I am an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University
I received my Ph.D. in social psychology from Cornell, and my work broadly falls within the judgment and decision making tradition, but is most heavily focused on judgment. Within that field, my work falls into three broad categories. My most active research area right now is work on moral judgment, including work on moral outrage following service failures, perceptions of virtue and vice, and perceptions of fairness. Second, I have several projects related to a specific type of judgments -- forecasts. This includes forecasting one’s own future performance (Critcher & Rosenzweig, 2014; Rosenzweig & Critcher, 2014), as well as forecasting other people’s consumption preferences. Finally, I have work that is related to judgments about the self. This includes research on self-knowledge and meta-knowledge: how we know what we know, and how aware we are of our own mental processes (Atir, Rosenzweig, & Dunning, 2015; Rosenzweig, 2016).
The projects I am most excited about currently fall under two broad umbrellas: moral judgment and self-knowledge.
In the domain of moral judgment, the most applied work I am doing focuses on corporate apologies and how they are received. We live in an era when customer relationship management and loyalty programs have become the norm; businesses identify their most valuable customers and treat the top twenty percent quite differently than the bottom eighty. But while inequitable treatment is most often deployed in the context of rewarding valuable customers, inequitable treatment can also be found in service recovery, when compensating customers who have been inconvenienced or mistreated. In six studies set across three different business contexts, I find that people are especially sensitive to—and angered by—inequitable compensation offered as part of an apology (Rosenzweig & Critcher, under review at JCR). We hypothesize that this is because apologies activate prescriptive norms associated with restorative justice—specifically the principle of proportionality—and inequitable remuneration violates those prescriptions. By exploring the conditions that elicit and moderate the impact apology has on people’s response to inequitable treatment, we gain insight into how companies can have their cake and eat it too—differentially compensate high status customers without (excessively) angering their broader customer base.
I am also investigating how people form judgments of greed. Public outcry over corporate greed is becoming increasingly commonplace; the pharmaceutical industry has been repeatedly rocked by media firestorms, including the recent one surrounding Mylan and its “greedy” price increases on the Epi-Pen. However there is remarkably little empirical or theoretical work on greed, and I feel this represents a big void in the literature waiting to be filled. What empirical work there is has suggested that people define greed as excessive acquisitiveness. Along with my co-author, I demonstrate that this definition of greed is insufficient: judgements of whether or not an act is greedy depend not only on the behavior of the actor, but also on its consequences for others (Helzer & Rosenzweig, R&R at OBHDP). Specifically, judgments of how greedy someone is are directly related to how much their action harms people – whether or not the actor was aware of those consequences.
Finally, personal gain serves as a ubiquitous motivating force behind immoral behavior—people lie, cheat, and steal predominantly to benefit themselves. Yet no research has directly examined how observers factor such benefits into their moral judgments of those acts. The (limited) relevant empirical work largely suggests that benefit to a perpetrator would be an aggravating factor in moral judgment. Yet, using a large stimuli set of real-world moral violations, I consistently find the opposite (Rosenzweig & Helzer, in prep). People treat benefit to a perpetrator as a mitigating factor: the more a perpetrator benefits from their own bad act, the less wrong that action seems.
In the domain of self-knowledge, I have a line of work investigating the causes of overclaiming – claiming knowledge that one cannot possibly have (in an experimental context because it involves claiming knowledge of politicians or historical events or scientific concepts that do not exist). Overclaiming is a widespread phenomenon with serious potential consequences in domains such as information seeking and advice giving. In work published in Psychological Science, my co-authors and I find that overclaiming is tied to self-perceived domain knowledge; for example, self-perceived knowledge within the domain of personal finance positively and causally predicts claiming knowledge of non-existent financial instruments (Atir, Rosenzweig, & Dunning, 2015). Genuine knowledge appears plays a protective role against overclaiming, as genuine knowledge is assessed more automatically, while deliberative processing appears to lead to overclaiming (Atir, Rosenzweig, & Dunning, in prep). Finally, in a third project I demonstrate that overclaiming is context dependent (Rosenzweig, Atir, & Dunning, in prep). What happens when we encounter unfamiliar people or concepts – like New Orleans politician Susan Guidry – surrounded by familiar ones like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama? Rather than highlighting one’s lack of knowledge by contrast, encountering unfamiliar concepts in a familiar context makes people more likely to overclaim, because the familiarity of the context increases their self-perceived domain knowledge.
Taking a different approach to meta-knowledge, I have recently published a solo-authored paper in Perspectives on Psychological Science. I explore the question of whether we can be aware of our own biased mental processes yet still believe their output – in essence can we successfully convince ourselves of something if we are aware that we are trying to do so (Rosenzweig, 2016)? A number of prominent psychologists have assumed that the answer is no, while I conduct an extensive review of the empirical literature and find evidence to the contrary. I then consider three ways people may achieve the apparent paradox of being aware of their own biased mental processes while also believing the conclusions that result from them. The third of these is a novel conceptual approach to the illusion of objectivity, which highlights the potential for dissociation between the objectivity of our mental processes and of our mental products. Finally, I outline the implications of this work for future theoretical and applied research in a wide range of areas, including self-serving biases, motivated reasoning, naive realism, self-deception, and the bias blind spot.
For the past four years I have taught the undergraduate marketing core, MKTG 3010. My class is the first exposure that Freeman students have to marketing, and the entry point to the discipline for marketing majors. Given that role, I have several objectives that guide my approach to teaching:
Create a collaborative learning environment: One of my primary goals is to make my class a collaborative learning environment, in which students take responsibility for their own learning and also support the learning of others. On the first day of class I conduct a group goal setting exercise, where I ask students to reflect on positive learning experiences they have had in the past. Students identify what they did to facilitate their own learning and what their teachers did to help them learn. After generating these lists as a group, I hold a tongue-in-cheek commitment ceremony, where students publicly commit to doing their part (like reading the chapters in advance, participating actively, etc.) , and I commit to the ways I will support them in their learning (providing real world examples, using multiple learning modalities, etc.) This exercise has been a powerful way to set the tone for the class, and the broader theme of personal responsibility for learning is one I return to throughout the course.
Make it engaging and applicable: Each of my class sessions is designed to foster discussion, and includes individual and group exercises which help students delve into the material more deeply. In order to give students hands on experience applying the concepts they are learning in class, each year I partner with a local non-profit or business. Students complete an individual semester-long project applying the principles we learn in class to that business, culminating with designing a promotional campaign to meet that company’s needs.
In graduate school, I participated in Cornell’s Prison Education Program, where I taught a semester-long social psychology course to prison guards. This class was full of opportunities to help students apply what they were learning to new contexts. For example, during a lecture on compliance, students mentioned that there had recently been a contentious union vote, with different correctional facilities diverging in whether the majority had voted to approve a new contract. I used this as an opportunity to have students analyze how the factors that shape compliance may have differed across facilities; my students lit up with the recognition that how the vote was recorded – open roll-call in some facilities and secret ballot in others – had shaped its outcome. Their final paper assignment asked them to analyze a situation they had encountered at work using the social psychological principles we had learned in class. One student presented an analysis of the factors that sparked a prison riot at her facility. Another student analyzed how benevolent and hostile sexism shaped her treatment as a female prison guard. Knowing my students were able to see their workplace through the lens of the material I taught them is deeply gratifying.
Let students know where the class is going and how it relates to where we’ve been: I strive to scaffold both individual lessons and broader course sections for students, providing them with an understanding of how each piece fits with the whole. My lectures are introduced in relationship to the material we have already covered, and my courses are structured into broader units in order to further highlight these connections. I start each lesson by presenting learning objectives, so that students understand what we’ll cover and what they should be able to know and do by the end of the lecture. I then return to these learning objectives at the end of the lecture to recap what we’ve done and provide questions that allow students to self-assess their knowledge.
Promote nuanced critical thinking: Finally, my goal is to encourage students to approach new material as active learners rather than passive consumers of knowledge. To this end, I try to communicate that the information presented in any course is not a static set of facts, but instead reflects an ongoing process of research and discovery. This includes presenting information in the broader context of what prompted lines of research, and communicating both what is contested in the academic literature (and among practitioners) and where open questions remain.
Teaching Evaluations: Please email me if you'd like copies of my teaching evaluations.