My research examines psychological processes that lie at the core of real-world social, political and policy problems. I am interested in how subtle changes in the way an issue is framed can change attitudes and behavior in ways that benefit individuals, the communities and organizations they are a part of and society more broadly. A major theoretical theme of my work is an exploration of the ways in which the self-concept—a person’s understanding of the kind of person he or she is—can drive important behavioral decisions.
Using this approach, my collaborators and I have persuaded teenagers to choose fruit and water over chips and soda, substantially increased turnout among voters in two major elections, eliminated cheating among people who knew they couldn’t be caught, gotten young children to put down exciting toys to help an adult with chores, persuaded employees to increase their real-life retirement saving rates, and opened people’s minds to opposing viewpoints on controversial social and political issues.
Much of my research takes the form of field experiments. Some of my ongoing field experiments examine psychological factors that can be leveraged to encourage people to make better health choices, to avoid risky driving behavior, or to give regularly to charity.
My objective is to conduct research that adds to basic psychological theory in ways that inform policy about pressing societal issues.