Context dependence in social decision-making

Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Speaker: Mina Cikara, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

Talk title: Context dependence in social decision-making

Abstract: Many of society’s most significant social decisions are made over sets of individuals: for example, evaluating a collection of job candidates when making a hiring decision. Rational theories of choice dictate that decision makers’ preferences between any two options should remain the same irrespective of the number or quality of other options. And yet, people’s preferences for each option in a choice set shift in predictable ways as a function of the available alternatives. These violations are well documented in consumer behavior contexts: for example, the decoy effect, in which introducing a third inferior product changes consumers’ preferences for two original products. I will discuss two projects which shift the target of inquiry from products to people, and aim to harness insights from computational models of decision-making to examine how choice set construction can be used to change social categorization and intergroup behavior.

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