Doctoral Student

Ting Zhang

Ting Zhang is a doctoral student in the Organizational Behavior Program at Harvard Business School. Her dissertation focuses on the psychology of rediscovery, the process of revisiting experiences of the past. Through lab and field experiments, she explores (1) how individuals overlook the value of rediscovery and (2) how the act of rediscovery is a simple but powerful intervention that improves individuals’ interactions with one another and their engagement in their work.

More broadly, she designs interventions that individuals can readily implement themselves to improve their well-being and decision making. In her second stream of research, she studies interventions that help individuals and organizations improve ethical decision making. One of her projects demonstrates that although individuals tend to approach ethical dilemmas with a “What should I do?” mindset, adopting a “What could I do” mindset better equips individuals to generate moral insight.

She graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. in Economics. 

Ting Zhang is a doctoral student in the Organizational Behavior Program at Harvard Business School. Her dissertation focuses on the psychology of rediscovery, the process of revisiting experiences of the past. Through lab and field experiments, she explores (1) how individuals overlook the value of rediscovery and (2) how the act of rediscovery is a simple but powerful intervention that improves individuals’ interactions with one another and their engagement in their work.

More broadly, she designs interventions that individuals can readily implement themselves to improve their well-being and decision making. In her second stream of research, she studies interventions that help individuals and organizations improve ethical decision making. One of her projects demonstrates that although individuals tend to approach ethical dilemmas with a “What should I do?” mindset, adopting a “What could I do” mindset better equips individuals to generate moral insight.

She graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. in Economics. 

Journal Articles

  1. A 'Present' for the Future: The Unexpected Value of Rediscovery

    Ting Zhang, Tami Kim, Alison Wood Brooks, Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton

    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 25, no. 10 (October 2014): 1851–1860. View Details

Book Chapters

  1. Managerial Decision Biases

    Ting Zhang and Max Bazerman

    Citation:

    Zhang, Ting, and Max Bazerman. "Managerial Decision Biases." In Encyclopedia of Management Theory. Volume 1 edited by Eric H. Kessler, 470–474. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2013. View Details

Working Papers

  1. Does 'Could' Lead to Good? Toward a Theory of Moral Insight

    Ting Zhang, Francesca Gino and Joshua Margolis

    We introduce the construct of moral insight and study how it can be elicited when people face ethical dilemmas—challenging decisions that feature tradeoffs between competing and seemingly incompatible values. Moral insight consists of discovering solutions that move beyond selecting one conflicting ethical option over another. Moral insight encompasses both a cognitive process and a discernible output: it involves the realization that an ethical dilemma might be addressed other than by conceding one set of moral imperatives to meet another, and it involves the generation of solutions that allow competing objectives to be met. Across four studies, we find that moral insight is generated when individuals are prompted to consider the question "What could I do?" in place of their intuitive approach of considering "What should I do?" Together, these studies point toward a theory of moral insight and important practical implications.

    Keywords: Moral insight; Ethical dilemma; Could mindset; creativity; Divergent thinking; Moral Sensibility; Creativity; Decision Choices and Conditions;

    Citation:

    Zhang, Ting, Francesca Gino, and Joshua Margolis. "Does 'Could' Lead to Good? Toward a Theory of Moral Insight." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-118, June 2014. View Details
  2. The Surprising Effectiveness of Hostile Mediators

    Ting Zhang, Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton

    Contrary to the tendency of mediators to diffuse negative emotions between adversaries by treating them kindly, we demonstrate the surprising effectiveness of hostile mediators in resolving conflict. Adversaries seem less negative in the presence of hostile mediators, leading to greater willingness to reach agreements (Experiment 1). We find that hostile mediators serve as points of contrast, making adversaries appear warmer in comparison (Experiments 2a and 2b). Hostile mediators lead negotiators to prefer interacting with their counterparts over the mediator, increasing negotiators' propensity to reach agreements in incentive-compatible negotiations (Experiment 3). Finally, we show that hostility is not universally beneficial: hostile mediators increase willingness to reach agreement when their hostility provides meaningful information about their counterparts' relative degree of hostility, but not when counterparts have already established the potential to be reasonable (Experiment 4). We discuss theoretical and practical implications.

    Keywords: mediation; conflict; negotiation; emotions; hostility; Negotiation; Emotions; Conflict and Resolution;

    Citation:

    Zhang, Ting, Francesca Gino, and Michael I. Norton. "The Surprising Effectiveness of Hostile Mediators." Working Paper, January 2014. View Details
  3. Overcoming the Outcome Bias: Making Intentions Matter

    Ovul Sezer, Ting Zhang, Francesca Gino and Max Bazerman

    People often make the well-documented mistake of paying too much attention to outcomes of others' actions while neglecting information about the original intentions leading to those outcomes. In four experiments, we examine interventions aimed at reducing the outcome bias. Contrary to our initial predictions, individuals weighed others' outcomes more—not less—when fair intentions leading to undesirable outcomes and selfish intentions leading to desirable outcomes were presented jointly rather than separately (Experiment 1). Separate evaluation reduced the outcome bias even when participants were merely observers unaffected by the outcomes reached (Experiment 2). Complex information intensified the outcome bias under joint evaluation (Experiment 3). Finally, raising the salience of intentions prior to discovering outcomes helped joint evaluators overcome the outcome bias (Experiment 4).

    Keywords: outcome bias; intentions; joint evaluation; judgment; separate evaluation; Prejudice and Bias; Outcome or Result;

    Citation:

    Sezer, Ovul, Ting Zhang, Francesca Gino, and Max Bazerman. "Overcoming the Outcome Bias: Making Intentions Matter." Working Paper, April 2014. View Details