Doctoral Student, nklein@ChicagoBooth.edu, (312) 613-1450
Primary Research Interests: Prosocial Behavior
Secondary Research Interests: Happiness; Brand Loyalty
Dissertation Research: The Topography of Generosity: Nonlinear Evaluations of Prosocial Actions
A person's reputation is based partly on their actions towards others. Selfish actions are evaluated negatively whereas selfless actions are evaluated positively. Our research measures impressions of the outcomes in-between these extremes to understand how varying degrees of prosociality affect reputations. A series of experiments demonstrates consistent nonlinear evaluations of prosociality whereby people evaluate selfish actions more negatively than equitable actions, but do not evaluate selfless actions markedly more favorably than merely equitable actions. This pattern reflects a monotonic evaluation of relatively selfish actions, a reputational premium given to equitable actions, and insensitivity to increasing degrees of selfless actions. Two experiments suggest that this pattern is partly explained by the spontaneous comparisons elicited by actions judged in isolation, as evaluations become more linear when generous actions are judged comparatively. We consider the generality of these results, their importance in everyday social interaction, and their implications for societal norms.
I take business education very seriously, and believe it to be a central part of our work in academia. It is an important way in which we add value to society by conveying insights gathered from decades of JDM and social psychology research to MBA students, many of whom will be in positions of power to effect change in society.