CBSI Workshops

Upcoming Sessions

This session has been postponed; date yet to be determined
Evidence-Based Views of Campus Diversity Work from the Institutional Perspective
Jordan Starck, Princeton University

Jordan Starck, a doctoral candidate in the Psychology Department, will speak with us about his research on issues of diversity and inclusion in higher education settings.  As we will save time to discuss the implications of his work on our own campus, this session is particularly well suited to administrators who are particularly interested in D&I work and messaging.

Over the past few years, institutions of all sorts, including those in higher education, have approached the pursuit and outward discussion of diversity as an organizational asset.  Recently, instrumental diversity rationales—how diversity can help the organization achieve its goals—have come to be more pervasive than the moral diversity rationales—increasing institutional access as a matter of human rights—which predominated on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement.  Jordan will share his research on the social psychological factors that help to explain this significant shift and to identify the consequences of this phenomenon, particularly from the point of view of the students (and their parents) that we wish to reach in our pursuit of a more diverse and inclusive student body.

Previous Sessions

Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Looking at How We Look at Students: Recognizing the Benefits of Social Deviance and the Pitfalls of Thick Skin Bias
Nate Cheek and Robin Gomila, Princeton University

Two graduate students pursuing joint PhDs in Psychology and Social Policy spoke with us about their research and opened our eyes to how we may be looking at our Princeton students in ways that don’t fully appreciate the latest in behavioral science.

While we often might think of deviance in a negative light, social norm deviance is actually a key element of social change. So does that mean the students who buck the system (and sometimes cause us grief) are actually agents of social change? Robin Gomila presented results from laboratory and field studies—including those on Princeton’s campus—that explore what leads people to violate social norms, what the psychological and behavioral consequences are of violating a norm, and how individuals’ social experiences shape the emergence and development of patterns of deviance in their life span. We discussed patterns of deviance on campus and the adaptive functions that some of these might play in fostering a vibrant and diverse community.

As a community of administrators and educators, we have given a great deal of thought to how we create a more inclusive community for low-income students.  Is it possible that, despite our best efforts, we harbor a bias that puts limits on the attention and support we are giving these students? Nate Cheek presented a series of studies examining what he has coined the “thick skin bias”—people’s belief that the hardship of poverty “toughens” low-income individuals, making them less susceptible to harm. We discussed how the thick skin bias may play out on campus and how understanding this bias further has important implications for both policy and the civility of everyday interpersonal interactions.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Group Decision Making
Leeat Yariv, Uwe E. Reinhardt Professor of Economics
Past workshops in this series have explained what we know about how individuals make decisions and the ways that we can leverage this for improved outcomes.  But often in the University setting we are not making decisions in a bubble of our own.  We work in groups, discuss in groups, deliberate in groups, decide in groups.

Leeat Yariv , the Uwe E. Reinhardt Professor of Economics, will present some of her work on group decision making, relevant to many aspects of campus life but also to administrative teamwork.  She will help us unpack how we form groups, what configurations provide optimal results, and how extreme views, free-riding, and polarization play a part.  She will also help us understand conformity and "voting with the winner" and how being mindful of each might help campus administration, particularly among the managers in the room. Lastly, she will discuss her work studying collective deliberation, which holds insights that will be interesting to people who—like it or not—need to navigate Princeton’s deliberation-prone administrative culture.  A must for anyone striving to make decisions outside a vacuum.

Suggested Reading:
Chan, J., Lizzeri, A., Suen, W. & Yariv, L. (2018), Deliberating collective decisionsThe Review of Economic Studies, 85(2), 929-963. doi: 10.1093/restud/rdx028

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Reason-Based Choice
Syon Bhanot '06, Visiting Fellow, Kahneman-Treisman Center; Assistant Professor of Economics, Swarthmore College
We assume that, when faced with a decision to make—Eating club or independent? CDHP or HMO? Action or inaction?—people take in all the available and relevant information on the issue, draw a reasoned set of conclusions about what is the best alternative, and make a deliberative decision. But as our own researchers have determined, people often make a choice and then construct a set of reasons in order to justify the choice.  Like those we are trying to steward into good decision-making, sadly we can know this and still tend to design programs and communications as though they are making reasoned decisions.  What if, instead, we met them where they were and designed for the way they truly decide?

In this workshop, Visiting Fellow at the Kahneman-Treisman Center and Assistant Professor of Economics at Swarthmore College Syon Bhanot ’06 provided evidence on the power of reason-based decision making and how we may optimize our programs and communications on campus to take advantage of these behavioral insights. We discussed the importance of issue salience, identity, and social framing.  We also looked at how can we present alternatives to take advantage of the ways the mind processes them and acts upon them. How can we make the issues facing our stakeholders—that on which we want them to act—more salient?  What kind of vivid comparisons are at our disposal? And although conventional wisdom makes us think that more information is better, when might it be a good idea to avoid conscious deliberation altogether? In discussing ways to apply such concepts as asymmetric dominance, the compromise effect, and question framing, this workshop offered ways to present alternatives to take advantage of the ways the mind processes them and acts upon them.

Suggested Reading:
Shafir, E., Simonson, I., & Tversky, A. (1993). Reason-based choice. Cognition, 49(1-2), 11-36. Doi: 10.1016/0010-0277(93)90034-S

Thursday, March 1, 2018
Cornhole, or Randomized Control Trials for Dummies
J. Nathan Matias, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Center for Information Technology Policy and Lecturer in Sociology
On a daily basis, campus administrators use a variety of quantitative methods to evaluate whether their programs or policies are working: data visualization, spreadsheets, web analytics, and even machine learning. Experimental methods, however, are sometimes seen as inaccessible or even incomprehensible. Administrators were invited to join Nathan Matias for a fun workshop that introduced the concepts of running randomized trials with human subjects and a conversation about how a variety of administrative shops on campus could incorporate them into their regular pursuits (and may already be doing without knowing it. (A/B testing, anyone?) Attendees took part in a control study while playing the backyard favorite, Cornhole. Along the way, administrators learned about inductive and deductive knowledge, predictors and outcomes, causal and correlational relationships, and potential threats to a study’s validity. This fun, hands-on session not only helped attendees improve their bean-bag throwing skills, but also introduced a way to apply experimental methods in the projects their teams undertake.

February 15, 2018
Perspective-taking and Prospect Theory: Considering Reference Points, Loss Aversion, and the Endowment Effect 
Johannes Haushofer, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs
Have you ever had to communicate to your stakeholders a change in policy?  Have you considered what they have to gain and what they have to lose?  By understanding the foundations of prospect theory—the work that earned Danny Kahneman his Nobel Prize—administrators may be positioned better to consider how the people they serve make decisions under uncertainty. In this session, attendees came to understand how individuals begin the decision-making process from different reference points and often evaluate the potential losses and gains quickly, differentially, and what program creators may consider suboptimally. Professor Johannes Haushofer presented the intertwined topics of reference points, loss aversion, and the endowment effect and helped administrators consider how they can account for these behaviors to address a number of University challenges—from considering new vendors to offering new benefits. Providing both theory and applied examples, the session allowed attendees to return to their own domains and approach policy and program changes and the necessary communication campaigns with a new set of insights.

Suggested Reading:
Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1984). Choices, Values, and Frames. American Psychologist, 39(4), 341-350. Doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.39.4.341

Datta, S., & Mullanaithan, S. (2014). Behavioral Design: A New Approach to Development Policy.  The Review of Income and Wealth, 6(1), 7-35. Doi: 10.1111/roiw.12093

What is a Survey? (And What Isn't)
December 5, 2017

In this session, we invited Ed Freeland, Associate Director of the Princeton Survey Research Center, to help administrators and researchers understand the necessary components for quality survey development, administration, and analysis.  He discussed vital considerations such as designing representative samples and weighing the relative merits of different formats and surveying tools. Ed also gave an overview of the services provided by the SRC and other campus resources to students, faculty, and staff from consulting on the design of surveys to finding the best tools to use to conduct a survey and analyze its results. The session provided both theory and applied examples that should help attendees build better surveys within their own domains.

Choice Architecture
November 7, 2017
In this session, we invited Nate Cheek from the Department of Psychology to explain behavioral insights behind why the way choices are presented and explained can influence the choices that individuals make. By way of a brief presentation from Nate, attendees gained an understanding of how the choices we make can be shaped by powerful forces such as defaults, the order in which options are presented, and the size and complexity of available options, as well as how we might experimentally test ways to make choices easier and better in a way that provides evidence for data-informed policy changes. This session was rounded out by a discussion of campus challenges that require people to make a choice between alternatives (e.g. enrolling in benefits plans; making transportation decisions; choosing among a list of suppliers; etc.) and how the way information is presented may have a systematic impact on how people feel about their choices and what they ultimately choose. Providing both theory and applied examples, the session allowed attendees to take these insights back to their own domains and apply them when they need to present options to those they serve.

Suggested Reading:
Thaler, R.H., & Sunstein, C.R. (2008). Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health Wealth, and Happiness. New Haven, Yale University Press. Chapter 5, Choice Architecture, pp. 81-100.

Johnson, E.J., et al. (2012). Beyond nudges: Tools of a choice architecture. Marketing Letters, 23(2), 487-504. Doi: 10.1007/s11002-012-9186-1

Intention-Action Gaps & Associated Behavioral Phenomena
May 5, 2017
In this session, we invited Alin Coman, from the Department of Psychology and Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, to deliver a brief presentation on Intention-Action gaps and associated behavioral phenomena. This led into a discussion of campus challenges that involve people not carrying through on what they know to be the “right” thing to do (e.g. enrolling in life insurance; turning lights off when not in use; consuming more nutritious foods; etc.). Alin’s prefacing presentation and notes from a few campus partners who face these issues were a jumping off point for other administrators to share the ways they see these gaps manifest in their own work.  The session provided both theory and applied examples that may help attendees to identify these gaps more clearly and outline potential mitigation strategies in their own domains.

Suggested Reading:
Miller, D. T., & Prentice, D. A. (2013). Psychological levers of behavior change. In E. Shafir (Ed.), The Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy (pp. 301-309). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Schwartz, J., Mochon, D., Wyper, L., Maroba, J., Patel, D., & Ariely, D. (2014). Healthier by precommitment. Psychological Science, 25(2), 538-546. doi: 10.1177/0956797613510950