Silvia Saccardo, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Management in the Social and Decision Sciences department in the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. Our conversation with Silvia is the fourth in our series on Carnegie Mellon professors. 

We sat down with Silvia in Porter Hall on a chilly day at CMU to discuss her findings on how motivated cognition and hidden biases shape our ethical (and unethical) decision-making. Her research on bribery and lying has been published in top peer-reviewed journals and we found her work with the Dictator Game particularly interesting, especially as it relates to measuring what we consider ethical behavior.

Dr. Saccardo uses the Dictator Game in her research in a unique way. In one case, she set up the game to put people in situations where they can lie to other players and the results are fascinating. We also discussed the way people are more likely to give blunt feedback to out-group rather than in-group associates. Her findings reveal very interesting aspects of the human condition and how we respond to it.

In our grooving session, we discuss the impact of what some people might consider small acts of kindness and how those acts may be construed as small acts of bribery in certain situations (i.e., dinners and small gifts). 

This conversation triangulated connections between two of our favorite Behavioral Grooves guests and Silvia and we couldn’t help but call attention to them: Francesca Gino, PhD as a fellow Italian American, and Christina Gravert, PhD as a co-author of papers with Silvia. 

We also want to thank Silvia for the opportunity to guest lecture and meet a classroom full of her uber-engaged and enthusiastic students. What a treat.



Silvia Saccardo:


Carnegie Mellon University:

CMU Social and Decision Sciences Department:

Saccardo, Silvia, Aniela Pietrasz, and Uri Gneezy. "On the Size of the Gender Difference in Competitiveness." Management Science. Forthcoming.

Gneezy, Uri, Christina Gravert, Silvia Saccardo, and Franziska Tausch. "A must lie situation–avoiding giving negative feedback." Games and Economic Behavior 102 (2017): 445-454.



Andrea Bocelli:


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and

Listen to Behavioral Grooves:

At this writing, we’ve recorded and published 64 episodes of Behavioral Grooves and we’d like to make sure we’re on the right course for our listeners. If you would be so kind, we would appreciate hearing the answers to two questions at #behavioralgrooves.


Question 1: Why do you listen?

Question 2: What keeps you listening?


Thanks very much and keep on grooving!

Daniel Oppenheimer, PhD, known to all as “Danny,” is a professor of psychology in the Social and Decision Sciences department in the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. This is the third episode in our Carnegie Mellon series, and Danny is a researcher with a wide variety of curiosities. His writings have been published in more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, as well as a number of book chapters and media contributions. Among his notable works, he co-authored Democracy Despite Itself: Why a System That Shouldn’t Work at All Works So Well, published by the MIT Press, and Psychology: A Cartoon Introduction, a cartoon book published by WW Norton on, you guessed it, the simple and humorous aspects of psychology.  

He is also an esteemed recipient of the Ig Nobel award for his paper titled “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.” Need we say more?  

We spoke at length about how a person’s take on helicopter (and submarine) parenting strongly correlates to their view of governance. These findings cross-party affiliation and self-identification as liberal or conservative and can also vary from topic to topic. All in, it’s a fascinating discussion.

We recorded our discussion with Danny just a couple of weeks before the 2019 college admissions bribery scandal was brought to light. We discuss the implications of Danny’s observations in our grooving session.

Danny shared that he’s lived for long periods without a mobile phone and that he prefers delegating his music selection to radio DJ’s, who might be considered expert in this situation, to bring him new music without the stress of finding it himself.

In our grooving session, we returned to helicopter and submarine parenting styles and how they might impact the next generation of entrepreneurship, corporate policies and management styles. We also spend some time on the ways business leaders manage data inputs from various sources and the potential impact these decisions have.

We hope you enjoy our discussion with Danny and that you subscribe to Behavioral Grooves at the link below. It’s free!



Danny Oppenheimer:

Carnegie Mellon University: 

CMU Social and Decision Sciences Department: 

“Democracy Despite Itself: Why a System That Shouldn’t Work at All Works So Well” (MIT Press)

“Psychology: A Cartoon Introduction,” (WW Norton)

“Easy does it: The role of fluency in cue weighting,” Anuj K. Shah and Daniel M. Oppenheimer, Princeton University:

 “The Science of Giving: Experimental Approaches to the Study of Charity”


George Lakoff:

Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff: “The Coddling of the American Mind”


Helicopter parenting:

Free-Range parenting:

Snowplow parenting:

Submarine parenting:

College Admissions Bribery Scandal:

Mechanical Turk:

Postmodern Jukebox:


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and

Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves:

Jeff Galak, PhD is a professor at the Social and Decision Sciences department in the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. Jeff’s primary assignment is as an Associate Professor of Marketing in Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business; however, he is on loan to the Social & Decision Sciences department in the Dietrich College, which is where we caught up with him. This is the second in the series featuring professors from Carnegie Mellon.

Jeff earned his PhD from NYU and often works on research projects across functions, making him a terrific fit for the already-interdisciplinary department of Social & Decision Sciences. He’s so fond of collaboration, he’s even published peer-reviewed papers about how scientific research benefits from it.

Jeff’s research expertise spans a wide variety of topics and interests including consumer behavior, consumer psychology, as well as judgment and decision making. His findings have been published in top academic journals and he has presented his research at top marketing and psychology conferences worldwide. He’s a very curious guy and we found him engaging as he shared his work and the applications of it.

In our discussion with Jeff, he discussed a few of his research initiatives and focused on three areas: (1) his findings in new research on hedonic decline, (2) how high heels became the measure for the social implications of moving to and from a different socio-economic zip codes and (3) we talked about political lies and two primary subcategories we see in political lying: Lies about policies and lies about personal things. His research reveals how we tend to disregard one more than the other.

In our grooving session, we tackle the work and life implications to some of Jeff’s findings. Specifically, we discussed how product developers can create more successful products by leveraging both simplicity and complexity and we discussed implications of high-heeled social changes.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with the very curious researcher, Jeff Galak.



Jeff Galak/CMU:

Jeff Galak/personal:

Carnegie Mellon University:

CMU Social and Decision Sciences Department: 

On hedonic decline: When It Could Have Been Worse, It Gets Better: The Effect of Uncertainty on Hedonic Adaptation

On socio-economic status and sales of high heels: Trickle-down preferences: Preferential conformity to high status peers in fashion choices

Clayton Critcher, UC Berkeley:


“Let It Go” (Frozen Soundtrack):

“Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen):

“Bohemian Rhapsody” (Lake Street Dive)

“The Entertainer” (Billy Joel) “…and they cut it down to 3:05”:

Toto (founded in 1977) recorded “Africa” in 1982:

 “Aja” (Steely Dan):


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and

Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves:

This is the first in a series featuring researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Social and Decision Sciences (SDS) department in the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences. We begin with SDS professor, author, researcher and department chair, Linda Babcock, PhD.

Linda is the James M. Walton Professor of Economics at CMU and a member of the Russell Sage Foundation’s Behavioral Economics Roundtable. Linda has served the National Science Foundation and is the founder and faculty director of the non-profit Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society (PROGRESS). She’s been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, the Harvard Business School, and the California Institute of Technology.

Linda’s research intersects economics and psychology where she focuses on negotiations and dispute resolution. Her work has appeared in the most prestigious economics, industrial relations, psychology, and law journals around the world. Her work has been covered by hundreds of newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and abroad, and she has appeared on numerous television and radio programs discussing her work.

In a recent book with Sara Laschever, Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, the authors focus on the importance of women initiating negotiations and the authors explore the societal factors that hold women back from asking for what they want.  

In our discussion with Linda, we talked about how working women face more than a glass ceiling, they face something like a labyrinth. We covered the importance of negotiations, and how women need to pay attention to the non-promotable tasks they do at work. And we discussed the importance of interdisciplinary work and the tremendous benefits generated by a department like SDS. Linda shares how great it is that economists, psychologists and astrophysicists sit side-by-side to solve problems in the same department.

In our grooving session, we dive deeper into the practical business applications of Linda’s directive for men to stop asking women to do stuff, how the cross-disciplinary groups serve businesses as well as academic institutions, and we revisit her tips on the importance of negotiation and being mindful about what tasks you do at work. 

A note of gratitude: We are grateful to Linda for her efforts in coordinating the SDS series. We are also grateful to all the professors who took time to sit with us – we enjoyed each one! In aggregate, this series was a tremendous amount of fun for us to record and publish. Thank you, CMU, and thank you SDS.



Linda Babcock:

Babcock, Linda & Laschever, Sara (2004). Women Don't Ask Negotiation and the Gender Divide, Princeton Press: Princeton, NJ.

Babcock, Linda & Laschever, Sara (2008). Asking for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want. Bantam Books: New York City.

Carnegie Mellon University: 

CMU Social and Decision Sciences Department: 

Robert Cialdini, PhD:

Eagly, A. H., & Carli, L. L. (2007). Through the labyrinth: The truth about how women become leaders. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Linda Carli, PhD (Wellsley College):

Alice Eagly (Northwestern University):


Bruno Mars “That’s What I Like”

Parliament “Bring the Funk”

Run DMC “Walk This Way” (Aerosmith cover)


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and

Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves:


Looking for a simple 5-step plan to be happier? Our guest has one.

Amit Sood, PhD is an author and physician at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota. He specializes in pediatrics, internal medicine and oncology and he also maintains certificates in acupressure, yoga and reiki. His books include two particularly relevant volumes that formed the basis of our discussion: The Guide to Stress-Free Living and Handbook for Happiness. He’s a remarkably well-rounded and humble healthcare practitioner as well as a highly productive author.  It’s clear from talking with him that he cares deeply about his patients and the quality of his work. His passion was inspirational for us and we hope you have the same experience.

Our conversation focused on the topic of happiness: things we do to increase it and things we do to reduce it.  Amit shared some fascinating insights into specific things that we can do to increase our happiness and we were glad to speak with him.    

In the grooving session, Kurt and Tim wove these insights into a broader fabric of the environment we’re in when we go to work.  Specifically, we addressed how different types of interactions – contentious, transactional or affiliative – influence our happiness and our productivity in the office.  We also deliberated the human condition’s increasing need for responsiveness and how our patience for what we consider a socially-acceptable wait time is growing shorter.

Finally, Kurt and Tim discussed the importance of intentionality that Amit believes is foundational to living a happy life, which acted as a springboard for Kurt to ask, “What song would you have wanted to write?” That question quickly got our brains into some miraculous and happy dreaming.

We hope you enjoy our discussion with Amit Sood and, if you do, please leave us a very brief review on your favorite listening app.


Amit Sood, PhD: and

Mayo Clinic:

The Guide to Stress-Free Living:

Handbook for Happiness:


A Fragile Culture (by Jonathan Haidt):

In My Life (Paul McCartney & John Lennon):

Eleanor Rigby (Paul McCartney & John Lennon):

If We Were Vampires (by Jason Isbell):

People Are People (by Depeche Mode):


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and


Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves:

Imagine a company where 100% of the employees are rebels – would it be chaotic or wonderful? Our guest from the Harvard Business School, Francesca Gino PhD, argues that rebels are not just essential, but they can improve corporate effectiveness.

Francesca is a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School who describes herself as a curious behavioral scientist, passionate about teaching and helping leaders make wiser decisions that can improve their lives and those of the people around them. She’s the author of dozens of peer-reviewed articles on decision making and her books include Sidetracked (2013), and more recently, Rebel Talent, that covers a body of research findings highlighting why the most successful people break the rules, and how rebellion brings joy and meaning into our lives.

Our discussion revealed that Francesca isn’t the kind of person who just doles out good advice, she often tests it out first on herself, her husband and children, her students and colleagues and even the business leaders she consults with! She’s a rebel thinker and doer and her drive to discover answers to the why-we-do-what-we-do question is without limits.

Her findings reveal key methods that companies can use to help employees remain curious and to steer employees clear of the day-to-day ruts that are so easy to fall into.

In the grooving session that follows our discussion with Francesca, we dig deeper into the application of curiosity, psychological safety and extremely powerful (and portable) conversation too, “Yes, and…” Kurt and Tim share ways in which we’ve seen “yes, and…” is applied successfully in workshops, brainstorming sessions, corporate meetings, and presentations in the corporate world.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with the rebel Francesca Gino.

If you enjoyed this episode, please don’t hesitate to give us a positive rating on your favorite podcatching service.



Francesca Gino:

Rebel Talent:


After the episode, Francesca told us that she listened to Youngblood’s version of 5 Seconds of Summer:

Julia Minson, PhD at the Kennedy School at Harvard:

Pixar Animation Studios:

The Ballad of Lucinda (by Tim Houlihan):

Blog Post on PADI certification (by Ben Granlund):

St. Vincent (on sounds):

Blasphemous Rumors (by Depeche Mode):

Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and


Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves:

In this episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with two guests: Jeanie Whinghter, PhD and Afra Ahmad, PhD. Jeanie is the Chair of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and General Psychology at Capella University. Her research focuses on the manifestations of stressors and strains in alternative work arrangements and was in Memphis when we spoke.  Afra was in Dubai at Zayed University but will begin a new role in the summer of 2019 as Director of the Masters in Professional Studies in Applied Industrial and Organizational Psychology at George Mason University. Her research emphasizes diversity and inclusion and she has been authored chapters in books, published in Harvard Business Review, as well as in peer-reviewed journals.

Both are researchers, teachers, wives, mothers and truly fascinating people. We were grateful to be able to speak to them in advance the SIOP – the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology – conference in April 2019. At the conference, they’ll unveil an interactive workshop to illuminate the challenges of trying to “have it all.” Inspired by a satirical article in The New Yorker magazine (citation below), the idea of having it all has plagued women, especially, who strive to be successful at parenting and a career at the same time. Jeanie and Afra are advocating an approach that focuses on harmony rather than balance.

Our conversation first centered around their research and revealed insights for those struggling to have it all. More timely, we discussed their SIOP session.

After the formal discussion, with the tape still rolling, we talked in greater depth about their unique, interactive structure for their SIOP session and how surprising it is that more conferences don’t feature non-traditional, participant engagement sessions.

To learn more about the SIOP session itself, listen to our grooving session which immediately follows the discussion with Jeanie and Afra. If you’d like to skip straight there, check out the discussion starting around 51:40. There we also tackled the concepts of work-life harmony and the importance of allies.

Our grooving session continued with the challenges nursing mothers face when no nursing rooms exist. And we talked about the use of harmony is songwriting. 

Select Links

Jeanie Whinghter, PhD:

Afra Ahmad, PhD: 


SIOP – Society for Industry & Organizational Psychology:

Inspiration for the workshop from this article in The New Yorker:

Jeff Bezos on Work/Life Balance:

Jeff Bezos on Harmony vs. Balance:

Leading the Life You Want, by Stuart Friedman, PhD (Wharton Professor) 2014:

Research on how we always think we do the most work at home by Yavorsky, Dush and Sullivan, especially after a baby comes into the house: “The Production of Inequality: The Gender Division of Labor Across the Transition to Parenthood.”

Bentley University’s Center for Women in Business (Waltham, Massachusetts) 2017 report: “Men as Allies: Engaging Men to Advance Women in the Workplace.” A growing trend.

Baby Shark:

Alicia Keys, Girl on Fire:

Tim Houlihan, Beneath the Surface of the Well:

Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and


Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves:

Michael Kaplan is a private equity and angel investor who was part owner and president of the wildly successful carpet cleaning franchise called Zerorez. (Note that it’s spelled the same backward as it is forward. A classic palindrome!)  He is now associated with Red Hook Investments and is actively finding new ways to help small service companies grow.  

Michael grew up in Minneapolis, moved to Maine (undergrad) then to Atlanta (for barbeque and bourbon) then to Boston (pondering a Jimmy John’s franchise) then to Minneapolis (law school) and stayed to help turnaround a troubled carpet cleaning business in 2009.

We talked about his life and business journey and discovered that the underlying themes he lived by are replicable. (We cover them in depth during our grooving session following the discussion with Michael.)  We talked about how people make decisions and what data goes into those decisions; how framing impacts us from the name of our company to why we work; and we all long to have a sense of purpose and build a community – even at work! 

When Michael brought up the importance of having naysayers in the decision-making process, we felt right at home because of Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets. This led us to view Michael’s successes through two important lenses: First, how he actively seeks out counterintuitive thinking. He dives deep and often reframes issues to reveal better answers. When there was trouble hiring the right people, he shared how Zerorez adapted the jobs to the marketplace rather than assuming the market would simply come around to his business needs.

Second, we saw his tremendous attention to reworking ideas as he noted, “Whatever system you're implementing, it's going to be wrong. You have to tweak it, you have to get out in the real world and figure out where my assumption's correct.”

Of course, we talked about music and his affection for having a local radio station curate playlists. The radio brings him both familiar and new tunes on a regular basis and he likes the mix of hearing Sinatra after the Lumineers.

We hope you enjoy the conversation with Michael and take a moment to give Behavioral Grooves a quick review on your favorite podcatcher.



Red Hook Investments:

4-drive model (Lawrence & Nohria):

French cooking music:

Steve Miller Band “Swing Town”:

Twin Reverb amplifier:

The Current radio station:

June Carter Cash:


Annie Duke, Thinking in Bets:



Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves:

Kurt Nelson, PhD: and

Tim Houlihan: and


March 6, 2019

Grooving on Reciprocity

This is the second episode in a series on the 6 Principles of Persuasion as identified by Robert Cialdini, PhD, in his 1984 book, Influence. (The first episode in the series was on consistency – with the link below.) In this grooving session, Kurt and Tim discuss reciprocity, the first principle of influence, its roots and how it shows up in our world today.

Reciprocity is when we feel obliged to give back to people who have given to us. The operative word is given, to differentiate the experience from a contractual exchange like a loan or a quid pro quo. Reciprocity shows up not only in what we do but also how we do it. A great example is a study conducted by Cialdini, et. al, to measure how leaving a mint with a restaurant bill makes a difference in the size of the tip left for the server. The results are remarkable – but you’ll have to listen to find out what’s even more fascinating in this study.

We talk about reciprocity as a social construct and a social obligation to keep our social credit strong. We talk about its roots in anthropological terms and how the humans need communities to survive and reciprocity helps maintain the community.

We hope you enjoy this grooving session on one of our favorite topics: reciprocity.


Episode on Consistency:

Cialdini’s HBR article on harnessing the power of persuasion:

Cialdini’s principles:

Link to Influence:!/Paperbacks/c/2254134/offset=0&sort=normal

Social Construct and Retaliation:

Obligation principle:


Kurt Nelson, PhD: or Twitter @motivationguru 

Tim Houlihan: or Twitter @THoulihan


Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves:

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