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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 CDR faculty, researchers, staff, and students, plus invited guests. Additional requests to attend the workshop are handled on a case-by-case basis. Please email Tricia.Nicholson@chicagobooth.edu if you’d like to attend.

 

Fall Workshop Series 

Monday, October 3

Heather Schofield  
Perelman School of Medicine and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

"Cognitive Endurance as Human Capital" (full working paper)

Schooling may build human capital not only by teaching academic skills, but by expanding the capacity for cognition itself. We focus specifically on cognitive endurance: the ability to sustain effortful mental activity over a continuous stretch of time. As motivation, we document that globally and in the US, the poor exhibit cognitive fatigue more quickly than the rich across field settings; they also attend schools that offer fewer opportunities to practice thinking for continuous stretches. Using a field experiment with 1,600 Indian primary school students, we randomly increase the amount of time students spend in sustained cognitive activity during the school day—using either math problems (mimicking good schooling) or non-academic games (providing a pure test of our mechanism). Each approach markedly improves cognitive endurance: students show 22% less decline in performance over time when engaged in intellectual activities—listening comprehension, academic problems, or IQ tests. They also exhibit increased attentiveness in the classroom and score higher on psychological measures of sustained attention. Moreover, each treatment improves students’ school performance by 0.09 standard deviations. This indicates that the experience of effortful thinking itself—even when devoid of any subject content—increases the ability to accumulate traditional human capital. Finally, we complement these results with quasi-experimental variation indicating that an additional year of schooling improves cognitive endurance, but only in higher-quality schools. Our findings suggest that schooling disparities may further disadvantage poor children by hampering the development of a core mental capacity.

 

Monday, October 10

No workshop this week.

 

Monday, October 17

Eric Hehman
McGill University

"A formal model of prejudice"

The present research develops a formal model of prejudice. For nearly a century, psychology and other fields have sought to scientifically understand and describe the causes of prejudice. Numerous theories of prejudice now exist. Yet these theories are overwhelmingly defined verbally and thus lack the ability to precisely predict when and to what extent prejudice will emerge. The abundance of theory also raises the possibility of undetected overlap between constructs theorized to cause prejudice. Formal models allow for precise prediction enabling falsification, and provide a way for the field to move forward. To this end, we conducted 18 studies with ~5000 participants in seven phases of formal model development. After initially identifying major theorized causal predictors of prejudice in the literature, we used a model selection approach to winnow constructs into a parsimonious formal model of prejudice (Phases I & II). We confirm this model in a pre-registered out-of-sample test (Phase III), test variations in operationalizations and boundary conditions (Phases IV & V), and test generalizability on a U.S. representative sample, an Indian sample, and a UK sample (Phase VI). Finally, we consulted the predictions of experts in the field to examine how well they align with our results (Phase VII). We believe this initial formal model is limited and bad, but by formalizing a model that makes highly specific predictions, drawing on the state of the art in the science of prejudice, we hope to provide a foundation from which research can build to improve the science of prejudice.

 

Monday, October 24

Sandra Matz
Columbia Business School

"Hiring women into senior leadership positions is associated with a reduction in gender stereotypes in organizational language"

Women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions. This underrepresentation is at least partly driven by gender stereotypes that associate men, but not women, with achievement-oriented, agentic traits (e.g., assertive and decisive). These stereotypes are expressed and perpetuated in language, with women being described in less agentic terms than men. The present research suggests that appointing women to the top tiers of management can mitigate these deep-rooted stereotypes that are expressed in language. We use natural language processing techniques to analyze over 43,000 documents containing 1.23 billion words, finding that hiring female chief executive officers and board members is associated with changes in organizations’ use of language, such that the semantic meaning of being a woman becomes more similar to the semantic meaning of agency. In other words, hiring women into leadership positions helps to associate women with characteristics that are critical for leadership success. Importantly, our findings suggest that changing organizational language through increasing female representation might provide a path for women to break out of the double bind: when female leaders are appointed into positions of power, women are more strongly associated with the positive aspects of agency (e.g., independent and confident) in language but not at the cost of a reduced association with communality (e.g., kind and caring). Taken together, our findings suggest that female representation is not merely an end, but also a means to systemically change insidious gender stereotypes and overcome the trade-off between women being perceived as either competent or likeable.

 

Monday, October 31 

Ivuoma Onyeador 
Northwestern University

 

Monday, November 7

David Huffman
University of Pittsburgh

 

Monday, November 14

Peter DeScioli
Stony Brook University

"Strategies for choosing sides"

How do people choose sides in conflicts? People have to make difficult tradeoffs when deciding whether to take sides in a conflict, especially when bound by loyalties and obligations. I present experiments with a side-taking game in which eight players fight for money, and they choose sides in these conflicts. In the game, conflicts occur unpredictably between any two players in the group. Then the six other players choose sides and the fighter with more supporters wins the reward. To choose sides, each player ranks their loyalties to everyone else, which determines which side they will support when a conflict occurs. Different conditions vary whether the players know others’ loyalties, whether they can communicate, and the cost of gridlock resulting from ties. Overall, participants quickly formed alliances, even when alliances create a gridlock of costly ties. In contrast, participants did not use bandwagon or egalitarian strategies. I discuss implications for theories about cooperation, friendship, and morality.

 

Monday, November 21

No workshop this week.

 

Monday, November 28

Gautam Rao 
Harvard University

 

Monday, December 5

Jackson Lu 
MIT Sloan School of Management

Marketing Workshop

Many CDR members may also be interested in the schedule for the Marketing Workshop series.

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