Michael I. Norton

Professor of Business Administration

Michael I. Norton is a Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing Unit at the Harvard Business School.

He is the co-author - with Elizabeth Dunn - of the new book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending (Simon & Schuster).

Michael I. Norton is a Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing Unit at the Harvard Business School. He holds a B.A. in Psychology and English from Williams College and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton University. Prior to joining HBS, Professor Norton was a Fellow at the MIT Media Lab and MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

He is the co-author - with Elizabeth Dunn - of the new book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending (Simon & Schuster).

His work has been published in a number of leading academic journals, including Science, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Psychological Science, and the Journal of Consumer Research, and has been covered in media outlets such as the Economist, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He has appeared on National Public Radio, CBS, Fox, and MSNBC, and written op-eds for the New York Times, Forbes, and the Los Angeles Times.

His research has twice been featured in the New York Times Magazine Year in Ideas issue, in 2007 (Ambiguity Promotes Liking) and 2009 (The Counterfeit Self). His "The IKEA Effect: When Labor Leads to Love" was featured in Harvard Business Review's Breakthrough Ideas for 2009. In 2010, he won the Theoretical Innovation Prize from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology; in 2011, he won the SAGE Young Scholars Award from the Foundation for Social and Personality Psychology; in 2012, he was selected for Wired Magazine’s Smart List as one of “50 People Who Will Change the World.”

At HBS, he teaches the first-year MBA course, FIELD, and heads the Strategic Marketing Management executive program.

Books

  1. Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending

    If you think money can't buy happiness, you're not spending it right. Two rising stars in behavioral science explain how money can buy happiness—if you follow five core principles of smarter spending. Happy Money offers a tour of new research on the science of spending. Most people recognize that they need professional advice on how to earn, save, and invest their money. When it comes to spending that money, most people just follow their intuitions. But scientific research shows that those intuitions are often wrong.
    Happy Money explains why you can get more happiness for your money by following five principles, from choosing experiences over stuff to spending money on others. And the five principles can be used not only by individuals, but by companies seeking to create happier employees and provide "happier products" to their customers. Dunn and Norton show how companies from Google to Pepsi to Charmin have put these ideas into action. Along the way, the authors describe new research that reveals luxury cars often provide no more pleasure than economy models, that commercials can enhance the enjoyment of watching television, and that residents of many cities frequently miss out on inexpensive pleasures in their hometowns. By the end of this book, readers will ask themselves one simple question whenever they reach for their wallets: Am I getting the biggest happiness bang for my buck?

    Keywords: Happiness; Spending;

    Citation:

    Dunn, Elizabeth, and Michael Norton. Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. Simon & Schuster, 2013. View Details

Journal Articles

  1. Contingent Match Incentives Increase Donations

    We propose a new means by which non-profits can induce donors to give today and commit to giving in the future: contingent match incentives, in which matching is made contingent on the percentage of others who give (e.g., "if X% of others give, we will match all donations"). A field experiment shows that a 75% contingent match (where matches "kick in" only if 75% of others donate) is most effective in increasing commitment to recurring donations. An online experiment reveals that the 75% contingent match drives commitment to recurring donations because it simultaneously provides social proof yet offers a low enough target that it remains plausible that the match will occur. A final online experiment demonstrates that the effectiveness of the 75% contingent match extends to one-time donations. We discuss the practical and theoretical implications of contingent matches for managers and academics.

    Keywords: matching donations; social proof; prosocial behavior; charitable giving; plausibility; Motivation and Incentives; Giving and Philanthropy;

    Citation:

    Anik, Lalin, Michael I. Norton, and Dan Ariely. "Contingent Match Incentives Increase Donations." Journal of Marketing Research (JMR) (forthcoming). View Details
  2. Why We Think We Can't Dance: Theory of Mind and Children's Desire to Perform

    Theory of Mind (ToM) allows children to achieve success in the social world by understanding others’ minds. A study with 3–12 year olds, however, demonstrates that gains in ToM are linked to decreases in children’s desire to engage in performative behaviors associated with health and well-being—such as singing and dancing. One hundred and fifty nine middle-class children from diverse backgrounds in a northeastern USA metropolitan area completed the study in 2011. The development of ToM is associated with decreases in self-esteem, which in turn predicts decreases in children’s willingness to perform. This shift away from performance begins at age 4 (when ToM begins to develop), years before children enter puberty.

    Keywords: Theory of Mind, Performance, Self-Esteem, Social Norms; Behavior; Attitudes; Performance; Cognition and Thinking;

    Citation:

    Chaplin, Lan Nguyen, and Michael I. Norton. "Why We Think We Can't Dance: Theory of Mind and Children's Desire to Perform." Child Development (forthcoming). View Details
  3. The Allure of Unknown Outcomes: Exploring the Role of Uncertainty in the Preference for Potential

    Influence practitioners often highlight a target's achievements (e.g., “she is the city's top-rated chef”), but recent research reveals that highlighting a target's potential (e.g., “she could become the city's top-rated chef”) can be more effective. We examine whether the uncertainty inherent in potential is crucial to its appeal by exploring whether the preference for potential depends on individual and situational differences in tolerance for uncertainty. In two studies in two different categories (comedians and restaurants), we measure and manipulate tolerance for uncertainty to show that the preference for potential emerges when tolerance for uncertainty is high but not low. We further show that the uncertainty surrounding potential fosters greater interest and deeper processing when tolerance for uncertainty is high, which in turn promotes more favorable reactions. Thus, the current research reveals when and why emphasizing potential is more effective than emphasizing achievement, illuminating the key role of uncertainty in driving this effect.

    Keywords: Risk and Uncertainty; Forecasting and Prediction; Performance Evaluation;

    Citation:

    Kupor, Daniella, Zakary L. Tormala, and Michael I. Norton. "The Allure of Unknown Outcomes: Exploring the Role of Uncertainty in the Preference for Potential." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (forthcoming). (Due November 2014.) View Details
  4. The (Perceived) Meaning of Spontaneous Thoughts

    Spontaneous thoughts, the output of a broad category of uncontrolled and inaccessible higher-order mental processes, arise frequently in everyday life. The seeming randomness by which spontaneous thoughts arise might give people good reason to dismiss them as meaningless. We suggest that it is precisely the lack of control over and access to the processes by which they arise that leads people to perceive spontaneous thoughts to reveal meaningful self-insight. Consequently, spontaneous thoughts potently influence judgment. A series of experiments provides evidence supporting two hypotheses. First, we hypothesize that the more a thought is perceived to be spontaneous, the more it is perceived to provide meaningful self-insight. Participants perceived more spontaneous kinds of thought to reveal greater self-insight than more controlled kinds of thought in Study 1 (e.g., intuition versus deliberation), and perceived thoughts with the same content and target to reveal greater self-insight when spontaneously than deliberately generated in Studies 2 and 3 (i.e., childhood memories and impressions formed, respectively). Second, we hypothesize that greater self-insight attributed to thoughts that are (perceived to be) spontaneous leads those thoughts to more potently influence judgment. Participants felt more sexually attracted to an attractive person whom they thought of spontaneously than deliberately in Study 4, and reported their commitment to a current romantic relationship would be more affected by the spontaneous than deliberate recollection of a good or bad experience with their partner in Study 5.
    Much human thought arises unbidden, spontaneously intruding upon consciousness. The thought and name of a former lover might come to mind during dinner with one's spouse. Or worse, it may be blurted out during an intimate moment. Because no trace of the past lover is present, the thought lacks an apparent cause. In the latter case it almost certainly occurs without intent, given its potential consequences. The seeming randomness of such thoughts might provide reason to dismiss them as the wanderings of a restless mind. We propose that it is precisely the lack of control over and access to the process by which spontaneous thoughts come to mind that leads them to be perceived to reveal special self-insight. Drawing on previous theory and research, we propose that the greater self-insight they are attributed leads spontaneous thoughts to exert a greater impact on attitudes and behavior than similar deliberate thoughts.
    Compare a wife's thought of a former lover while perusing her yearbook to that same thought during an intimate moment with her husband. In the former case, the reason for the production of that thought is clear ("I thought of him because I looked at his picture while reminiscing about the past"). In the latter case, she lacks both control over the thought and access to its origin. We suggest that its apparent spontaneity should lead her to attribute it special meaning ("Why would I think of him in this moment unless it is important?"), and it should consequently exert a greater influence on her judgment ("I must still have feelings for him"). In this paper, we report a series of five studies examining how the perceived spontaneity of thought influences the extent to which it is believed to yield meaningful self-insight and influences judgment.

    Keywords: Spontaneous Thoughts; Self-Insight; Meaning; attribution; Judgment and Decision Making; Decision Making; Cognition and Thinking;

    Citation:

    Morewedge, Carey K., Colleen Giblin, and Michael I. Norton. "The (Perceived) Meaning of Spontaneous Thoughts." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143, no. 4 (August 2014): 1742–1754. View Details
  5. The Not-So-Common-Wealth of Australia: Evidence for a Cross-Cultural Desire for a More Equal Distribution of Wealth.

    Recent evidence suggests that Americans underestimate wealth inequality in the United States and favor a more equal wealth distribution (Norton & Ariely, 2011). Does this pattern reflect ideological dynamics unique to the United States, or is the phenomenon evident in other developed economies—such as Australia? We assessed Australians' perceived and ideal wealth distributions and compared them to the actual wealth distribution. Although the United States and Australia differ in the degree of actual wealth inequality and in cultural narratives around economic mobility, the Australian data closely replicated the United States findings. Misperceptions of wealth inequality as well as preferences for more equal distributions may be common across developed economies. In addition, beliefs about wealth distribution only weakly predicted support for raising the minimum wage, suggesting that attitudes toward inequality may not translate into preferences for redistributive policies.

    Keywords: Wealth; Equality and Inequality; Australia; United States;

  6. Emodiversity and the Emotional Ecosystem

    Bridging psychological research exploring emotional complexity and research in the natural sciences on the measurement of biodiversity, we introduce—and demonstrate the benefits of—emodiversity: the variety and relative abundance of the emotions that humans experience. Two cross-sectional studies across more than 37,000 respondents demonstrate that emodiversity is an independent predictor of mental and physical health—such as decreased depression and doctor's visits—over and above mean levels of positive and negative emotion. These results remained robust after controlling for gender, age, and the five main dimensions of personality. Emodiversity is a practically important and previously unidentified metric for assessing the health of the human emotional ecosystem.

    Keywords: Health; Diversity Characteristics; Emotions;

    Citation:

    Quoidbach, Jordi, June Gruber, Moira Mikolajczak, Alexsandr Kogan, Ilios Kotsou, and Michael I. Norton. "Emodiversity and the Emotional Ecosystem." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (forthcoming). View Details
  7. Getting the Most Out of Giving: Concretely Framing a Prosocial Goal Maximizes Happiness

    Across six field and laboratory experiments, participants assigned a more concretely-framed prosocial goal (e.g., making someone smile or increasing recycling) felt happier and reported creating greater personal happiness after performing a goal-directed act of kindness than did those who were assigned a functionally similar, but more abstractly-framed, prosocial goal (e.g., making someone happy or saving the environment). Moreover, mediation analyses revealed that this effect was driven by differences in the size of the gap between participants' expectations and reality. Compared to those who pursued an abstractly-framed prosocial goal, those who pursued a concretely-framed goal perceived that the actual outcome of their goal-directed efforts more accurately matched their expectations, causing them to experience a greater boost in happiness. Evidence that participants are unable to predict this effect, believing that pursuing abstractly-framed prosocial goals would have either an equal or greater positive impact on their own happiness, is also presented.

    Keywords: happiness; prosocial behavior; goal framing; affective forecasting; Goals and Objectives; Happiness; Giving and Philanthropy;

    Citation:

    Rudd, Melanie, Jennifer Aaker, and Michael I. Norton. "Getting the Most Out of Giving: Concretely Framing a Prosocial Goal Maximizes Happiness." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (forthcoming). View Details
  8. A 'Present' for the Future: The Unexpected Value of Rediscovery

    Although documenting everyday activities may seem trivial, four studies reveal that creating records of the present generates unexpected benefits by allowing future rediscoveries. In Study 1, we use a "time capsule" paradigm to show that individuals underestimate the extent to which rediscovering experiences from the past will be curiosity-provoking and interesting in the future. In Studies 2 and 3, we find that people are particularly likely to underestimate the pleasure of rediscovering ordinary, mundane experiences compared to rediscovering extraordinary experiences. Finally, Study 4 demonstrates that underestimating the pleasure of rediscovery leads to time-inconsistent choices: individuals forgo opportunities to document the present but then prefer to rediscover those moments in the future. Underestimating the value of rediscovery is linked to people's erroneous faith in their memory of everyday events. By documenting the present, people provide themselves with the opportunity to rediscover mundane moments that may otherwise have been forgotten.

    Keywords: History; Information Management; Cognition and Thinking;

    Citation:

    Zhang, Ting, Tami Kim, Alison Wood Brooks, Francesca Gino, and Michael I. Norton. "A 'Present' for the Future: The Unexpected Value of Rediscovery." Psychological Science (in press). View Details
  9. Matchmaking Promotes Happiness

    Four studies document and explore the psychology underlying people's proclivity to connect people to each other—to play "matchmaker." First, Study 1 shows that chronic matchmaking is associated with higher well-being. Studies 2 and 3 show that matching others on the basis of how well they will get along leads to a greater increase in happiness and is more intrinsically rewarding than other tasks (e.g., deciding which people would not get along). Study 4 investigates a moderator of the rewarding nature of matchmaking: the type of connection. We show that bridging ties are relatively more attractive than bonding ties: the more unlikely the match, the more rewarding it is. Taken together, these studies provide correlational and causal evidence for the role of matchmaking in promoting happiness.

    Keywords: Happiness; Relationships;

    Citation:

    Anik, Lalin, and Michael I. Norton. "Matchmaking Promotes Happiness." Social Psychological & Personality Science 5, no. 6 (August 2014): 644–652. View Details
  10. Prosocial Spending and Happiness: Using Money to Benefit Others Pays Off

    While a great deal of research has shown that people with more money are somewhat happier than people with less money, our research demonstrates that how people spend their money also matters for their happiness. In particular, both correlational and experimental studies show that people who spend money on others report greater happiness. The benefits of such prosocial spending emerge among adults around the world, and the warm glow of giving can be detected even in toddlers. These benefits are most likely to emerge when giving satisfies one or more core human needs (relatedness, competence, and autonomy). The rewards of prosocial spending are observable in both the brain and the body and can potentially be harnessed by organizations and governments.

    Keywords: money; prosocial spending; happiness; well-being; Happiness; Money; Spending; Welfare or Wellbeing; Giving and Philanthropy;

    Citation:

    Dunn, Elizabeth W., Lara B. Aknin, and Michael I. Norton. "Prosocial Spending and Happiness: Using Money to Benefit Others Pays Off." Current Directions in Psychological Science 23, no. 1 (February 2014): 41–47. View Details
  11. The Emergence of 'Us and Them' in 80 Lines of Code: Modeling Group Genesis in Homogeneous Populations

    Psychological explanations of group genesis often require population heterogeneity in identity or other characteristics, whether deep (e.g., religion) or superficial (e.g., eye color). We use game-theoretical agent-based models to explore group genesis in homogeneous populations and find robust group formation with just two basic principles: reciprocity and transitivity. These emergent groups demonstrate in-group cooperation and out-group defection, even though agents lack common identity. Group formation increases individual payoffs, and group structure is robust to varying levels of reciprocity and transitivity. Increasing population size increases group size more than group number, and manipulating baseline trust in a population has predictable effects on group genesis. An interactive online demonstration enables first-hand exploration of the parameter space (www.mpmlab.org/groups), and available source code (supplementary materials) provides a guide to implementing psychological agent-based models.

    Keywords: Groups and Teams;

    Citation:

    Gray, Kurt, David G. Rand, Eyal Ert, Kevin Lewis, Steve Hershman, and Michael I. Norton. "The Emergence of 'Us and Them' in 80 Lines of Code: Modeling Group Genesis in Homogeneous Populations." Psychological Science 25, no. 4 (April 2014): 982–990. View Details
  12. Paying It Forward: Generalized Reciprocity and the Limits of Generosity

    When people are the victims of greed or recipients of generosity, their first impulse is often to pay back that behavior in kind. What happens when people cannot reciprocate, but instead have the chance to be cruel or kind to someone entirely different—to pay it forward? In five experiments, participants received greedy, equal, or generous divisions of money or labor from an anonymous person, and then divided additional resources with a new anonymous person. While equal treatment was paid forward in kind, greed was paid forward more than generosity. This asymmetry was driven by negative affect, such that a positive affect intervention disrupted the tendency to pay greed forward. Implications for models of generalized reciprocity are discussed.

    Keywords: Moral Sensibility; Behavior; Situation or Environment; Attitudes;

    Citation:

    Gray, Kurt, Adrian F. Ward, and Michael I. Norton. "Paying It Forward: Generalized Reciprocity and the Limits of Generosity." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143, no. 1 (February 2014): 247–254. View Details
  13. Thought Calibration: How Thinking Just the Right Amount Increases One’s Influence and Appeal

    Previous research suggests that people draw inferences about their attitudes and preferences based on their own thoughtfulness. The current research explores how observing other individuals make decisions more or less thoughtfully can shape perceptions of those individuals and their decisions, and ultimately impact observers' willingness to be influenced by them. Three studies suggest that observing others make more (versus less) thoughtful decisions generates more positive reactions when a choice is difficult, but more negative reactions when a choice is easy. In essence, people perceive the quality of others' decisions to be greater when other individuals engage in the right amount of thinking for the situation. These assessments then affect observers' own decisions and openness to influence.

    Keywords: thoughtfulness; attitudes; liking; social influence; Decisions; Attitudes; Cognition and Thinking; Power and Influence;

    Citation:

    Kupor, Daniella, Zakary L. Tormala, Michael I. Norton, and Derek D. Rucker. "Thought Calibration: How Thinking Just the Right Amount Increases One’s Influence and Appeal." Social Psychological & Personality Science 5, no. 3 (April 2014): 263–270. View Details
  14. 'Last-place Aversion': Evidence and Redistributive Implications

    We present evidence from laboratory experiments showing that individuals are "last-place averse." Participants choose gambles with the potential to move them out of last place that they reject when randomly placed in other parts of the distribution. In modified-dictator games, participants randomly placed in second-to-last place are the most likely to give money to the person one rank above them instead of the person one rank below. Last-place aversion suggests that low-income individuals might oppose redistribution because it could differentially help the group just beneath them. Using survey data, we show that individuals making just above the minimum wage are the most likely to oppose its increase. Similarly, in the General Social Survey, those above poverty but below median income support redistribution significantly less than their background characteristics would predict.

    Keywords: Income Characteristics; Rank and Position; Attitudes;

    Citation:

    Kuziemko, Ilyana, Ryan W. Buell, Taly Reich, and Michael Norton. "'Last-place Aversion': Evidence and Redistributive Implications." Quarterly Journal of Economics 129, no. 1 (February 2014): 105–149. View Details
  15. Give What You Get: Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus Apella) and 4-Year-Old Children Pay Forward Positive and Negative Outcomes to Conspecifics.

    The breadth of human generosity is unparalleled in the natural world, and much research has explored the mechanisms underlying and motivating human prosocial behavior. Recent work has focused on the spread of prosocial behavior within groups through paying-it-forward, a case of human prosociality in which a recipient of generosity pays a good deed forward to a third individual, rather than back to the original source of generosity. While research shows that human adults do indeed pay forward generosity, little is known about the origins of this behavior. Here, we show that both capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) and 4-year-old children pay forward positive and negative outcomes in an identical testing paradigm. These results suggest that a cognitively simple mechanism present early in phylogeny and ontogeny leads to paying forward positive, as well as negative, outcomes.

    Keywords: Prosociality; reciprocity; cooperation; Gratitude; Affect; Behavior;

    Citation:

    Leimgruber, Kristin L., Adrian F. Ward, Jane Widness, Michael I. Norton, Kristina R. Olson, Kurt Gray, and Laurie R. Santos. "Give What You Get: Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus Apella) and 4-Year-Old Children Pay Forward Positive and Negative Outcomes to Conspecifics." PLoS ONE 9, no. 1 (January 29, 2014). View Details
  16. Rituals Alleviate Grieving for Loved Ones, Lovers, and Lotteries

    Three experiments explored the impact of mourning rituals after losses—of loved ones, lovers, and lotteries—on mitigating grief. Participants who were directed to reflect on past rituals or who were assigned to complete novel rituals after experiencing losses reported lower levels of grief. Increased feelings of control after rituals mediated the link between use of rituals and reduced grief after losses, and the benefits of rituals accrued not only to individuals who professed a belief in rituals' effectiveness but also those who did not. Although the specific rituals in which people engage after losses vary widely by culture and religion—and among our participants—our results suggest a common psychological mechanism underlying their effectiveness: regained feelings of control.

    Keywords: Loss; Practice; Emotions;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., and Francesca Gino. "Rituals Alleviate Grieving for Loved Ones, Lovers, and Lotteries." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143, no. 1 (February 2014): 266–272. View Details
  17. Children Develop a Veil of Fairness

    Previous research suggests that children develop an increasing concern with fairness over the course of development. Research with adults suggests that the concern with fairness has at least two distinct components: a desire to be fair and a desire to signal to others that they are fair. We explore whether children's developing concern with behaving fairly towards others may in part reflect a developing concern with appearing fair to others. In Experiments 1-2, most 6- to 8-year-old children behaved fairly towards others when an experimenter was aware of their choices; fewer children opted to behave fairly, however, when they could be unfair to others yet appear fair to the experimenter. In Experiment 3, we explored the development of this concern with appearing fair by using a wider age range (6- to 11-year-olds) and a different method. In this experiment, children chose how to assign a good or bad prize to themselves and another participant by either unilaterally deciding who would get each prize or by using a fair procedure—flipping a coin in private. Older children were much more likely to flip the coin than younger children, yet were just as likely as younger children to assign themselves the good prize by reporting winning the coin flip more than chance would dictate. Overall, the results of these experiments suggest that as children grow older they become increasingly concerned with appearing fair to others, which may explain some of their increased tendency to behave fairly.

    Keywords: fairness; inequity aversion; reputation; social signaling; social cognitive development; Communication Intention and Meaning; Fairness; Age; Reputation; Growth and Development; Cognition and Thinking;

    Citation:

    Shaw, Alex, Natalia Montinari, Marco Piovesan, Kristina Olson, Francesca Gino, and Michael I. Norton. "Children Develop a Veil of Fairness." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143, no. 1 (February 2014): 363–375. View Details
  18. Botsourcing and Outsourcing: Robot, British, Chinese, and German Workers Are for Thinking—Not Feeling—Jobs

    Technological innovations have produced robots capable of jobs that, until recently, only humans could perform. The present research explores the psychology of "botsourcing"—the replacement of human jobs by robots—while examining how understanding botsourcing can inform the psychology of outsourcing—the replacement of jobs in one country by humans from other countries. We test four related hypotheses across six experiments: (1) Given people's lay theories about the capacities for cognition and emotion for robots and humans, workers will express more discomfort with botsourcing when they consider losing jobs that require emotion versus cognition; (2) people will express more comfort with botsourcing when jobs are framed as requiring cognition versus emotion; (3) people will express more comfort with botsourcing for jobs that do require emotion if robots appear to convey more emotion; and (4) people prefer to outsource cognition-oriented versus emotion-oriented jobs to other humans who are perceived as more versus less robotic. These results have theoretical implications for understanding social cognition about both humans and nonhumans and practical implications for the increasingly botsourced and outsourced economy.

    Keywords: Technology; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Emotions; Cognition and Thinking;

    Citation:

    Waytz, Adam, and Michael I. Norton. "Botsourcing and Outsourcing: Robot, British, Chinese, and German Workers Are for Thinking—Not Feeling—Jobs." Emotion 14, no. 2 (April 2014): 434–444. View Details
  19. Prosocial Spending and Well-Being: Cross-Cultural Evidence for a Psychological Universal

    This research provides the first support for a possible psychological universal: Human beings around the world derive emotional benefits from using their financial resources to help others (prosocial spending). In Study 1, survey data from 136 countries were examined and showed that prosocial spending is associated with greater happiness around the world, in poor and rich countries alike. To test for causality, in Studies 2a and 2b, we used experimental methodology, demonstrating that recalling a past instance of prosocial spending has a causal impact on happiness across countries that differ greatly in terms of wealth(Canada, Uganda, and India). Finally, in Study 3, participants in Canada and South Africa randomly assigned to buy items for charity reported higher levels of positive affect than participants assigned to buy the same items for themselves, even when this prosocial spending did not provide an opportunity to build or strengthen social ties. Our findings suggest that the reward experienced from helping others may be deeply ingrained in human nature, emerging in diverse cultural and economic contexts.

    Keywords: prosocial spending; happiness; psychological universal; prosocial behavior; well-being; Happiness; Spending; Giving and Philanthropy; Canada; Uganda; South Africa; India;

    Citation:

    Aknin, Lara B., Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, Elizabeth W. Dunn, John F. Helliwell, Justine Burns, Robert Biswas-Diener, Imelda Kemeza, Paul Nyende, Claire Ashton-James, and Michael I. Norton. "Prosocial Spending and Well-Being: Cross-Cultural Evidence for a Psychological Universal." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 104, no. 4 (April 2013): 635–652. View Details
  20. Does Social Connection Turn Good Deeds into Good Feelings? On the Value of Putting the 'Social' in Prosocial Spending

    When are the emotional benefits of generous behavior most likely to emerge? In three studies, we demonstrate that the hedonic benefits of generous spending are most likely when spending promotes positive social connection. Study 1 shows that people feel happier after giving more to charity, but only when they give to someone connected with the cause. Studies 2 and 3 show that the emotional rewards associated with giving to friends or acquaintances are greatest in situations that facilitate social connection. Thus, social connection may be important for turning good deeds into good feelings, and maximizing connectedness between givers and recipients may enhance the emotional payoff of charitable initiatives.

    Keywords: happiness; money; prosocial spending; social connection; well-being; donations; charitable giving; warm glow; social relationships; gift giving; Happiness; Relationships; Giving and Philanthropy; Society;

    Citation:

    Aknin, Lara B., Elizabeth W. Dunn, Gillian M. Sandstrom, and Michael I. Norton. "Does Social Connection Turn Good Deeds into Good Feelings? On the Value of Putting the 'Social' in Prosocial Spending." International Journal of Happiness and Development 1, no. 2 (2013): 155–171. View Details
  21. Making a Difference Matters: Impact Unlocks the Emotional Benefits of Prosocial Spending

    When does giving lead to happiness? Here, we present two studies demonstrating that the emotional benefits of spending money on others (prosocial spending) are unleashed when givers are aware of their positive impact. In Study 1, an experiment using real charitable appeals, giving more money to charity led to higher levels of happiness only when participants gave to causes that explained how these funds are used to make a difference in the life of a recipient. In Study 2, participants were asked to reflect upon a time they spent money on themselves or on others in a way that either had a positive impact or had no impact. Participants who recalled a time they spent on others that had a positive impact were happiest. Together, these results suggest that highlighting the impact of prosocial spending can increase the emotional rewards of giving.

    Keywords: prosocial spending; prosocial impact; subjective well being; happiness; donations; Happiness; Giving and Philanthropy;

    Citation:

    Aknin, Lara B., Elizabeth W. Dunn, Ashley V. Whillans, Adam M. Grant, and Michael I. Norton. "Making a Difference Matters: Impact Unlocks the Emotional Benefits of Prosocial Spending." Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 88 (April 2013): 90–95. View Details
  22. Prosocial Bonuses Increase Employee Satisfaction and Team Performance

    In three field studies, we explore the impact of providing employees and teammates with prosocial bonuses, a novel type of bonus spent on others rather than on oneself. In Experiment 1, we show that prosocial bonuses in the form of donations to charity lead to happier and more satisfied employees at an Australian bank. In Experiments 2a and 2b, we show that prosocial bonuses in the form of expenditures on teammates lead to better performance in both sports teams in Canada and pharmaceutical sales teams in Belgium. These results suggest that a minor adjustment to employee bonuses—shifting the focus from the self to others—can produce measurable benefits for employees and organizations.

    Keywords: Satisfaction; Groups and Teams; Performance; Compensation and Benefits; Giving and Philanthropy; Banking Industry; Sports Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry; Canada; Belgium; Australia;

    Citation:

    Anik, Lalin, Lara B. Aknin, Elizabeth W. Dunn, Michael I. Norton, and Jordi Quoidbach. "Prosocial Bonuses Increase Employee Satisfaction and Team Performance." PLoS ONE 8, no. 9 (September 2013): 1–8. View Details
  23. Unexpected Benefits of Deciding by Mind Wandering

    The mind wanders, even when people are attempting to make complex decisions. We suggest that such mind wandering—allowing one's thoughts to wander until the "correct" choice comes to mind—can positively impact people's feelings about their decisions. We compare post-choice satisfaction from choices made by mind wandering to reason based choices and randomly assigned outcomes. Participants chose a poster by mind wandering or deliberating—or were randomly assigned a poster. Whereas forecasters predicted that participants who chose by mind wandering would evaluate their outcome as inferior to participants who deliberated (Experiment 1), participants who used mind wandering as a decision strategy evaluated their choice just as positively as did participants who used deliberate choice (Experiment 2). In some cases, people can spare themselves the trouble of deliberation and instead "decide by mind wandering" yet experience no decrease in satisfaction.

    Keywords: Decisions; Satisfaction; Decision Choices and Conditions; Cognition and Thinking;

    Citation:

    Giblin, Colleen, Carey K. Morewedge, and Michael I. Norton. "Unexpected Benefits of Deciding by Mind Wandering." Frontiers in Psychology: Perception Science (September 6, 2013). View Details
  24. Converging to the Lowest Common Denominator in Physical Health

    Objective: This research examines how access to information on peer health behaviors affects one's own health behavior. Methods: We report the results of a randomized field experiment in a large corporation in which we introduced walkstations (treadmills attached to desks that enable employees to walk while working), provided employees with feedback on their own and their co-workers' usage, and assessed usage over six months. We report how we determined our sample size, as well as all data exclusions, manipulations, and measures in the study. Results: Walkstation usage declined most when participants were given information on co-workers' usage levels, due to a tendency to converge to the lowest common denominator—their least-active co-workers. Conclusion: This research demonstrates the impact of the lowest common denominator in physical activity: people's activity levels tend to converge to the lowest-performing members of their groups. This research adds to our understanding of the factors that determine when the behavior of others impacts our own behavior for the better—and the worse.

    Keywords: Information; Behavior; Decision Choices and Conditions; Health; Health Industry;

    Citation:

    John, Leslie, and Michael I. Norton. "Converging to the Lowest Common Denominator in Physical Health." Special Issue on Health Psychology Meets Behavioral Economics. Health Psychology 32, no. 9 (September 2013): 1023–1028. View Details
  25. An fMRI Investigation of Racial Paralysis

    We explore the existence and underlying neural mechanism of a new norm endorsed by both black and white Americans for managing interracial interactions: "racial paralysis," the tendency to opt out of decisions involving members of different races. We show that people are more willing to make choices—Who is more intelligent? Who is more polite?—between two white individuals (same-race decisions) than between a white and a black individual (cross-race decisions), a tendency that was enhanced when judgments involved traits related to black stereotypes. We use fMRI to examine the mechanisms underlying racial paralysis, revealing greater recruitment of brain regions implicated in socially appropriate behavior (VMPFC), conflict detection (ACC), deliberative processing (DLPFC), and inhibition (VLPFC). We discuss the impact of racial paralysis on the quality of interracial relations.

    Keywords: Behavior; Race Characteristics; Judgments; Decision Choices and Conditions; Personal Characteristics; Recruitment; Conflict and Resolution; United States;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Malia F. Mason, Joseph A. Vandello, Andrew Biga, and Rebecca Dyer. "An fMRI Investigation of Racial Paralysis." Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 8, no. 4 (April 2013): 387–393. View Details
  26. The Costs of Racial 'Color Blindness'

    The article looks at research on people's attitudes and behaviors with respect to noticing and referring to a person's race. It explains the 2013 study, in which participants played a "Guess Who?" style game of asking yes-or-no questions about a group of faces pictured, half white and half African-American. The authors suggest that people's discomfort and avoidance of referring to race imposes costs in terms of information gathering and effective workplace diversity programs.

    Keywords: Prejudice and Bias; Behavior; Race Characteristics; Attitudes;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., and Evan P. Apfelbaum. "The Costs of Racial 'Color Blindness'." Harvard Business Review 91, nos. 7/8 (July–August 2013): 22. View Details
  27. Rituals Enhance Consumption

    Four experiments tested the novel hypothesis that ritualistic behavior potentiates and enhances the enjoyment of ensuing consumption—an effect found for chocolates, lemonade, and even carrots. Experiment 1 showed that ritual behaviors, compared to a no-ritual condition, made chocolate more flavorful, valuable, and deserving of behavioral savoring. Experiment 2 demonstrated that random gestures do not boost consumption like ritualistic gestures do. It further showed that a delay between a ritual and the opportunity to consume heightens enjoyment, which attests to the idea that ritual behavior stimulates goal-directed action (to consume). Experiment 3 found that performing rituals oneself enhanced consumption more than merely watching someone else perform the same ritual, suggesting that personal involvement is crucial for the benefits of rituals to emerge. Last, Experiment 4 provided direct evidence of the underlying process: Rituals enhance consumption enjoyment due to the greater involvement they prompt in the experience.

    Keywords: Practice; Satisfaction; Consumer Behavior;

    Citation:

    Vohs, J., Y. Wang, F. Gino, and M. I. Norton. "Rituals Enhance Consumption." Psychological Science 24, no. 9 (September 2013): 1714–1721. View Details
  28. The Gifts We Keep on Giving: Documenting and Destigmatizing the Regifting Taboo

    Five studies investigate whether the practice of "regifting"-a social taboo-is as offensive to givers as regifters assume. Participants who imagined regifting thought that the original givers would be more offended than givers reported feeling, to such an extent that receivers viewed regifting as similar in offensiveness to throwing gifts away (whereas givers clearly preferred the former). This asymmetry in emotional reactions to regifting was driven by an asymmetry in beliefs about entitlement. Givers believed that the act of gift giving passed "title" to the gift on to receivers-such that receivers were free to decide what to do with the gift; in contrast, receivers believed that givers retained some "say" in how their gifts were used. Finally, an intervention designed to destigmatize regifting by introducing a different normative standard (i.e., National Regifting Day) corrected the asymmetry in beliefs about entitlement and increased regifting.

    Keywords: Giving and Philanthropy; Attitudes; Behavior; Research;

    Citation:

    Adams, Gabrielle S., Francis J. Flynn, and Michael I. Norton. "The Gifts We Keep on Giving: Documenting and Destigmatizing the Regifting Taboo." Psychological Science 23, no. 10 (October 2012): 1145–1150. View Details
  29. Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion: Evidence for a Positive Feedback Loop between Prosocial Spending and Happiness

    We examine whether a positive feedback loop exists between spending money on others (i.e. prosocial spending) and happiness. Participants recalled a previous purchase made for either themselves or someone else and then reported their happiness. Afterward, participants chose whether to spend a monetary windfall on themselves or someone else. Participants assigned to recall a purchase made for someone else reported feeling significantly happier immediately after this recollection; most importantly, the happier participants felt, the more likely they were to choose to spend a windfall on someone else in the near future. Thus, by providing initial evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and well-being, these data offer one potential path to sustainable happiness: prosocial spending increases happiness which in turn encourages prosocial spending.

    Keywords: Happiness; Giving and Philanthropy;

    Citation:

    Aknin, Lara B., Elizabeth W. Dunn, and Michael I. Norton. "Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion: Evidence for a Positive Feedback Loop between Prosocial Spending and Happiness." Journal of Happiness Studies 13 (2012): 347–355. View Details
  30. iPhones for Friends, Refrigerators for Family: How Products Prime Social Networks

    We show that priming consumers with products associated with specific social networks increases the salience of those networks, influencing both word-of-mouth intentions and consumption. Consumers were exposed to friend- or family-related products (e.g., game consoles or refrigerators); when asked to list the first people they knew who came to mind, they were more likely to list members of primed networks (Study 1). Product priming also increases the speed with which product-relevant individuals come to mind (Study 2). In Study 3, consumers felt subjectively closer to networks primed by specific products, and this felt closeness predicted subsequent word-of-mouth intentions. Finally, Study 4 shows that priming relevant networks (e.g., family or friends) makes products associated with those networks more attractive.

    Keywords: Family and Family Relationships; Product; Customers; Familiarity; Social and Collaborative Networks;

    Citation:

    Anik, Lalin, and Michael I. Norton. "iPhones for Friends, Refrigerators for Family: How Products Prime Social Networks." Social Influence 7, no. 3 (July 2012): 154–171. View Details
  31. Racial Colorblindness: Emergence, Practice, and Implications

    We examine the pervasive endorsement of racial colorblindness-the belief that racial group membership should not be taken into account or even noticed-as a strategy for managing diversity and intergroup relations. Despite research demonstrating that race is perceived automatically (and thus, the seeming improbability of actual colorblindness), the colorblind approach has become increasingly apparent in a variety of important domains, from education and business to law and societal discourse. An emerging research literature has revealed the many ways in which colorblindness shapes individual, group, and institutional efforts to handle issues of diversity. We offer an integrative assessment of this work, highlighting recent psychological investigations that explore the emergence, practice, and implications of colorblindness. We conclude by discussing alternative strategies for managing diversity, underscoring the importance of an approach that simultaneously accommodates the concerns of whites and minorities.

    Keywords: Management; Strategy; Law; Practice; Race Characteristics; Research; Social Issues; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Apfelbaum, Evan P., Michael I. Norton, and Samuel R. Sommers. "Racial Colorblindness: Emergence, Practice, and Implications." Current Directions in Psychological Science 21, no. 3 (June 2012): 205–209. View Details
  32. Paying to Be Nice: Consistency and Costly Prosocial Behavior

    Building on previous research in economics and psychology, we propose that the costliness of initial prosocial behavior positively influences whether that behavior leads to consistent future behaviors. We suggest that costly prosocial behaviors serve as a signal of prosocial identity and that people subsequently behave in line with that self-perception. In contrast, costless prosocial acts do not signal much about one's prosocial identity, so subsequent behavior is less likely to be consistent and may even show the reductions in prosocial behavior associated with licensing. The results of a laboratory experiment and a large field experiment converge to support our account.

    Keywords: Research; Economics; Behavior; Welfare or Wellbeing; Perception; Performance Consistency; Power and Influence; Identity;

    Citation:

    Gneezy, Ayelet, Alex Imas, Amber Brown, Leif D. Nelson, and Michael I. Norton. "Paying to Be Nice: Consistency and Costly Prosocial Behavior." Management Science 58, no. 1 (January 2012): 179–187. View Details
  33. Consequence-Cause Matching: Looking to the Consequences of Events to Infer Their Causes

    We show that people non-normatively infer event causes from event consequences. For example, people inferred that a product failure (computer crash) had a large cause (widespread computer virus) if it had a large consequence (job loss), but that the identical failure was more likely to have a smaller cause (cooling fan malfunction) if the consequence was small-even though the consequences were objectively uninformative about the causes. Across experiments, participants' inferences about event causes were systematically affected by how similar (in both size and valence) those causes were to event consequences. Additional experiments further suggested that this "consequence-cause matching" arises because people are motivated to see the world as predictable, and because matching is an accessible schema that helps them to fulfill this motivation.

    Keywords: Product; Forecasting and Prediction; Motivation and Incentives; Failure;

    Citation:

    LeBoeuf, Robyn A., and Michael I. Norton. "Consequence-Cause Matching: Looking to the Consequences of Events to Infer Their Causes." Journal of Consumer Research 39, no. 1 (June 2012): 128–141. View Details
  34. Bolstering and Restoring Feelings of Competence via the IKEA Effect

    We examine the underlying process behind the IKEA effect, which is defined as consumers' willingness to pay more for self-created products than for identical products made by others, and explore the factors that influence both consumers' willingness to engage in self-creation and the utility that they derive from such activities. We propose that creating products fulfills consumers' psychological need to signal competence to themselves and to others, and that feelings of competence associated with self-created products lead to their increased valuation. We demonstrate that the feelings of competence that arise from assembling products mediate their increased value (Experiment 1), that affirming consumers' sense of self decreases the value they derive from their creations (Experiment 2), and that threatening consumers' sense of self increases their propensity to make things themselves (Experiments 3A and 3B).

    Keywords: Value; Consumer Behavior; Attitudes;

    Citation:

    Mochon, Daniel, Michael I. Norton, and Dan Ariely. "Bolstering and Restoring Feelings of Competence via the IKEA Effect." International Journal of Research in Marketing 29, no. 4 (December 2012): 363–369. View Details
  35. Giving Time Gives You Time

    Four experiments reveal a counterintuitive solution to the common problem of feeling that one does not have enough time: giving some of it away. Although people's objective amount of time cannot be increased (there are only 24 hours in a day), this research demonstrates that people's subjective sense of time affluence can be increased: compared with wasting time, spending time on oneself, and even gaining a windfall of "free" time, spending time on others increases feelings of time affluence. The impact of giving time on feelings of time affluence is driven by a boosted sense of self-efficacy – such that giving time makes people more willing to commit to future engagements despite their busy schedules.

    Keywords: Time Management; Giving and Philanthropy; Research;

    Citation:

    Mogilner, Cassie, Zoe Chance, and Michael I. Norton. "Giving Time Gives You Time." Psychological Science 23, no. 10 (October 2012): 1233–1238. View Details
  36. The Persuasive 'Power' of Stigma?

    We predicted that able-bodied individuals and white Americans would have a difficult time saying no to persuasive appeals offered by disabled individuals and black Americans, due to their desire to make such interactions proceed smoothly. In two experiments, we show that members of stigmatized groups have a peculiar kind of persuasive "power" in face-to-face interactions with non-stigmatized individuals. In Experiment 1, wheelchair-bound confederates were more effective in publicly soliciting donations to a range of charities than confederates seated in a regular chair. In Experiment 2, whites changed their private attitudes more following face-to-face appeals from black than white confederates, an effect mediated by their increased efforts to appear agreeable by nodding and expressing agreement. This difference was eliminated when impression management concerns were minimized—when participants viewed the appeals on video.

    Keywords: Power and Influence; Personal Characteristics; Cognition and Thinking; Interpersonal Communication; Spoken Communication; Attitudes; Negotiation Participants; Management Practices and Processes; Competency and Skills; Social Enterprise; United States;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Elizabeth W. Dunn, Dana R. Carney, and Dan Ariely. "The Persuasive 'Power' of Stigma?" Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 117 (2012): 261–268. View Details
  37. The IKEA Effect: When Labor Leads to Love

    In four studies in which consumers assembled IKEA boxes, folded origami, and built sets of Legos, we demonstrate and investigate boundary conditions for the IKEA effect—the increase in valuation of self-made products. Participants saw their amateurish creations as similar in value to experts' creations, and expected others to share their opinions. We show that labor leads to love only when labor results in successful completion of tasks; when participants built and then destroyed their creations, or failed to complete them, the IKEA effect dissipated. Finally, we show that labor increases valuation for both "do-it-yourselfers" and novices.

    Keywords: Demand and Consumers; Product; Valuation; Labor;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely. "The IKEA Effect: When Labor Leads to Love." Journal of Consumer Psychology 22, no. 3 (July 2012): 453–460. View Details
  38. An Age Penalty in Racial Preferences

    We document an age penalty in racial discrimination: charitable behavior toward African American children decreases-and negative stereotypical inferences increase-with the age of those children. Using data from an online charity that solicits donations for school projects, we found that proposals accompanied by images of older African American students (Grades 6-12) led to fewer donations than proposals with images of younger African Americans (pre-K-Grade 5), with the opposite pattern for proposals with images of multiples races or of all White students. A laboratory experiment demonstrated that negative stereotypical beliefs about African Americans (e.g., that they are lazy) increased with age more for African American children than for White children, a pattern that predicted decreases in giving.

    Keywords: Online Technology; Age; Race Characteristics; Forecasting and Prediction; Projects; Giving and Philanthropy;

    Citation:

    Small, Deborah A., Devin G. Pope, and Michael I. Norton. "An Age Penalty in Racial Preferences." Social Psychological & Personality Science 3, no. 6 (November 2012): 730–737. View Details
  39. The Preference for Potential

    When people seek to impress others, they often do so by highlighting individual achievements. Despite the intuitive appeal of this strategy, we demonstrate that people often prefer potential rather than achievement when evaluating others. Indeed, compared with references to achievement (e.g., "this person has won an award for his work"), references to potential (e.g., "this person could win an award for his work") appear to stimulate greater interest and processing, which can translate into more favorable reactions. This tendency creates a phenomenon whereby the potential to be good at something can be preferred over actually being good at that very same thing. We document this preference for potential in laboratory and field experiments, using targets ranging from athletes to comedians to graduate school applicants and measures ranging from salary allocations to online ad clicks to admission decisions.

    Keywords: attitudes; preferences; persuasion; uncertainty; Risk and Uncertainty; Performance Expectations; Attitudes;

    Citation:

    Tormala, Zakary L., Jayson Jia, and Michael I. Norton. "The Preference for Potential." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 103, no. 4 (October 2012): 567–583. View Details
  40. It's the Recipient That Counts: Spending Money on Strong Social Ties Leads to Greater Happiness Than Spending on Weak Social Ties

    Previous research has shown that spending money on others (prosocial spending) increases happiness. But, do the happiness gains depend on who the money is spent on? Sociologists have distinguished between strong ties with close friends and family and weak ties—relationships characterized by less frequent contact, lower emotional intensity, and limited intimacy. We randomly assigned participants to reflect on a time when they spent money on either a strong social tie or a weak social tie. Participants reported higher levels of positive affect after recalling a time they spent on a strong tie versus a weak tie. The level of intimacy in the relationship was more important than the type of relationship; there was no significant difference in positive affect after recalling spending money on a family member instead of a friend. These results add to the growing literature examining the factors that moderate the link between prosocial behaviour and happiness.

    Keywords: Happiness; Relationships; Giving and Philanthropy;

    Citation:

    Aknin, Lara B., Gillian M. Sandstrom, Elizabeth W. Dunn, and Michael I. Norton. "It's the Recipient That Counts: Spending Money on Strong Social Ties Leads to Greater Happiness Than Spending on Weak Social Ties." PLoS ONE 6, no. 2 (February 2011): e17018. View Details
  41. From Thinking Too Little to Thinking Too Much: A Continuum of Decision Making.

    Due to the sheer number and variety of decisions that people make in their everyday lives-from choosing yogurts to choosing religions to choosing spouses-research in judgment and decision making has taken many forms. We suggest, however, that much of this research has been conducted under two broad rubrics: the study of thinking too little (as with the literature on heuristics and biases), and the study of thinking too much (as with the literature on decision analysis). In this review, we focus on the different types of decision errors that result from both modes of thought. For thinking too little, we discuss research exploring the ways in which habits can lead people to make suboptimal decisions; for thinking too much, we discuss research documenting the ways in which careful consideration of attributes, and careful consideration of options, can do the same. We end by suggesting that decision makers may do well, when making any decision, to consider whether they are facing a "thinking too much" or "thinking too little" problem and adjust accordingly.

    Keywords: Decision Making; Cognition and Thinking; Judgments; Research; Problems and Challenges; Prejudice and Bias;

    Citation:

    Ariely, Dan, and Michael I. Norton. "From Thinking Too Little to Thinking Too Much: A Continuum of Decision Making." Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science 2 (January–February 2011): 39–46. View Details
  42. The Labor Illusion: How Operational Transparency Increases Perceived Value

    A ubiquitous feature of even the fastest self-service technology transactions is the wait. Conventional wisdom and operations theory suggests that the longer people wait, the less satisfied they become; we demonstrate that due to what we term the labor illusion, when websites engage in operational transparency by signaling that they are exerting effort, people can actually prefer websites with longer waits to those that return instantaneous results—even when those results are identical. In five experiments that simulate service experiences in the domains of online travel and online dating, we demonstrate the impact of the labor illusion on service value perceptions, demonstrate that perceptions of service provider effort induce feelings of reciprocity that together mediate the link between operational transparency and increased valuation, and explore boundary conditions and alternative explanations.

    Keywords: Online Technology; Perception; Valuation; Service Delivery; Consumer Behavior; Performance Effectiveness; Customer Satisfaction; Service Industry;

    Citation:

    Buell, Ryan W., and Michael I. Norton. "The Labor Illusion: How Operational Transparency Increases Perceived Value." Management Science 57, no. 9 (September 2011): 1564–1579. View Details
  43. Think Customers Hate Waiting? Not So Fast...

    Managers typically look for ways to reduce wait time to increase customer satisfaction. New research suggests there's a better approach: showing customers a representation of the effort, whether literal or not, being expended on their behalf while they wait. (The prototypical example is the travel website Kayak, which shows customers each airline it searches.) Studies show that customers prefer waiting when the work being done is transparent-even when the waits are longer or the results are no better than those obtained with shorter waits.

    Keywords: Customer Relationship Management; Service Delivery; Consumer Behavior; Performance Effectiveness; Customer Satisfaction;

    Citation:

    Buell, Ryan W., and Michael I. Norton. "Think Customers Hate Waiting? Not So Fast..." Harvard Business Review 89, no. 5 (May 2011). View Details
  44. Temporal View of the Costs and Benefits of Self-Deception

    Researchers have documented many cases in which individuals rationalize their regrettable actions. Four experiments examine situations in which people go beyond merely explaining away their misconduct to actively deceiving themselves. We find that those who exploit opportunities to cheat on tests are likely to engage in self-deception, inferring that their elevated performance is a sign of intelligence. This short-term psychological benefit of self-deception, however, can come with longer-term costs: when predicting future performance, participants expect to perform equally well—a lack of awareness that persists even when these inflated expectations prove costly. We show that although people expect to cheat, they do not foresee self-deception, and that factors that reinforce the benefits of cheating enhance self-deception. More broadly, the findings of these experiments offer evidence that debates about the relative costs and benefits of self-deception are informed by adopting a temporal view that assesses the cumulative impact of self-deception over time.

    Keywords: Cases; Opportunities; Performance Improvement; Social Psychology; Fairness; Cost vs Benefits; Cost; Forecasting and Prediction; Performance Expectations;

    Citation:

    Chance, Zoe, Michael I. Norton, Francesca Gino, and Dan Ariely. "Temporal View of the Costs and Benefits of Self-Deception." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108 (2011): 15655–15659. View Details
  45. Who Benefits from Religion?

    Many studies have documented the benefits of religious involvement. Indeed, highly religious people tend to be healthier, live longer, and have higher levels of subjective well-being. While religious involvement offers clear benefits to many, in this paper we explore whether it may also be detrimental to some. Specifically, we examine in detail the relation between religious involvement and subjective well-being. We first replicate prior findings showing a positive relation between religiosity and subjective well-being. However, our results also suggest that this relation may be more complex than previously thought. While fervent believers benefit from their involvement, those with weaker beliefs are actually less happy than those who do not ascribe to any religion-atheists and agnostics. These results may help explain why-in spite of the well-documented benefits of religion-an increasing number of people are abandoning their faith. As commitment wanes, religious involvement may become detrimental to well-being, and individuals may be better off seeking new affiliations.

    Keywords: Religion; Values and Beliefs; Relationships; Health; Complexity;

    Citation:

    Mochon, Daniel, Michael I. Norton, and Dan Ariely. "Who Benefits from Religion?" Social Indicators Research 101 (2011): 1–15. View Details
  46. Is Life Nasty, Brutish, and Short? Philosophies of Life and Well-Being

    Three studies examine the extent to which laypeople endorse Thomas Hobbes' (1651) view of life as "nasty, brutish, and short" and explore the relationships between this philosophy and well-being. We asked participants to answer two binary choice questions: Is life short or long? And, is life easy or hard? Across a series of studies, the majority of participants indicated that they believed that life is short and hard, while the opposite philosophy, that life is long and easy, was least popular. In addition, these philosophies were correlated with participants' views of their lives: the short-hard philosophy was associated with lower levels of well-being (Studies 1-3), civic engagement (Study 2), and optimism about the future (Study 3), compared to the long-easy philosophy.

    Keywords: Happiness; Satisfaction; Welfare or Wellbeing;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Lalin Anik, Lara B. Aknin, and Elizabeth W. Dunn. "Is Life Nasty, Brutish, and Short? Philosophies of Life and Well-Being." Social Psychological & Personality Science 2 (2011): 570–575. View Details
  47. Building a Better America—One Wealth Quintile at a Time

    Disagreements about the optimal level of wealth inequality underlie policy debates ranging from taxation to welfare. We attempt to insert the desires of "regular" Americans into these debates, by asking a nationally representative online panel to estimate the current distribution of wealth in the United States and to "build a better America" by constructing distributions with their ideal level of inequality. First, respondents dramatically underestimated the current level of wealth inequality. Second, respondents constructed ideal wealth distributions that were far more equitable than even their erroneously low estimates of the actual distribution. Most important from a policy perspective, we observed a surprising level of consensus: All demographic groups—even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy—desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo.

    Keywords: Taxation; Policy; Perspective; Wealth; Equality and Inequality; Income Characteristics; Demography; Debates; Welfare or Wellbeing; Diversity Characteristics; Giving and Philanthropy; Public Administration Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., and Dan Ariely. "Building a Better America—One Wealth Quintile at a Time." Perspectives on Psychological Science 6, no. 1 (January 2011): 9–12. View Details
  48. Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing

    Although some have heralded recent political and cultural developments as signaling the arrival of a post-racial era in America, several legal and social controversies regarding "reverse racism" highlight Whites' increasing concern about anti-White bias. We show that this emerging belief reflects Whites' view of racism as a zero-sum game, such that decreases in perceived bias against Blacks over the past six decades are associated with increases in perceived bias against Whites-a relationship not observed in Blacks' perceptions. Moreover, these changes in Whites' conceptions of racism are extreme enough that Whites have now come to view anti-White bias as a bigger societal problem than anti-Black bias.

    Keywords: Prejudice and Bias; Race Characteristics; Social Issues; Culture; Government and Politics; Growth and Development; United States;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., and Samuel R. Sommers. "Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing." Perspectives on Psychological Science 6 (2011): 215–218. View Details
  49. The Artful Dodger: Answering the Wrong Question the Right Way

    What happens when speakers try to "dodge" a question they would rather not answer by answering a different question? In 4 studies, we show that listeners can fail to detect dodges when speakers answer similar-but objectively incorrect-questions (the "artful dodge"), a detection failure that goes hand in hand with a failure to rate dodgers more negatively. We propose that dodges go undetected because listeners' attention is not usually directed toward a goal of dodge detection (i.e., Is this person answering the question?) but rather toward a goal of social evaluation (i.e., Do I like this person?). Listeners were not blind to all dodge attempts, however. Dodge detection increased when listeners' attention was diverted from social goals toward determining the relevance of the speaker's answers (Study 1), when speakers answered a question egregiously dissimilar to the one asked (Study 2), and when listeners' attention was directed to the question asked by keeping it visible during speakers' answers (Study 4). We also examined the interpersonal consequences of dodge attempts: When listeners were guided to detect dodges, they rated speakers more negatively (Study 2), and listeners rated speakers who answered a similar question in a fluent manner more positively than speakers who answered the actual question but disfluently (Study 3). These results add to the literatures on both Gricean conversational norms and goal-directed attention. We discuss the practical implications of our findings in the contexts of interpersonal communication and public debates.

    Keywords: Interpersonal Communication; Goals and Objectives; Performance Evaluation; Social Issues;

    Citation:

    Rogers, Todd, and Michael I. Norton. "The Artful Dodger: Answering the Wrong Question the Right Way." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 17 (2011): 139–147. View Details
  50. The Social Utility of Feature Creep

    Previous research shows that consumers frequently choose products with too many features that they later find difficult to use. Our research shows that this seemingly suboptimal behavior may in fact confer benefits when factoring in the social context of consumption. Our studies demonstrate that choosing products with more capabilities (i.e., feature-rich products) provides social utility over and above inferences of wealth, signaling consumers' technological skills and openness to new experiences, and that consumers' beliefs about the social utility of feature-rich products are predictive of their choices of such products. Further, we examine when impression management concerns increase consumers' likelihood of choosing feature-rich products. We find that public choices in which participants display their preferences to others encourage feature-seeking behavior, but that the anticipation of having to use a product in front of others provides an incentive to avoid additional features.

    Keywords: Customers; Demand and Consumers; Consumer Behavior; Personal Characteristics; Goods and Commodities; Research; Economics; Experience and Expertise; Learning; Technology Adoption; Utilities Industry;

    Citation:

    Thompson, Debora V., and Michael I. Norton. "The Social Utility of Feature Creep." Journal of Marketing Research (JMR) 48 (2011): 555–565. View Details
  51. The Counterfeit Self: The Deceptive Costs of Faking It

    Although people buy counterfeit products to signal positive traits, we show that wearing counterfeit products makes individuals feel less authentic and increases their likelihood of both behaving dishonestly and judging others as unethical. In four experiments, participants wore purportedly fake or authentically branded sunglasses. Those wearing fake sunglasses cheated more across multiple tasks than did participants wearing authentic sunglasses, both when they believed they had a preference for counterfeits (Experiment 1a) and when they were randomly assigned to wear them (Experiment 1b). Experiment 2 shows that the effects of wearing counterfeit sunglasses extend beyond the self, influencing judgments of other people's unethical behavior. Experiment 3 demonstrates that the feelings of inauthenticity that wearing fake products engenders-what we term the counterfeit self-mediate the impact of counterfeits on unethical behavior. Finally, we show that people do not predict the impact of counterfeits on ethicality; thus, the costs of counterfeits are deceptive.

    Keywords: Judgments; Ethics; Brands and Branding; Product; Behavior; Personal Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Gino, Francesca, Michael I. Norton, and Dan Ariely. "The Counterfeit Self: The Deceptive Costs of Faking It." Psychological Science 21 (2010): 712–720. View Details
  52. People Often Trust Eloquence More Than Honesty

    This article presents a dual interview based on a research study we conducted. Our study found that an artful dodger of questions was generally considered more likable than a person who answered the same questions directly but with less eloquence. We comment on the implications of this research for political campaigns and business management.

    Keywords: Research; Social Psychology; Business or Company Management; Government and Politics; Advertising Campaigns;

    Citation:

    Rogers, Todd, and Michael I. Norton. "People Often Trust Eloquence More Than Honesty." Harvard Business Review 88, no. 11 (November 2010): 36–37. View Details
  53. From Wealth to Well-Being? Money Matters, but Less than People Think

    While numerous studies have documented the modest (though reliable) link between household income and well-being, we examined the accuracy of laypeople's intuitions about this relationship by asking people from across the income spectrum to report their own happiness and to predict the happiness of others (Study 1) and themselves (Study 2) at different income levels. Data from two national surveys revealed that while laypeople's predictions were relatively accurate at higher levels of income, they greatly overestimated the impact of income on life satisfaction at lower income levels, expecting low household income to be coupled with very low life satisfaction. Thus, people may work hard to maintain or increase their income in part because they overestimate the hedonic costs of earning low levels of income.

    Keywords: Happiness; Work-Life Balance; Satisfaction; Income Characteristics; Household Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Aknin, Lara B., Michael I. Norton, and Elizabeth W. Dunn. "From Wealth to Well-Being? Money Matters, but Less than People Think." Journal of Positive Psychology 4 (2009): 523–27. View Details
  54. How Concepts Affect Consumption

    Duke behavioral economist Ariely and Harvard Business School professor Norton explore how our consumption of concepts influences physical consumption, both positively and negatively.

    Keywords: Spending; Marketing Communications; Consumer Behavior; Power and Influence;

    Citation:

    Ariely, Dan, and Michael I. Norton. "How Concepts Affect Consumption." Harvard Business Review 87, no. 6 (June 2009). View Details
  55. Shaping Online Consumer Choice by Partitioning the Web

    This research explores how partitioning attributes in online search interfaces changes the valuations of those attributes-and impacts subsequent choice-such that attributes that are displayed as separate categories tend to receive greater decision weight than attributes grouped under umbrella categories. Across several choice domains-cars, dates, and hotels-we show that different attribute partitions impact the importance assigned to attributes (Studies 1 and 2), as well as consumer choices (Studies 3 and 4). We argue that these effects are due in part to users' willingness to use the implicit recommendations of interface designers to determine the importance of attributes, a willingness that extends to following explicit recommendations of online agents based on those attributes (Study 5).

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Information Management; Demand and Consumers; Research; Web; Valuation;

    Citation:

    Martin, Jolie M., and Michael I. Norton. "Shaping Online Consumer Choice by Partitioning the Web." Psychology & Marketing 26, no. 10 (October 2009): 908–926. View Details
  56. Neural Mechanisms of Social Influence

    The present investigation explores the neural mechanisms underlying the impact of social influence on preferences. We socially tagged symbols as valued or not-by exposing participants to the preferences of their peers-and assessed subsequent brain activity during an incidental processing task in which participants viewed popular, unpopular, and novel symbols. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) differentiated between symbols that were and were not socially tagged-a possible index of normative influence-while aspects of the striatum (the caudate) differentiated between popular and unpopular symbols-a possible index of informational influence. These results suggest that integrating activity in these two brain regions may differentiate objects that have become valued as a result of social influence from those valued for non-social reasons.

    Keywords: Power and Influence; Value; Information; Outcome or Result;

    Citation:

    Mason, Malia, Rebecca Dyer, and Michael I. Norton. "Neural Mechanisms of Social Influence." Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 110, no. 2 (November 2009): 152–159. View Details
  57. When Dreaming Is Believing: The (Motivated) Interpretation of Dreams

    This research investigated laypeople's interpretation of their dreams. Participants from both Eastern and Western cultures believed that dreams contain hidden truths (Study 1) and considered dreams to provide more meaningful information about the world than similar waking thoughts (Studies 2 and 3). The meaningfulness attributed to specific dreams, however, was moderated by the extent to which the content of those dreams accorded with participants' preexisting beliefs—from the theories they endorsed to attitudes toward acquaintances, relationships with friends, and faith in God (Studies 3–6). Finally, dream content influenced judgment: Participants reported greater affection for a friend after considering a dream in which a friend protected rather than betrayed them (Study 5) and were equally reluctant to fly after dreaming or learning of a plane crash (Studies 2 and 3). Together, these results suggest that people engage in motivated interpretation of their dreams and that these interpretations impact their everyday lives.

    Keywords: Communication Intention and Meaning; Judgments; Values and Beliefs; Information; Behavior; Cognition and Thinking; Motivation and Incentives;

    Citation:

    Morewedge, Carey K., and Michael I. Norton. "When Dreaming Is Believing: The (Motivated) Interpretation of Dreams." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 96, no. 2 (2009): 249–264. (

    Winner of Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Theoretical Innovation Prize For an article or book chapter judged to provide the most innovative theoretical contribution to social/personality psychology within a given year presented by Society for Personality and Social Psychology​

    .) View Details
  58. Learning (Not) to Talk About Race: When Older Children Underperform in Social Categorization

    The present research identifies an anomaly in sociocognitive development, whereby younger children (8 and 9 years) outperform their older counterparts (10 and 11 years) in a basic categorization task in which the acknowledgment of racial difference facilitates performance. Though older children exhibit superior performance on a race-neutral version of the task, their tendency to avoid acknowledging race hinders objective success when race is a relevant category. That these findings emerge in late childhood, in a pattern counter to the normal developmental trajectory of increased cognitive expertise in categorization, suggests that this anomaly indicates the onset of a critical transition in human social development.

    Keywords: Transition; Age; Race Characteristics; Society; Cognition and Thinking;

    Citation:

    Apfelbaum, Evan P., Kristin Pauker, Nalini Ambady, Samuel R. Sommers, and Michael I. Norton. "Learning (Not) to Talk About Race: When Older Children Underperform in Social Categorization." Developmental Psychology 44, no. 5 (2008). View Details
  59. Seeing Race and Seeming Racist? Evaluating Strategic Colorblindness in Social Interaction

    Keywords: Attitudes; Social Issues; Society;

    Citation:

    Apfelbaum, Evan P., Samuel R. Sommers, and Michael I. Norton. "Seeing Race and Seeming Racist? Evaluating Strategic Colorblindness in Social Interaction." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 95, no. 4 (2008): 918–932. View Details
  60. Getting off the Hedonic Treadmill, One Step at a Time: The Impact of Regular Religious Practice and Exercise on Well-Being

    Many studies have shown that few events in life have a lasting impact on subjective well-being because of people's tendency to adapt quickly; worse, those events that do have a lasting impact tend to be negative. We suggest that while major events may not provide lasting increases in well-being, certain seemingly minor events—such as attending religious services or exercising—may do so by providing small but frequent boosts: if people engage in such behaviors with sufficient frequency, they may cumulatively experience enough boosts to attain higher well-being. In Study 1, we surveyed places of worship for 12 religions and found that people did receive positive boosts for attending services and that these boosts appeared to be cumulative: the more they reported attending, the happier they were. In Study 2, we generalized these effects to other regular activities, demonstrating that people received boosts for exercise and yoga, and that these boosts, too, had a cumulative positive impact on well-being. We suggest that shifting focus from the impact of major life changes on well-being to the impact of seemingly minor repeated behaviors is crucial for understanding how best to improve well-being.

    Keywords: Health; Performance Improvement; Religion; Behavior; Happiness; Welfare or Wellbeing;

    Citation:

    Mochon, Daniel, Michael I. Norton, and Dan Ariely. "Getting off the Hedonic Treadmill, One Step at a Time: The Impact of Regular Religious Practice and Exercise on Well-Being." Journal of Economic Psychology 29, no. 5 (November 2008): 632–642. View Details
  61. Help Employees Give Away Some of That Bonus

    Employees who spend some or all of their bonuses on others-thereby creating what the authors call a "prosocial" workplace-are happier as a result. Managers can enhance that effect by providing opportunities to share the wealth.

    Keywords: Giving and Philanthropy; Compensation and Benefits; Employees; Managerial Roles; Behavior; Happiness;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., and Elizabeth W. Dunn. "Help Employees Give Away Some of That Bonus." HBS Centennial Issue Harvard Business Review 86, nos. 7/8 (July–August 2008): 27. View Details
  62. Colorblindness and Diversity: Conflicting Goals in Decisions Influenced by Race

    Keywords: Goals and Objectives; Decision Making; Conflict and Resolution; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Joseph A. Vandello, Andrew Biga, and John M. Darley. "Colorblindness and Diversity: Conflicting Goals in Decisions Influenced by Race." Social Cognition 26 (2008): 102–111. View Details
  63. Race and Jury Selection: Psychological Perspectives on the Peremptory Challenge Debate

    Keywords: Perspective; Law; Communication; Problems and Challenges; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Sommers, Samuel R., and Michael I. Norton. "Race and Jury Selection: Psychological Perspectives on the Peremptory Challenge Debate." American Psychologist 63 (September 2008): 527–539. View Details
  64. Aid in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: Inferences of Secondary Emotions and Intergroup Helping

    Keywords: Natural Disasters; Emotions; Groups and Teams;

    Citation:

    Cuddy, A.J.C., M. Rock, and M. I. Norton. "Aid in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: Inferences of Secondary Emotions and Intergroup Helping." Group Processes & Intergroup Relations 10 (January 2007): 107–118. View Details
  65. Wandering Minds: The Default Network and Stimulus-Independent Thought.

    Keywords: Networks; Cognition and Thinking;

    Citation:

    Mason, Malia F., Michael I. Norton, Jack D. Van Horn, Daniel M. Wegner, Scott D. Grafton, and C. Neil Macrae. "Wandering Minds: The Default Network and Stimulus-Independent Thought." Science 315 (January 2007): 393–395. View Details
  66. Bias in Jury Selection: Justifying Prohibited Peremptory Challenges

    Keywords: Prejudice and Bias; Problems and Challenges;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Samuel R. Sommers, and Sara Brauner. "Bias in Jury Selection: Justifying Prohibited Peremptory Challenges." Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 20, no. 5 (December 2007): 467–479. View Details
  67. Race-Based Judgments, Race-Neutral Justifications: Experimental Examination of Peremptory Use and the Batson Challenge Procedure

    Keywords: Judgments; Attitudes;

    Citation:

    Sommers, Samuel R., and Michael I. Norton. "Race-Based Judgments, Race-Neutral Justifications: Experimental Examination of Peremptory Use and the Batson Challenge Procedure." Law and Human Behavior 31, no. 3 (June 2007): 261–273. View Details
  68. Color Blindness and Interracial Interaction: Playing the Political Correctness Game

    Keywords: Behavior; Attitudes; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Samuel R. Sommers, Evan P. Apfelbaum, Natassia Pura, and Dan Ariely. "Color Blindness and Interracial Interaction: Playing the Political Correctness Game." Psychological Science 17, no. 11 (2006): 949–953. View Details
  69. Mixed Motives and Racial Bias: The Impact of Legitimate and Illegitimate Criteria on Decision-making.

    Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Prejudice and Bias; Decision Making;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Samuel R. Sommers, Joseph A. Vandello, and John M. Darley. "Mixed Motives and Racial Bias: The Impact of Legitimate and Illegitimate Criteria on Decision-making." Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 12, no. 1 (February 2006): 36–55. View Details
  70. This Old Stereotype: The Stubbornness and Pervasiveness of the Elderly Stereotype

    Americans stereotype elderly people as warm and incompetent, following from perceptions of them as noncompetitive and low status, respectively. This article extends existing research regarding stereotyping of older people in two ways. First, we discuss whether the mixed elderly stereotype is unique to American culture. Data from six non-U.S. countries, including three collectivist cultures, demonstrate elderly stereotypes are consistent across varied cultures. Second, we investigate the persistence of the evaluatively-mixed nature of the elderly stereotype. In an experiment, 55 college students rated less competent elderly targets (stereotype-consistent) as warmer than more competent (stereotype-inconsistent) and control elderly targets. We also discuss the type of discrimination—social exclusion—that elderly people often endure.

    Keywords: Prejudice and Bias; Age; Attitudes;

    Citation:

    Cuddy, A.J.C., M. I. Norton, and S. T. Fiske. "This Old Stereotype: The Stubbornness and Pervasiveness of the Elderly Stereotype." Journal of Social Issues 61, no. 2 (June 2005): 267–285. View Details
  71. Reacting to an Assumed Situation vs. Conforming to an Assumed Reaction: The Role of Perceived Speaker Attitude in Vicarious Dissonance

    Keywords: Perception;

    Citation:

    Monin, Benoit, Michael I. Norton, Joel Cooper, and Michael A. Hogg. "Reacting to an Assumed Situation vs. Conforming to an Assumed Reaction: The Role of Perceived Speaker Attitude in Vicarious Dissonance." Group Processes & Intergroup Relations 7, no. 3 (July 2004): 207–220. View Details
  72. AntiGroupWare and Second Messenger: Simple Systems for Improving (and Eliminating) Meetings.

    Keywords: Technology; System;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Joan M. DiMicco, Ron Caneel, and Dan Ariely. "AntiGroupWare and Second Messenger: Simple Systems for Improving (and Eliminating) Meetings." BT Technology Journal 22, no. 4 (October 2004): 83–88. View Details
  73. Perceptions of a Fluid Consensus: Uniqueness Bias, False Consensus, False Polarization and Pluralistic Ignorance in a Water Conservation Crisis.

    Keywords: Perception; Prejudice and Bias;

    Citation:

    Monin, Benoit, and Michael I. Norton. "Perceptions of a Fluid Consensus: Uniqueness Bias, False Consensus, False Polarization and Pluralistic Ignorance in a Water Conservation Crisis." Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin 29, no. 5 (May 2003): 559–567. View Details
  74. Hype and Suspicion: The Effects of Pretrial Publicity, Race, and Suspicion on Jurors' Verdicts.

    Keywords: Courts and Trials; Judgments; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Fein, Steven, Seth J. Morgan, Michael I. Norton, and Samuel R. Sommers. "Hype and Suspicion: The Effects of Pretrial Publicity, Race, and Suspicion on Jurors' Verdicts." Journal of Social Issues 53 (fall 1997): 487–502. View Details

Book Chapters

  1. Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-interested Charitable Behavior

    While lay intuitions and pop psychology suggest that helping others leads to higher levels of happiness, the existing evidence only weakly supports this causal claim: research in psychology, economics, and neuroscience exploring the benefits of charitable giving has been largely correlational, leaving open the question of whether giving causes greater happiness. In this chapter, we have two primary aims. First, we review the evidence linking charitable behavior and happiness. We present research from a variety of samples (adults, children, and primates) and methods (correlational and experimental) demonstrating that happier people give more, that giving indeed causes increased happiness, and that these two relationships may operate in a circular fashion. Second, we consider whether advertising these benefits of charitable giving-asking people to give in order to be happy-may have the perverse consequence of decreasing charitable giving, crowding out intrinsic motivations to give by corrupting a purely social act with economic considerations.

    Keywords: Advertising; Cost vs Benefits; Giving and Philanthropy; Outcome or Result; Relationships; Research; Behavior; Happiness; Motivation and Incentives;

    Citation:

    Anik, L., L. B. Aknin, M. I. Norton, and E. W. Dunn. "Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-interested Charitable Behavior." In The Science of Giving: Experimental Approaches to the Study of Charity, edited by D. M. Oppenheimer and C. Y. Olivola. Psychology Press, 2010. View Details
  2. I Read Playboy for the Articles: Justifying and Rationalizing Questionable Preferences

    When people behave in ways that might appear selfish, prejudiced or perverted, they engage in a host of strategies designed to justify questionable behavior with rational excuses: “I hired my son because he's more qualified”; “I promoted Ashley because she does a better job than Aisha”; or, in the example from our title, “I read Playboy for the articles.” In this chapter, we first describe two means by which individuals rationalize and justify questionable behavior. First, we focus on preemptive actions people take before engaging in such behavior. Second, we focus on concurrent strategies, examining how people restructure situations such that their behavior seems less questionable—including an experiment in which people justify their suspect magazine preferences. We conclude by briefly reviewing two additional strategies for coping with such difficult situations: forgoing making decisions and forgetting those decisions altogether.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Ethics; Behavior; Strategy;

    Citation:

    Chance, Zoe, and Michael I. Norton. "I Read Playboy for the Articles: Justifying and Rationalizing Questionable Preferences." In The Interplay of Truth and Deception, edited by M. S. McGlone and M. L. Knapp. Routledge, 2008. View Details

Working Papers

  1. Handshaking Promotes Cooperative Dealmaking

    Humans use subtle sources of information—like nonverbal behavior—to determine whether to act cooperatively or antagonistically when they negotiate. Handshakes are particularly consequential nonverbal gestures in negotiations because people feel comfortable initiating negotiations with them and believe they signal cooperation (Study 1). We show that handshakes increase cooperative behaviors, affecting outcomes for integrative and distributive negotiations. In two studies with MBA students, pairs who shook hands before integrative negotiations obtained higher joint outcomes (Studies 2a and 2b). Pairs randomly assigned to shake hands were more likely to openly reveal their preferences on trade-off issues, which improved joint outcomes (Study 3). In a fourth study using a distributive negotiation, pairs of executives assigned to shake hands were less likely to lie about their preferences and crafted agreements that split the bargaining zone more equally. Together, these studies show that handshaking promotes the adoption of cooperative strategies and influences negotiation outcomes.

    Keywords: Negotiation Tactics; Cooperation; Societal Protocols;

    Citation:

    Schroeder, Juliana, Jane Risen, Francesca Gino, and Michael I. Norton. "Handshaking Promotes Cooperative Dealmaking." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-117, May 2014. View Details
  2. Eliciting Taxpayer Preferences Increases Tax Compliance

    Two experiments show that eliciting taxpayer preferences on government spending―providing taxpayer agency―increases tax compliance. We first create an income and taxation environment in a laboratory setting to test for compliance with a "lab tax." Allowing a treatment group to express non-binding preferences over tax spending priorities leads to a 16% increase in tax compliance. A follow-up online study tests this treatment with a simulation of paying US federal taxes. Allowing taxpayers to signal their preferences on the distribution of government spending results in a 15% reduction in the stated take-up rate of a questionable tax loophole. Providing taxpayer agency recouples tax payments with the public services obtained in return, reduces general anti-tax sentiment, and holds satisfaction with tax payment stable despite increased compliance with tax dues. With tax noncompliance costing the U.S. government $385 billion annually, providing taxpayer agency could have meaningful economic impact. At the same time, giving taxpayers a voice may act as a two-way "nudge," transforming tax payment from a passive experience to a channel of communication between taxpayers and government.

    Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Taxation; Public Administration Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Lamberton, Cait, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, and Michael I. Norton. "Eliciting Taxpayer Preferences Increases Tax Compliance." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-106, April 2014. View Details
  3. Surfacing the Submerged State with Operational Transparency in Government Services

    As Americans' trust in government nears historic lows, frustration with government performance approaches record highs. One explanation for this trend is that citizens may be unaware of both the services provided by government and the impact of those services on their lives. In an experiment, Boston-area residents interacted with a website that visualizes both service requests submitted by the public (e.g., potholes and broken streetlamps) and efforts by the City of Boston to address them. Some participants observed a count of new, open, and recently closed service requests, while others viewed these requests visualized on an interactive map that included details and images of the work being performed. Residents who experienced this "operational transparency" in government services — seeing the work that government is doing — expressed more positive attitudes toward government and greater support for maintaining or expanding the scale of government programs. The effect of transparency on support for government programs was equivalent to a roughly 20% decline in conservatism on a political ideology scale. We further demonstrate that positive attitudes about government partially mediate the relationship between operational transparency and support for maintaining and expanding government programs. While transparency is customarily trained on elected officials as a means of ethical oversight, our research documents the benefits of increased transparency into the delivery of government services.

    Keywords: Programs; Perception; Attitudes; Performance; Corporate Governance; Government Administration; Public Administration Industry; Boston;

    Citation:

    Buell, Ryan W., and Michael I. Norton. "Surfacing the Submerged State with Operational Transparency in Government Services." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-034, November 2013. View Details
  4. Non-Standard Matches and Charitable Giving

    Many organisations, including corporations and governments, wish to encourage charitable giving, and offer incentives for their employees, customers and citizens to do so. The most common of these incentives is a match rate, where the organisation agrees to pay, for example, $1 for every $1 donated. However, these incentives may not be efficient. In this short article we suggest alternative ways of matching that existing theory and data suggest might be more effective at encouraging donations. These include non-linear matching, social (and team) matching, and lottery matching—each of which novel schemes could be tested empirically against a standard match incentive.

    Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Organizational Culture; Giving and Philanthropy;

    Citation:

    Sanders, Michael, Sarah Smith, and Michael I. Norton. "Non-Standard Matches and Charitable Giving." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-094, May 2013. View Details
  5. How Elastic Are Preferences for Redistribution? Evidence from Randomized Survey Experiments

    This paper analyzes the effects of information about inequality and taxes on preferences for redistribution using randomized online surveys on Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk). About 5,000 respondents were randomized into treatments providing interactive information on U.S. income inequality, the link between top income tax rates and economic growth, and the estate tax. We find that the informational treatment has very large effects on whether respondents view inequality as an important problem. By contrast, we find quantitatively small effects of the treatment on views about policy and redistribution: support for taxing the rich increases slightly, support for transfers to the poor does not, especially among those with lower incomes and education. An exception is the estate tax — we find that informing respondents that it affects only the very richest families has an extremely large positive effect on estate tax support, even increasing respondents' willingness to write to their U.S. senator about the issue. We also find that the treatment substantially decreases trust in government, potentially mitigating respondents' willingness to translate concerns about inequality into government action. Methodologically, we explore different strategies to lower attrition in online survey platforms and show our main results are robust across methods. A small follow-up survey one month later reveals that our results persist over time. Finally, we compare mTurk with other survey vendors and provide suggestions to future researchers considering this platform.

    Keywords: Equality and Inequality; Surveys; Taxation;

    Citation:

    Kuziemko, Ilyana, Michael I. Norton, Emmanuel Saez, and Stefanie Stantcheva. "How Elastic Are Preferences for Redistribution? Evidence from Randomized Survey Experiments." NBER Working Paper Series, No. 18865, March 2013. View Details
  6. Men as Cultural Ideals: How Culture Shapes Gender Stereotypes

    Three studies demonstrate how culture shapes the contents of gender stereotypes, such that men are perceived as possessing more of whatever traits are culturally valued. In Study 1, Americans rated men as less interdependent than women; Koreans, however, showed the opposite pattern, rating men as more interdependent than women, deviating from the "universal" gender stereotype of male independence. In Study 2, bi-cultural Korean American participants rated men as less interdependent if they completed a survey in English, but as more interdependent if they completed the survey in Korean, demonstrating how cultural frames influence the contents of gender stereotypes. In Study 3, American college students rated a male student as higher on whichever trait—ambitiousness or sociability—they were told was the most important cultural value at their university, establishing that cultural values causally impact the contents of gender stereotypes.

    Keywords: Prejudice and Bias; Perception; Values and Beliefs; Gender Characteristics; Culture; Power and Influence;

    Citation:

    Cuddy, Amy J.C., Susan Crotty, Jihye Chong, and Michael I. Norton. "Men as Cultural Ideals: How Culture Shapes Gender Stereotypes." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 10-097, May 2010. View Details
  7. 'I read Playboy for the Articles': Justifying and Rationalizing Questionable Preferences

    Keywords: Job Search; Market Participation; Market Transactions; Marketplace Matching; Relationships; Social and Collaborative Networks;

    Citation:

    Chance, Zoe, and Michael I. Norton. "'I read Playboy for the Articles': Justifying and Rationalizing Questionable Preferences." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 10-018, September 2009. View Details
  8. Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior

    While lay intuitions and pop psychology suggest that helping others leads to higher levels of happiness, the existing evidence only weakly supports this causal claim: Research in psychology, economics, and neuroscience exploring the benefits of charitable giving has been largely correlational, leaving open the question of whether giving causes greater happiness. In this chapter, we have two primary aims. First, we review the evidence linking charitable behavior and happiness. We present research from a variety of samples (adults, children and primates) and methods (correlational and experimental) demonstrating that happier people give more, that giving indeed causes increased happiness, and that these two relationships may operate in a circular fashion. Second, we consider whether advertising these benefits of charitable giving—asking people to give in order to be happy—may have the perverse consequence of decreasing charitable giving, crowding out intrinsic motivations to give by corrupting a purely social act with economic considerations.

    Keywords: Giving and Philanthropy; Research; Behavior; Happiness; Motivation and Incentives;

    Citation:

    Anik, Lalin, Lara B. Aknin, Michael I. Norton, and Elizabeth W. Dunn. "Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 10-012, August 2009. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Gastón Acurio: A Recipe for Success

    Gastón Acurio, star chef and restaurateur from Peru, must decide whether and how to adapt his signature Peruvian cuisine to local tastes as he opens restaurants in new countries.

    Citation:

    Keinan, Anat, Michael Norton, German Echecopar, and Cintra Scott. "Gastón Acurio: A Recipe for Success." Harvard Business School Case 514-014, May 2014. View Details
  2. Juan Valdez: Innovation in Caffeination

    Corporate entrepreneurs attempt to revive Colombia's famous Juan Valdez brand in the age of Starbucks, with café chain and packaged coffee ventures. In the 1970s and 80s, the iconic "Juan Valdez" ingredient brand was the most recognized in the world of coffee. The success of advertising based on this character garnered the Colombian coffee industry price premiums in international markets, especially the US. By the 2000s, Colombia's coffee sector was being battered and its branding power diminished as café chains such as Starbucks increasingly captured profits in the value chain. In reaction, Colombia's coffee federation develops a semi-independent, for-profit branding arm—Procafecol—to rebuild the Juan Valdez brand. Procafecol launches the first Juan Valdez cafes and a packaged coffee line, putting Colombian coffee into competition with many of its traditional customers. The case examines the successes and failures of the first five years of the new strategy, encouraging discussion of what changes must be made to Procafecol's innovation program.

    Keywords: innovation; branding; global business; Sales; marketing; retailing; corporate strategy; Organizational change; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Brands and Branding; Innovation and Invention;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., and Jeremy Dann. "Juan Valdez: Innovation in Caffeination." Harvard Business School Case 513-090, February 2013. (Revised May 2013.) View Details
  3. What's the Deal with LivingSocial?

    Tim O'Shaughnessy, the 29-year-old CEO of LivingSocial, is growing a revolutionary worldwide business of "daily deals"—in which retailers offer a heavily-discounted product or service available for purchase for brief (often 24-hour) windows. The case explores the complicated sharing of risks and rewards between LivingSocial, participating retailers, and customers, focusing on the return on investment in both the short- and longer-term for LivingSocial's retail partners. In addition, given the rapid growth of the daily deals space and the accompanying proliferation of competitors including Groupon and Amazon.com, the case focuses on the need for constant innovation in product offerings to maintain differentiation from copycats.

    Keywords: Web Services Industry;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Luc Wathieu, Betsy Page Sigman, and Marco Bertini. "What's the Deal with LivingSocial?" Harvard Business School Case 512-065, February 2012. (Revised August 2013.) View Details
  4. EILEEN FISHER: Repositioning the Brand

    Well-established fashion brand Eileen Fisher has traditionally appealed to older women. However, to drive growth, Eileen Fisher's management team wants to target a younger demographic and has revamped its Fall product line to offer more fashionable styles to appeal to younger women. But, repositioning the brand has proven to be harder than expected. This case explores the challenges of appealing to new target markets, without alienating existing customers. The case follows Eileen Fisher's initial forays into social media as they chase a younger demographic, and demonstrates the opportunities and pitfalls that await big brands when they enter the world of Web 2.0.

    Keywords: marketing; brand management; brand positioning; market segmentation and target market selection; retailing; fashion; corporate social responsibility; social media; Brands and Branding; Product Positioning; Segmentation; Social and Collaborative Networks; Growth and Development Strategy; Retail Industry; Fashion Industry;

    Citation:

    Keinan, Anat, Jill Avery, Fiona Wilson, and Michael Norton. "EILEEN FISHER: Repositioning the Brand." Harvard Business School Case 512-085, April 2012. (Revised May 2012.) View Details
  5. The Pepsi Refresh Project: A Thirst for Change

    In 2010, for the first time in 23 years, PepsiCo did not invest in Superbowl advertising for its iconic brand. Instead, the company diverted this $20 million to the social media-fueled Pepsi Refresh Project: PepsiCo's innovative cause-marketing program in which consumers submitted ideas for grants for health, environmental, social, educational, and cultural causes. Consumers voted for their favorite ideas, and PepsiCo funded the winners in grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000. The case highlights the benefits and risks of traditional branding and social media branding, including a discussion of how the Pepsi Refresh Project fits with Pepsi's previous brand positioning. The case discussion focuses on how the brand team should evaluate the initiative's return on investment (from sales to social media engagement), whether they should continue the initiative for 2011, and whether Pepsi is the right brand for this kind of initiative.

    Keywords: Risk Management; Marketing Strategy; Customer Focus and Relationships; Advertising Campaigns; Investment Return; Brands and Branding; Marketing Communications; Social Marketing; Cost vs Benefits; Food and Beverage Industry;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., and Jill Avery. "The Pepsi Refresh Project: A Thirst for Change." Harvard Business School Case 512-018, September 2011. (Revised August 2013.) View Details
  6. Note on Evaluating Empirical Research

    This note is intended to provide students with a basic understanding of how to evaluate empirical research papers. While reading both case studies and empirical research require close attention and scrutiny, evaluating empirical research requires a different "lens"—this note briefly outlines how to adopt this mindset. It includes a review of the major sections of an empirical research paper (Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion), as well as guidelines on how to evaluate each section.

    Keywords: Decision Making; Research; Cases; Perspective;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I. "Note on Evaluating Empirical Research." Harvard Business School Background Note 512-019, July 2011. (Revised August 2013.) View Details
  7. Better World Books

    Better World Books, a young start-up, provides a socially conscious alternative to Amazon, collecting and selling used books to keep them out of the waste stream, while donating a portion of their profits to support global literacy efforts. The case presents an emerging new business model: the for-profit "B corporation" designed to combine profits and mission. Founder Xavier Helgesen struggles with how to price his products to capture the value of their social good; how to manage multiple channels of distribution, including selling direct to consumers; and managing the social impact of negative public perceptions on the business once the company turns profitable.

    Keywords: Business Model; For-Profit Firms; Marketing Strategy; Social Marketing; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Public Opinion; Social Issues; Online Technology; Retail Industry;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Fiona Wilson, Jill Avery, and Thomas J. Steenburgh. "Better World Books." Harvard Business School Case 511-057, September 2010. (Revised April 2012.) View Details
  8. Better World Books Video

    This video contains an interview with David Murphy, CEO of Better World Books. Topics discussed include: the opportunities and constraints offered by having a social mission, an update on the company, and the future of Better World Books.

    Keywords: Growth and Development; Management Teams; Business Model; Social Enterprise; Publishing Industry;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Fiona Wilson, Jill Avery, and Thomas Steenburgh. "Better World Books Video." Harvard Business School Video Supplement 512-701, August 2011. View Details
  9. Local Motors: Designed by the Crowd, Built by the Customer

    In the wake of the meltdown among U.S. auto manufacturers in 2009, Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors, has a new approach for the automotive industry: decide which models are produced through online design competitions, and then allow customers to "build their own cars" from the winning designs. The case focuses on two key issues: Can Local Motors build a thriving online design community at a reasonable cost? And can customers be convinced to add their own sweat and labor to the manufacturing process? The case is written from the perspective of a start-up company seeking funding while trying to implement a novel business concept.

    Keywords: Business Startups; Customer Focus and Relationships; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Product Design; Product Development; Creativity; Social and Collaborative Networks; Customization and Personalization; Auto Industry; Manufacturing Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., and Jeremy Dann. "Local Motors: Designed by the Crowd, Built by the Customer." Harvard Business School Case 510-062, February 2010. (Revised September 2011.) View Details
  10. (PRODUCT) RED (A)

    Describes the launch and initial results of the (PRODUCT) RED campaign, a social marketing initiative conceived by U2's Bono and Bobby Shriver to combat AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. The company licensed the (RED) brand to partner companies, which initially included Gap, Apple, Motorola, Armani, and American Express. The business model was structured to benefit partner companies by increasing consumer purchases—of (RED)-branded products such as red iPods and phones—while also resulting in increased donations to the Global Fund.

    Keywords: Investment Funds; Giving and Philanthropy; Brands and Branding; Marketing Strategy; Social Marketing; Social Enterprise; Africa;

    Citation:

    Moon, Youngme E., Michael I. Norton, and David Chen. "(PRODUCT) RED (A)." Harvard Business School Case 509-013, July 2008. (Revised February 2009.) View Details
  11. (PRODUCT) RED (B)

    Updates the (PRODUCT) RED (A) case through early 2008, including announcements of new partner relationships (with Hallmark, Microsoft, and Dell) as well as new communications initiatives.

    Keywords: Communication; Brands and Branding; Marketing Strategy; Social Marketing; Partners and Partnerships; Social Enterprise; Africa;

    Citation:

    Moon, Youngme E., Michael I. Norton, and David Chen. "(PRODUCT) RED (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 509-014, July 2008. (Revised February 2009.) View Details
  12. elBulli: The Taste of Innovation

    Ferran Adrià, chef at elBulli, the highest-ranked restaurant in the world for two consecutive years, faces two related decisions. First, Adrià and his team must continue to develop new and different dishes for the ground-breaking cuisine at elBulli to guarantee a continuous stream of innovation, the cornerstone of the restaurant's success. In addition, they are also faced with the challenge of growing the business, exploring whether the core concepts from elBulli- this "taste of innovation"-can be applied to domains ranging from consulting to fast food. The case walks readers through an evening at elBulli by using the rave reviews of former patrons to capture the full experience, from the long trip required to get to the restaurant, to the tour, to descriptions of the meal itself.

    Keywords: Innovation and Invention; Growth and Development Strategy; Marketing Strategy; Creativity; Food and Beverage Industry; Spain;

    Citation:

    Norton, Michael I., Julian Villanueva, and Luc Wathieu. "elBulli: The Taste of Innovation." Harvard Business School Case 509-015, July 2008. (Revised March 2009.) (Also available in Spanish: 509S01-PDF-SPA.) View Details
  13. RKS Guitars

    RKS has designed a revolutionary electric guitar and needs to decide how to best market their innovation. The iconic status of existing electric guitars, and the lack of any recent radical innovations in the category, pose challenges in securing consumer adoption. If the company goes it alone, it needs to determine the type of consumer most likely to adopt the new product, taking into account the novel aspects of the RKS guitar. Alternatively, the company could find a marketing partner or license its novel design to a bigger player. Rich in descriptions of consumer behavior that enable a discussion of the process that would lead consumers to purchase a new product. Also, outlines the company's design philosophy, which was developed to help its designers get into the mind of the consumer.

    Keywords: Innovation and Invention; Marketing Strategy; Product Launch; Consumer Behavior; Product Design; Adoption;

    Citation:

    Ofek, Elie, Thomas J. Steenburgh, Michael I. Norton, and Kerry Herman. "RKS Guitars." Harvard Business School Case 507-003, October 2006. (Revised August 2007.) View Details
  14. Pitch Yourself!

    Helps students develop an elevator pitch for their most important asset—themselves. Before class students are asked to interview a potential employer and to develop preliminary elevator pitches. Once in class, students work through an exercise that helps them refine their elevator pitches and better understand several key marketing principles. Leads to an engaging and thought-provoking discussion.

    Keywords: Spoken Communication; Selection and Staffing; Job Interviews; Marketing; Personal Development and Career;

    Citation:

    Steenburgh, Thomas J., and Michael I. Norton. "Pitch Yourself!" Harvard Business School Exercise 508-039, September 2007. (Revised March 2009.) View Details
  15. Sell Yourself!

    Helps students develop an effective sales pitch for their greatest asset--themselves. Also, broadens their understanding of how salespeople sell products and services. Before class, students are asked to interview a potential employer and to develop a preliminary sales pitch. Once in class, students work through an exercise that helps them refine the sales pitch and better understand several key marketing principles. Leads to an engaging and thought-provoking discussion.

    Keywords: Marketing; Sales; Product; Service Operations; Interpersonal Communication; Personal Development and Career;

    Citation:

    Steenburgh, Thomas J., and Michael I. Norton. "Sell Yourself!" Harvard Business School Exercise 507-045, November 2006. View Details