Fall 2021 Workshops
When: Mondays 10:00–11:30 a.m. (unless otherwise noted)
Where: Workshops were held in a hybrid format - in person at the Harper Center and via Zoom.
Monday, September 27
University of Tennessee
"Wrong about everything: A wary psychologist tries to get things right"
A bat and a ball cost $1.10 total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. I hate that ball. I hate it because I can’t shake the illusion that it costs a dime even though I recognize that it costs a nickel. In this circumstance and many others, our intuition leads us astray and our reasoning has difficulty leading us aright. Much as I hate that ball, I hope that it also offers me a way to reach my undergraduate social psychology students. I’ve spent decades struggling to persuade them that much of what we know simply isn’t so (Gilovich, 1991). I have a growing suspicion, however, that many of them dismiss our entire field’s body of evidence as a series of curiosities and walk away from my class utterly confident in the knowledge that all that they know is so. I’ve decided to redouble my efforts by throwing out my textbook, lectures, and powerpoints, and writing my own book. My goal is to adopt an intellectually humble approach by highlighting how I am wrong—not just about the ball, but about just about everything, including now-debunked classic findings in social psychology. I will also give intuition its due whenever possible by highlighting cases where it is reasoning—not intuition—that leads us astray. In my talk, I’ll sketch out my plans for the book. Along the way, I’ll also share the makings of a research program exploring why people side with intuition even when their own rational analysis leads them to recognize that doing so will be costly. Some people may acquiesce to intuition (Walco & Risen, 2017) due to wishful thinking or out of sheer willfulness. Others, however, may welcome the costs of acquiescing to intuition when doing so allows them to realize their true selves (Maglio & Reich, 2018; Schlegel et al., 2013).
Monday, October 4
University of Chicago
"Self-fulfilling Stakeholder Expectations"
Should corporations be run to maximize shareholder welfare or should they also consider their impacts on society, beyond what governments require? Not yet explored in this seemingly endless dispute over corporate purpose is how the debate itself shapes expectations, behavior, and thus corporate reputational incentives. This project proposes that our expectations about appropriate firm behavior could be, to a degree, self-fulfilling. If everyone believes that corporations must maximize profits only, nobody will protest when corporate pursuits of profits harm society—the firms were fulfilling their duty and meeting investor and consumer expectations. But what if people instead believe that corporations should consider their social impacts, even sometimes at the expense of profits? Consumers, employees, and investors might be more willing to object to corporate harms by changing their purchasing, job choice, and investing behaviors or by petitioning corporate leaders for redress. Those objections would change firm incentives. And, in response to those tangible incentives, even purely profit-maximizing firms would try to do more good and less harm. Ironically, then, stakeholder expectations of firm morality could help make some level of firm morality more profitable. This Article explores this insight to develop Stakeholder Expectations Theory: Normative and legal interventions that encourage stakeholders to believe that firms can and should care about society could lead firms to internalize more externalities. In a preregistered study with over 600 participants, the Article finds initial empirical support for the theory, though further tests are needed.
Monday, October 11
University of Chicago
"Developing Robot Teammates that Enhance Social Dynamics and Performance in Human-Robot Teams"
Collaborative teams of people are most successful when they have positive social dynamics, where team members trust one another, feel included, and feel comfortable to openly discuss mistakes and errors. As robots increasingly join collaborative teams of people in a variety of settings (e.g., manufacturing plants, surgical suites, corporate workplaces, homes), it is important that we build robots that can perceive and positively influence these social dynamics for the benefit of the team. My work explores how social robots can enhance important social team dynamics in collaborative human-robot teams. It specifically investigates how robot behavior can positively shape trust, inclusion, and psychological safety, social dynamics that have been shown to have a significant positive influence on team performance. My work demonstrates that a robot’s behavior can influence not just how people interact with the robot, but how people in the group interact with each other.
Monday, October 18, 2021
"What Does It Mean to Be (Seen as) Human? The Importance of Gender in Humanization"
What does it mean to be human? Ten studies explore this age-old question and show that gender is a critical feature of perceiving humanness, being more central to conceptions of humanness than other social categories (race, age, sexual-orientation, religion, disability). Our first six studies induce humanization (i.e., anthropomorphism) and measure social-category ascription. Across different manipulations (e.g., having participants recall experiences, observe moving shapes, imagine non-human entities as people, and create a human form), we find that gender is the most strongly ascribed social category and the one that uniquely predicts humanization. To provide further evidence that gender is central to conceptions of personhood, and to examine the consequences of withholding it, we then demonstrate that removing it from virtual humans (Study 5), human groups (Study 6), alien species (Study 7) and individuals (Study 8) leads them to be seen as less human. The diminished humanness ascribed to nongendered and genderless targets is due, at least in part, to the lack of a gender schema to guide facile and efficient sensemaking. The relative difficulty perceivers had in making sense of nongendered targets predicted diminished humanness ratings. Finally, we demonstrate downstream consequences of stripping a target of gender: perceivers consider them less relatable and more socially distant (Study 8). These results have theoretical implications for research on gender, (de)humanization, anthropomorphism, and social cognition, more broadly.
Monday, October 25
"When Do Disparate Outcomes Reflect Bias? The Impact of Political Ideology on Judgments of Bias"
Assertions that an organization, a group, or a person is biased against some target group are often based on observed distributional outcome, namely the under- or over-representation of a target group relative to some baseline. The current research examines how individuals come to judge distributional imbalances as representing “bias” in decisions such as hiring or admissions. Our findings (26 studies; N = 12,490) suggest that judgments of bias depend on both target’s characteristics (whether the target is traditionally dominant, known, or ideologically relevant) and observers’ political ideology (liberal vs. conservative). Specifically, for bias against traditionally nondominant targets (e.g., women, Blacks, and immigrants), conservatives have higher thresholds for bias than liberals (i.e., tolerate greater imbalances against the target). In contrast, for bias against traditionally dominant targets (e.g., men, Whites, and native-born US citizens), liberals have higher thresholds for bias than conservatives. Such relationship between political ideology and judgments of bias is eliminated, or significantly weakens, for unknown targets (e.g., groups labeled “Type J” ) or ideologically irrelevant targets (e.g., animals). These results suggest that judgments of bias themselves may be biased—as the judgments jointly depend on target’s characteristics and observers’ political ideology. In addition to producing robust results about the nature of judgments of observed relative representation, our investigation highlights the methodological imperative of stimulus sampling and selecting appropriate controls, and thus contributes to the ongoing debate on the ideological (a)symmetry hypotheses. This work is co-authored with Jin Kim and Ryan Hauser.
Monday, November 8
University of Chicago
"How you say it: Language and cultural learning"
Beyond the literal content it provides, language conveys social meaning. Drawing on my own research in psychology, and also on broader themes from linguistics, anthropology, economics, and the law I provide evidence that language provides a critical, and potentially primary, way in which people divide their social worlds. People judge others based on their speech, and in some cases social attention to language and accent can surpass attention to race. Yet, while linguistic diversity may cause social divisions, it can also facilitate social understanding. I conclude with new directions on the transmission of cultural attitudes and societal values to children in different contexts.