Ovul Sezer

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Doctoral Student

Ovul Sezer is a doctoral candidate in the Organizational Behavior Unit at the Harvard Business School. In her main stream of research, she focuses on how the ways that people present themselves influence interpersonal interactions and behavioral outcomes. In particular, she studies antecedents and consequences of self-presentation, explaining how self-presentational motives influence behavior. Broadly, she uses self-presentational perspective to offer insight into leadership, decision-making, negotiations and behavior change.

Ovul graduated with honors from Harvard University with an A.B in Applied Mathematics.

Publications

Journal Articles

  1. Ethical Blind Spots: Explaining Unintentional Unethical Behavior

    Ovul Sezer, F. Gino and Max H. Bazerman

    People view themselves as more ethical, fair, and objective than others, yet often act against their moral compass. This paper reviews recent research on unintentional unethical behavior and provides an overview of the conditions under which ethical blind spots lead good people to cross ethical boundaries. First, we present the psychological processes that cause individuals to behave unethically without their own awareness. Next, we examine the conditions that lead people to fail to accurately assess others' unethical behavior. We argue that future research needs to move beyond a descriptive framework and focus on finding empirically testable strategies to mitigate unethical behavior.

    Citation:

    Sezer, Ovul, F. Gino, and Max H. Bazerman. "Ethical Blind Spots: Explaining Unintentional Unethical Behavior." Special Issue on Morality and Ethics edited by Francesca Gino and Shaul Salvi. Current Opinion in Psychology 6 (December 2015): 77–81. View Details

Working Papers

  1. Humblebragging: A Distinct—and Ineffective—Self-Presentation Strategy

    Ovul Sezer, Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton

    Humblebragging—bragging masked by a complaint—is a distinct and, given the rise of social media, increasingly ubiquitous form of self-promotion. We show that although people often choose to humblebrag when motivated to make a good impression, it is an ineffective self-promotional strategy. Five studies offer both correlational and causal evidence that humblebragging has both global costs—reducing liking and perceived sincerity—and specific costs: it is even ineffective in signaling the specific trait that a person wants to promote. Moreover, humblebragging is less effective than simply complaining, because complainers are at least seen as sincere. Despite people's belief that combining bragging and complaining confers the benefits of both self-promotion strategies, humblebragging fails to pay off.

    Keywords: Humblebragging; impression management; self-promotion; sincerity; Perception; Marketing; Trust; Personal Development and Career;

    Citation:

    Sezer, Ovul, Francesca Gino, and Michael I. Norton. "Humblebragging: A Distinct—and Ineffective—Self-Presentation Strategy." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 15-080, April 2015. View Details

    Research Summary

  1. Overview

    by Ovul Sezer

    Ovul Sezer focuses on how the ways that people present themselves influence interpersonal interactions and behavioral outcomes. In particular, she studies antecedents and consequences of self-presentation, explaining how self-presentational motives influence behavior. Broadly, she uses self-presentational perspective to offer insight into leadership, decision-making, negotiations and behavior change.

    Keywords: Self-presentation; Performance; Judgment and Decision Making; negotiation;

    Teaching

  1. Overview

    by Ovul Sezer

    Course Instructor, Economics Sophomore Tutorial: Psychology and Economics, Harvard College (2012-2015)
    Course Assistant, Noticing: A Leadership Challenge, Harvard Kennedy School (Winter, 2015)
    Teaching Fellow, Linear Algebra, Harvard College (Fall, 2011)
    Teaching Fellow, Multivariable Calculus, Harvard College (Spring, 2011)
  1. “No One Likes the Humblebrag" selected for the Harvard Business School Alumni Bulletin, Year in Ideas, 2016.

  2. Winner of the 2016 Society of Personality and Social Psychology Graduate Student Travel Award.

  3. Received the Harvard University Derek Bok Center Certificate of Distinction and Excellence in Teaching in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

  4. Received a Next Generation Grant by Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation in 2013.

Area of Study

  • Organizational Behavior