Navigating our social environment is a critical goal in both social and professional life. My work on misguided social heuristics demonstrates that some very common and habitual behaviors in our social interactions can actually backfire. For example, people humblebrag to impress (“It is so exhausting to keep up with the media requests after I published another paper!”), give backhanded compliments as feedback (“You were confident in your talk for a young woman.”), namedrop to highlight their connections (“Zuck doesn’t want me to leave Facebook yet.”), share an inside joke while excluding someone else, or mansplain to women experts even though they should be the ones listening to them.
My work documents these behaviors in real life across several domains. The premise of this line of work is that we all engage in these behaviors from time to time because we think they will be effective, but often we are wrong.
My research offers the first empirical investigations of these common behaviors, advancing the theoretical understanding of real-world phenomena, while developing practical insights for individuals and organizations. What are some common social heuristics that people engage in when they are interacting with others? What factors prompt people to engage in these particular behaviors? When and why do their social intuitions succeed or fail, and how can we improve their interpersonal decision making? My research addresses these questions, using a multi-method approach, including lab and field data.