Mary Carol Mazza
Mary Carol is a doctoral candidate in Organizational Behavior and Psychology, a joint program between Harvard Business School and Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Her research interests lie at the intersection of social psychology and behavioral economics, a nexus that affords evaluation into the mechanisms underlying cognitive biases and behavioral inconsistencies that produce difficult-to-alter deviations from rationality. With a focus on policy implications alongside advances in theory, she considers the impact of social and interpersonal factors on human behavior, preferences, judgment and decision making. Her dissertation research, a field study at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, examines several novel interventions based on psychological principles designed to encourage the purchase of healthier food items. Ultimately, she is passionate about working across disciplines with others, using psychology and what we know about human behavior and decision making to improve social issues like the current US healthcare crisis. Currently, she works with Kathleen McGinn (HBS- Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit), Anita Tucker (HBS- Technology and Operations Management unit), Steve Gortmaker (Harvard School of Public Health), and Bob Siegel (Cincinnati Children's Hospital Center for Better Health and Nutrition).
Her interdisciplinary approach to behavioral research received encouragement at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, where she earned a B.A. in Psychology and Economics with concentrations in Poverty and Women's Studies. After studying abroad in Austria, Brazil, Bolivia, and China during college, her desire to understand policy and improve societal conditions led her to return to her home state to research policy issues affecting the impoverished and disabled at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in Austin. She holds an A.M. in Social Psychology from Harvard.
Policy Bundling to Overcome Loss Aversion: A Method for Improving Legislative Outcomes
Policies that would create net benefits for society but would also involve costs frequently lack the necessary support to be enacted because losses loom larger than gains psychologically. To reduce this harmful consequence of loss aversion, we propose a new type of policy bundling technique in which related bills that have both costs and benefits are combined. Using a laboratory study, we confirm across a set of four legislative domains that this bundling technique increases support for bills that have both costs and benefits. We also demonstrate that this effect is due to changes in the psychology of decision making, rather than voters' willingness to compromise and support a bill they weakly oppose when that bill is bundled with one they strongly support.
Keywords: Decision Making;
Cost vs Benefits;
Outcome or Result;
Welfare or Wellbeing;