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The EA Behavioral Science Newsletter

June 2022 

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📚 Summary

📖 Eighteen publications

📝 Five preprints & articles

💬 Thirteen forum posts

🎧/🎦 Five podcasts/videos

💰 Three funding opportunities 

💼 One job

🗓 One event

👨‍🔬 Samantha Kassirer profiled

📖 Publications

Humans first: Why people value animals less than humans

Lucius Caviola, Stefan Schubert, Guy Kahane & Nadira S. Faber

Cognition (2022)



People routinely give humans moral priority over other animals. Is such moral anthropocentrism based in perceived differences in mental capacity between humans and non-humans or merely because humans favor other members of their own species? We investigated this question in six studies (N = 2217). We found that most participants prioritized humans over animals even when the animals were described as having equal or more advanced mental capacities than the humans. This applied to both mental capacity at the level of specific individuals (Studies 1a-b) and at the level typical for the respective species (Study 2). The key driver behind moral anthropocentrism was thus mere species-membership (speciesism). However, all else equal, participants still gave more moral weight to individuals with higher mental capacities (individual mental capacity principle), suggesting that the belief that humans have higher mental capacities than animals is part of the reason that they give humans moral priority.

Notably, participants found mental capacity more important for animals than for humans—a tendency which can itself be regarded as speciesist. We also explored possible sub-factors driving speciesism. We found that many participants judged that all individuals (not only humans) should prioritize members of their own species over members of other species (species-relativism; Studies 3a-b). However, some participants also exhibited a tendency to see humans as having superior value in an absolute sense (pro-human species-absolutism, Studies 3–4). Overall, our work demonstrates that speciesism plays a central role in explaining moral anthropocentrism and may be itself divided into multiple sub-factors.


Leveraging social cognition to promote effective climate change mitigation

Mélusine Boon-Falleur, Aurore Grandin, Nicolas Baumard & Coralie Chevallier 

Nature Climate Change (2022)


Effective climate change mitigation is a social dilemma: the benefits are shared collectively but the costs are often private. To solve this dilemma, we argue that we must pay close attention to the nature and workings of human cooperation. We review three social cognition mechanisms that regulate cooperation: norm detection, reputation management and fairness computation. We show that each of these cognitive mechanisms can stand in the way of pro-environmental behaviours and limit the impact of environmental policies. 

At the same time, the very same mechanisms can be leveraged as powerful solutions for an effective climate change mitigation. Human cooperation, which is essential for climate action, is shaped by the social cognition of individuals. This Review examines three mechanisms that play an important role in discouraging pro-environmental behaviours, but which can also provide effective solutions for collective action.

The Good-on-Paper Effect: How the Decision Context Influences Virtuous Behavior

Maferima Touré-Tillery & Lili Wang 

Marketing Science (2022)


In a series of 10 studies, we find that people are more likely to make virtuous decisions on paper than on a digital device because they perceive choices on paper as more real (i.e., tangible, actual, and belonging to the physical rather than the virtual world) and hence as more self-diagnostic (i.e., representative of who they are). We first show people express more interest in donating and volunteering (Studies 1a and 1b), are more likely to donate (Study 2), and put more effort into helping a charitable cause (Study 3) when these choices occur on paper (versus tablet)—a pattern of decision making we label the good-on-paper effect

Study 4 extends these findings to book choices (highbrow versus lowbrow) and to a device interaction that closely mimics writing on paper (i.e., tablet with digital pen). In the context of volunteering decisions, we then provide evidence for the sequential mediating roles of perceptions of realness and self-diagnosticity in the good-on-paper effect (Study 5 and Studies 6a and 6b). Finally, we show that chronic (Study 7) and situational (Study 8) perceptions of self-diagnosticity moderate this effect in the contexts of environmental protection and food choices (healthy versus indulgent), respectively. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.

Other publications

📝 Preprints & articles
💬 Forum posts
🎧/🎦 Audio-visual
💰 Funding


💼 Jobs & volunteering
🗓 Events
👨‍🔬 Researcher profile
Samantha Kassirer

What is your background?
 Hello! I am a PhD candidate in Management & Organizations (MORS) at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. I have also received a Bachelor’s of Science from The Ohio State University in Social Psychology, a Master’s of Arts in Social Science from the University of Chicago, and a Master’s of Science in Management and Organizations from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.


What is your research area?

Moral psychology and organization science

What are you planning to focus on in the future?
 My research focuses on the following topics, in no particular order:
1. The psychological and cultural processes of moralization
2. Antecedents and impediments to effective, longterm, and habitual prosocial/charitable behavior
3. The psychology of charitable receiving and the psychology of suffering
4. Empirical global priorities research

Do you want help or collaborators, if so who?

Anyone interested in these research topics; especially those who have the bandwidth to lead projects. I’m also interested in learning from qualitative and big data social scientists, so if that’s you please reach out!

Do you want to share some of your work?
Decisional autonomy undermines advisees’ judgments
of experts in medicine and in life

People Are Slow to Adapt to the Warm Glow of Giving

Presentation: Donating or Volunteering: Which altruism feels more effective?

[You can contact Samantha at samantha.kassirer@gmail.com]


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Peter with help from Kai


Previous editions: 

1, 2, 3, 4





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