socialized to hold biases about groups from what they observe around them. Yet, research on socialization has been limited by the lack of a framework for characterizing what is in the broader social environment and how the environment directly influences people’s beliefs. I use a Cultural Snapshots approach to examine socialization processes by first quantifying meaningful cultural patterns that people regularly see and then using experimental methodologies to examine how people’s social beliefs tune to those patterns. In my talk, I will discuss culturally prevalent patterns that shape important social beliefs (e.g., televised patterns of nonverbal emotion that convey gender role beliefs, patterns of emotion in racially-diverse crowds that heighten the importance of racial category distinctions, patterns of vertical location that convey gender stereotypes about power and dominance). Theoretical implications and practical applications will be discussed. Findings suggest that people tune their beliefs to the subtle patterns they regularly see in their social environments and support that people can detect even subtle patterns situated in the complex environments where they naturally occur.

Marketing Workshop

Many Roman Family Center members may also be interested in the schedule for the Marketing Workshop series.

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