Research Summary

Current Research

by Francesca Gino


Why do we often fail to stick to our plans in our personal and professional decisions? How can we foster creativity in the workplace? What motivates employees? What's the secret to good group dynamics and high levels of team performance? In what ways are our judgments and evaluation of others inaccurate? Why are unethical practices so widespread in the workplace and in society more broadly? What weaknesses can in actuality be a point of strength in negotiation?

These questions cover a wide range of problems and issues that both individuals and organizations commonly face. Although different, these questions share something in common: answering them requires a deep understanding of human behavior and judgment. In my research, I use theories from psychology and behavioral decision research to find answers to these and related questions.

Judgment, Decision Making and Negotiation
The human mind is capable of remarkable accomplishments, but it also can be swayed in the wrong direction, predictably and by seemingly irrelevant factors. My research probes imperfections of human judgment and decision-making and traces their consequences for individual, group, and organizational outcomes. My work in this area attempts to improve our understanding of the predictable failures of the human mind and fill the gaps in our knowledge of the ways in which human judgments, decisions, and behavior can be improved, or at least nudged in the right direction. One of the areas I explored is advice taking. Advice taking requires people to weigh their own opinions and judgments against those of others. Before making an important decision - such as choosing an investment, launching a product, or selecting members for a new team - people often consult others for their opinions. Once they receive the advice, do they use it wisely? Over the years, my research on this topic has identified when and why people overweight bad advice, and when and why they discount good recommendations (e.g., Gino, 2006, 2008; Gino & Moore, 2007; Gino & Schweitzer, 2008).

Morality, Ethics and Prosocial Behavior
My work on ethical decision making and the psychology of moral judgment illustrates how even small factors can turn us away from our moral self. When and why do ordinary people cross ethical boundaries? And how can they routinely engage in dishonest acts without feeling guilty about their behavior? Do people cross ethical boundaries only for their own benefit?  My research addresses these questions in various contexts, using both laboratory and field data. The basic premise of this line of work is that even good people regularly engage in behavior that violates their own ethical principles, either because they do not realize they are behaving dishonestly (e.g., Gino & Bazerman, 2009), because they can't resist the temptation to act unethically (e.g., Mead, Baumeister, Gino, Schweitzer, & Ariely, 2009; Gino, Schweitzer, Mead, & Ariely, 2011) or because they find effective ways to overlook or rationalize their choices (e.g., Shu, Gino, & Bazerman, 2011). Healthy work and social environments depend on the ability of leaders and employees alike to spread ethical norms and values, while reducing the attractiveness of unethical misconduct. Studying how managers and their organizations can best accomplish this goal is an important realm for my research in the years to come.

Motivation, Productivity, and Creativity
My work in this area investigates how motivation and performance at the individual and group level can be boosted, and how people often misjudge the beneficial effects of performance-enhancing factors. For instance, one of my projects in this area examines the effects of learning from different types of experience and mental models on creativity, at both the individual (Miron-Spektor, Gino, & Argote, 2009) and group level (Gino, Argote, Miron-Spektor, & Todorova, 2010; Gino, Todorova, Miron-Spektor, & Argote, 2009). Some of this research has distinguished between the influence of prior experience with the task and prior experience with other members, a distinction that seems to have important consequences not only for creativity but also for performance and learning (Garvin, Edmondson, & Gino, 2008).