Yale School of Management

Selected Research Abstracts

Published and Forthcoming Manuscripts

Baskin, Ernest, Margarita Gorlin, Zoë Chance, Nathan Novemsky, Ravi Dhar, Michelle Hatzis, and Kim Huskey (forthcoming). Beverage Proximity Increases Food Consumption, Appetite.

In an effort to bolster employee satisfaction, many employers provide free snacks at the office. Unfortunately, keeping employees happy can conflict with the goal of keeping them healthy, since increased snacking at work can contribute to overeating and obesity. Building on the growing body of research in choice architecture, we tested one factor that might influence snack consumption without impacting satisfaction: the relative distance between snacks and beverages. In a large field study in an office setting, we measured snack consumption when snacks were closer to or farther from beverages and found that employees who used the closer beverage station were more likely to take a snack--with meaningful implications for weight gain. It increases the likelihood of snacking from 12% to 23% for men and 13% to 17% for women. These results imply that employers and even families could reduce snack consumption easily, cheaply, and without backlash, by increasing the relative distance between the beverages and snacks.

 

Chance, Zoë, and Michael I. Norton (2015). The What and Why of Self-Deception, Current Opinion in Psychology

Scholars from many disciplines have investigated self-deception, but both defining self-deception and establishing its possible benefits have been a matter of heated debate – a debate impoverished by a relative lack of empirical research. Drawing on recent research, we first classify three distinct definitions of self-deception, ranging from a view that self-deception is synonymous with positive illusions to a more stringent view that self-deception requires the presence of simultaneous conflicting beliefs. We then review recent research on the possible benefits of self-deception, identifying three adaptive functions: deceiving others, social status, and psychological benefits. We suggest potential directions for future research.

 

Chance, Zoë, Ravi Dhar, Michelle Hatzis, and Kim Huskey (2015). Nudging Individuals Toward Healthier Food Choices with the 4Ps Framework for Behavior Change, in Behavioral Economics and Public Health, ed. C. Roberto and I. Kawachi.

The 4Ps framework for behavior change integrates research across disciplines to suggest ways of making desired behaviors like healthy eating less taxing. We discuss five psychological barriers to making healthy choices, then we present the 4Ps Framework for Behavior Change: Possibilities, Process, Persuasion, and Person. Finally, we apply the framework in an organizational case study at Google.

Chance, Zoë, Francesa Gino, Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely (2015). The Slow Decay and Quick Revival of Self-Deception, Frontiers in Psychology

People demonstrate an impressive ability to self-deceive, distorting misbehavior to reflect positively on themselves—for example, by cheating on a test and believing that their inflated performance reflects their true ability. But what happens to self-deception when self-deceivers must face reality, such as when taking another test on which they cannot cheat? We find that self-deception diminishes over time only when self-deceivers are repeatedly confronted with evidence of their true ability (Study 1); this learning, however, fails to make them less susceptible to future self-deception (Study 2).

Chance, Zoë, Margarita Gorlin and Ravi Dhar (2014). Why Choosing Healthy Foods is Hard, and How to Help: Presenting the 4Ps Framework for Behavior Change, Customer Needs and Solutions

The pursuit of long-term goals is often thwarted by immediate desires—a pattern particularly comon in food choices. Research in economics, psychology, and marketing has identified a rich supply of unrelated small influences or "nudges" that can help make healthy chocies easier, aligning behaiors with intentions. We organize these streams of research using a novel taxonomy, the 4Ps Framework for Behavior Change, to integrate nudges within a dual-system model of consumer choice and to provide suggestions for extensions. We conclude with a discussion of some practical challenges facing reserachers in this area.

Mogilner, Cassie, Zoë Chance and Michael I. Norton (2012). Giving Time Gives You Time, Psychological Science

Four experiments reveal a counterintuitive solution to the common problem of feeling that one does not have enough time: giving some of it away. Although people’s objective amount of time cannot be increased (there are only 24 hours in a day), this research demonstrates that people’s subjective sense of time affluence can be increased: compared with wasting time, spending time on oneself, and even gaining a windfall of “free” time, spending time on others increases feelings of time affluence. The impact of giving time on feelings of time affluence is driven by a boosted sense of self-efficacy – such that giving time makes people more willing to commit to future engagements despite their busy schedules.

Chance, Zoë, Michael I. Norton, Francesa Gino and Dan Ariely (2011). A Temporal View of the Costs and Benefits of Self-Deception, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

 

Researchers have documented many cases in which individuals rationalize their regrettable actions. Four experiments examine situations in which people go beyond merely explaining away their misconduct to actively deceiving themselves. We find that those who exploit opportunities to cheat on tests are likely to engage in self-deception, inferring that their elevated performance is a sign of intelligence. This short-term psychological benefit of self-deception, however, can come with longer-term costs: when predicting future performance, participants expect to perform equally well—a lack of awareness that persists even when these inflated expectations prove costly. We show that although people expect to cheat, they do not foresee self-deception, and that factors that reinforce the benefits of cheating enhance self-deception. More broadly, the findings of these experiments offer evidence that debates about the relative costs and benefits of self-deception are informed by adopting a temporal view that assesses the cumulative impact of self-deception over time.

Chance, Zoë and Rohit Deshpandé (2009). Putting Patients First: Social Marketing Strategies for Treating HIV in Developing Nations, Journal of Macromarketing, 29, 220-232.

It is more than mere coincidence that the highest rates of HIV occur in the world’s poorest countries. Of the over forty million people currently living with HIV, 95 percent are in the developing world. The first part of this article explores the economics of HIV and treatment from a social marketing perspective. The second part of the article uses three specific case histories of successful social marketing organizations in Africa, Asia, and South America to inductively generate a consumer (patient)-centric marketing model. The focal organizations are unique in that they all identify patient needs first, then work backwards to develop economically viable solutions. Their solutions are not without flaws, and the future of these programs remains uncertain, but the authors hope that illuminating specific cases within the consumer-centric marketing paradigm will shed light on ways in which other organizations may be able to serve the poor profitably.

Frost, Jeana H, Zoë Chance, Michael I. Norton, and Dan Ariely (2008). People Are Experience Goods: Improving Online Dating with Virtual Dates, Journal of Interactive Marketing, 22, 51-61.

We suggest that online dating frequently fails to meet user expectations-because people, unlike many commodities available for purchase online, are experience goods: Daters wish to screen potential romantic partners by experiential attributes (such as sense of humor or rapport), but online dating Web sites force them to screen by searchable attributes (such as income or religion). We demonstrate that people spend too much time searching for options online for too little payoff in offline dates (Study 1), in part because users desire information about experiential attributes, but online dating Web sites contain primarily searchable attributes (Study 2). Finally, we introduce and beta test the Virtual Date, offering potential dating partners the opportunity to acquire experiential information by exploring a virtual environment in interactions analogous to real first dates (such as going to a museum), an online intervention that led to greater liking after offline meetings (Study 3).

Manuscripts in Preparation

Proximity of Snacks to Beverages Increases Food Consumption in the Workplace: A Field Study (under review), with Ernest Baskin, Margarita Gorlin, Nathan Novemsky, and Ravi Dhar

Due to rising heath care costs resulting from obesity-related chronic conditions, employers are investing in a variety of programs to help employees stay healthy and curb their overeating. Although the provision of free snacks at the office can work against this goal,  employers are reluctant to cease this practice—rightfully so—for fear of employee backlash. We tested one way to meaningfully decrease consumption without risking backlash, through careful snack placement. Given that beverage consumption is frequent, and that snacks tend to be stocked near beverages, it is important to know whether proximity of snacks to beverages increases mindless snack consumption. In a field study measuring snacking among employees selecting beverages from locations nearer or farther from the snacks, we found that proximity accounted for a 50 percent difference in snack consumption in the workplace, particularly among men. This finding implies that employers could easily and cheaply reduce snack consumption by simply increasing the distance between the beverages and snacks provided.

 

“I Give, Therefore I Have”: Giving and Subjective Wealth (revise and resubmit), with Michael Norton

We document a surprising strategy for feeling wealthier: giving money away. We suggest that just as acts of conspicuous generosity signal wealth and power to others, they trigger feelings of subjective wealth and power in those who give—despite decreasing their objective wealth. Five studies explore the relationship between giving and subjective wealth, demonstrating that (a) donating can increase feelings of subjective wealth as much as actually receiving windfall gains does, (b) feelings of power that result from acts of giving drive the relationship between giving and subjective wealth, and (c) by fulfilling one of the goals of conspicuous consumption—signaling wealth—donating diminishes the need to signal status in other ways such as consuming brand-name products. 

Piecemeal Repayment: Steering Customers Out of the Red and Into the Black, with Grant Donnelly and Michael Norton

Credit card use in the United States has been on the rise, resulting in an average debt balance over $10,000. One explanation for this indebtedness is that repaying debt is a difficult and overwhelming task (Amar et al. 2011). Three experiments test whether allowing participants to make payments toward specific purchases can increase repayments by enhancing awareness of what is being repaid and thereby increasing feelings of impact.

Chance, Zoë and Michael I. Norton, “Decision Amnesia: Motivated Forgetting of Difficult Choices”

Previous work suggests that after a difficult decision, the selected option will appear even more appealing, and the rejected options worse, thereby reducing dissonance-induced regret. Five studies explore another viable, and perhaps common, means of coping with difficult choices: forgetting them altogether. We find that, contrary to their own expectations, individuals are most likely to forget decisions they think hardest about, since these decisions have a high risk of regret. The more difficult participants rated decisions, or the more time they spent deliberating, the less likely they were to remember what they chose. We found that not only was the outcome of a difficult decision more likely to be forgotten, the decision itself was likely to be forgotten altogether. In the moral domain, difficult decisions were again more likely to be forgotten, and socially desirable preferences wishfully misremembered. When dissonance was reduced through justification, the decision amnesia effect disappeared.