The best gift I've ever gotten is my education. While I have degrees in 4 seemingly different areas (psychology, finance, entrepreneurship, and European culture), almost everything I've been excited about learning has come from my research centered around human behavior. I love learning about what makes people tick, especially when those insights inspire new products and companies :)
Underappreciated Benefits of Memories
As seen in Social Cognition
This was my dissertation at Princeton, and also the research that inspired me to create Lumhaa: The Memory Jar Company. We did 3 experiments across college students, senior citizens in assisted living residents, and the "general population" to find that even 5 minutes with memory jars increases happiness, reduces loneliness, and improves psychological well-being. We also learnt that people underpredict how happy their memories can make them in the future, and especially underpredict how happy others' memories can make them in the future
Language and Movie Experiences
Participants from India and the United States with English and Hindi as their native languages answered a web questionnaire about one film clip in their native and one film clip in their non-native language. It was found that native languages inscribe higher degrees of empathy towards the film characters in balanced bilinguals, irrespective of what the bilinguals’ native language actually is and despite their language of immersion.
Rhetoric and Negotiations
Admitting bias - Aristotelian concession rhetoric - is likely to be persuasive and cause listeners to deny the bias admitted by the speaker. Study 1 showed that admitting self-serving bias led to increased interest in negotiation amongst opponents. Study 2
replicated Study 1 across affiliation (gun control), cognitive dissonance (cell phone choice), and self-serving biases (disease research funding). These findings call for the development of techniques to harness the benefits of admitting bias in conflict.
Reducing Child Marriage in India
This research aimed to examine a new technique to reduce child marriage. Farmers from Chhattisgarh would be primed with the future and death on their income tax forms, with information about benefits of delayed marriage in terms of dowry, or
reputation, or both, on the last page. It was expected that information about both dowry and
reputation will reduce child marriage the most, followed by dowry information, followed
by reputation information. These findings emphasize the fidelity of information provision
models in the field.
Participants answered questions about themselves, their past romantic relationships, and their friendships through a web questionnaire posted on Turkprime. Friend breakups were affected by a variety of demographic, cognitive, and social factors such as age, individualism of culture, race, gender, attachment styles, perceived importance of the friendship, and self-efficacy. Friend breakups were also found to be similar to romantic
breakups in terms of factors such as social support and frequency, but different in terms of
negative affect and coping mechanisms.
Cognitive Dissonance and College Choices
This research used a behavioral study and computational model simulation to show that positive associations with Princeton (the college participants were attending) rise with committing to matriculate, stay high through the Princeton experience, but then decline before graduation. These studies also highlighted the flexibility of implicit associations both in terms of how drastically and quickly they can change.
Culture and Ownership
Through a web questionnaire, participants from USA and India answered how much they would be
willing to spend to buy lottery tickets for themselves and for their mothers or how much
they would be willing to sell the two tickets for. It was found that the endowment effect
for tickets owned by mothers is the same as that for the self for Indian participants but
less than that for the self in American participants. These findings highlight the effect of close relationships and cultural differences on the magnitude of endowment effect.
This is your sign to go beyond the lab
Every company I've ever created first began as an insight from a psychology experiment. And I truly believe that erasing the line between "academics" and "businesspeople" will change the world. So if you're one of those "academics" with an insight that could help our people or planet, please consider building something around it instead of just writing a paper about it. The world will thank you for it.