During my time working with the Behavioral Change for Good (BCFG) team, I got to experience the different aspects of social science research. I assisted with literature reviews, data collection, and material preparation for several projects.
The first project looks at social identity and competition. I conducted a literature review about the cognitive and behavioral effects of competition, and the relationship between social comparison and competition. Existing research suggest that people generally tend to join groups whose members share their social identity. However, BCFG team members found that when women and minorities anticipate competition, they are more likely to choose to join groups in which they will stand out. This study provides insight into how members of historically underrepresented groups choose which teams to join in the workplace or accept one job offer over another. It could be applied to understand how to improve diversity in the workplace, which is associated with enhanced organizational performance.
A second project looks at increasing charitable giving, which is undoubtedly an important source of aid to those in need in society. This study aims to investigate new messaging strategies to increase donation to charities. I conducted a literature review on indirect reciprocity, altruistic behavior and field experiments on charitable giving. I found that several factors are known to affect people’s willingness to donate and the amount they would donate, such as social pressure, contribution matching, how the donation message was communicated, and whether a specific victim was identified.
I also created videos that will be used in a study that will test how the behaviors of racial or gender outliers in a group impact what is perceived as the group norm. For this study, participants will look at videos featuring people of different races and genders opening a door to a room with time stamps on the screen. They will be told that the people in the video are attending a conference and asked what they think is the appropriate time to arrive at the conference. The results are expected to be correlated to the race and gender composition of the people in the videos. To create videos that participants will watch and evaluate in the study, I recruited volunteers of different races and genders to be filmed opening a door. I then edited the videos and embedded them into a Qualtrics survey, which asks participants what the race and gender of the people in the video are. The importance of this step is to ensure that the videos are interpreted as we expected.
This experience allowed me to satisfy my curiosity in behavioral science and learn how research in social science is conducted. I was able to improve my communication skills through working with others and recruiting volunteers. I also learned how to publish surveys on Qualtrics and edit videos, and I gained a lot of knowledge in psychology through conducting literature reviews. This was a very interesting and fulfilling experience.