Grants & Awards

External Funding (in order of receipt)

Social Identity: A flexible conception of identity and shared narratives or a fixed trait?
Program: ERINN (Economic Research on Identity, Norms and Narratives), Center for the Study of African Economies, The University of Oxford
Award Amount: $62,000
Role: PI
Duration: 2019-Present
One view of how social identity impacts choice is that it is driven by a fixed individual propensity to be attached to an identity. However, a different conceptualization of social identity attachment is that strength-of-attachment waxes and wanes with situational features.  The intellectual merit of this research program is to identify parsimonious tests that distinguish between these two different concepts of how identity modulates behavior. Testing the “strength-of-attachment” conceptualization has considerable and important broader implications for how we model and craft policy-interventions that leverage social identity motivated behavior. If such phenomena as in-group favoritism are derived from attachment to group identity (and less from an individual tendency to be attached), then, and only then, does it makes sense to attempt to alter identity-motivated choice through framing our choices or creating policy interventions that alter the stories or narratives we tell. Further, the “strength of attachment” view has implications for the development of theory and the design of new methodologies for testing theories.
Project Title: Impacts of Heterogeneous Organizational Backgrounds and Social Norms on Employees’ Behaviors in Temporary Organizations: Focusing on Safety Behavior in Construction Projects
Directorate: Social, Behavioral and Economic Sci. (SBE) / Social and Economic Sci. (SES)
Program: Science of Organizations; NSF
Award Number: 1759199
Award Amount: $345,181
Role: Co-PI
Duration: 2018-Present
The intellectual merit is to extend theories on temporary organizations and organizational identification by identifying the mechanisms through which desirable social norms are translated into organization members’ behaviors with the help of organizational identification. Identifying effective managerial actions/strategies to increase workers’ project identification contributes to the development of organizational actions/strategies that can overcome heterogeneous organizational backgrounds and short tenure issue in a temporary organization, which eventually will improve employee behaviors like safety. Broader Impacts: The proposed research will contribute to developing cost-efficient and durable safety management strategies driven by positive social influence and the enhanced project identification of workers. This benefits the construction industry’s competitiveness and a wide variety of temporary organizations (e.g., R&D projects, task force, emergency response teams, international joint venture, and large scale events organizing committee), where multiple organizational backgrounds coexist and conflict with each other, and norms are fragmented. Effective education of students and professionals for climate and social influence-based management approaches increases the competitiveness of the U.S industries.
Project Title: Using Game Theory to assess the effects of social norms and social networks on adolescent smoking in schools: a proof of concept study
Program: Medical Research Council, UK
Award Amount: £729,225
Role: Co-PI
Duration: 2018-Present
Intellectual merit: Contrast two school-based smoking prevention interventions among adolescents in the UK and Colombia to test norms-based mechanisms of action, characterize the mechanisms of action of smoking prevention interventions in schools, learning lessons for future intervention research. The broader impacts range from improved understanding of underlying mechanisms of population level behavior change interventions, through improving the approaches to their evaluation and informing future policy agendas.
Project Title: Collaborative Research: SaTC Eager: Design, Perception, and Action – Engineering Information Give-Away
Directorate: Computer and Information Science and Engineering; NSF
Program: Secure and Trustworthy Computing (SaTC); NSF
Award Number: 1537483
Award Amount: $224,675
Role: PI
Duration: 2015-Present
The intellectual merit lies in using experiments to identifying the impact of design on the perception of social norms and subsequent information divulging behavior. We test econometrically an extension of the privacy calculus model that includes a preference for norm compliance, estimating an individual’s willingness to trade-off between privacy preserving behavior and compliance with sharing norms. We demonstrate how tools from different disciplines can be used to enhance understanding of design in cybersecurity and HCI.  Finally, the instruments we will design and test may be directly used to safeguard users from responding to malevolent norm-shaping interfaces. The broader impact stems from affecting discourse and development of tools for the study of user interfaces as embodiments of social norms and other aspects of the culture and organization that the interface represents.
Project Title: REU Site: Incentive Centered Design
Directorate: Social, Behavioral and Economic Sci. (SBE); NSF
Award Number: 1156469
Award Amount: $350,000
Role: PI
Duration: 2012-2016
Intellectual merit: This grant provides a diverse group of promising students with a short-term research experience to foster their intellectual growth as scientists, and to provide an important building block for a rewarding long-term career in the fields of social sciences and information technology unified by the incentive-centered design approach. The broader impacts are to supplement traditional undergraduate study with access to research experiences as well as a broad range of educational and social activities that forge the participating students into a community of scholars. Second, this program specifically targets those students who come from undergraduate institutions that may not have large research programs as well as students from under-represented populations in STEM fields.
Project title: Eager: The Covenants We Live By: Normative Social Influence on Behavior
Directorate: Social, Behavioral and Economic Sci. (SBE); NSF
Award Number: 1423043
Award Amount: $55,000
Role: PI
Intellectual Merit: This grant advances the study of the impact of social norms on choice by characterizing empirical regularities related to the emergence and transmission of norms and supporting the on-going development and validation of a Norm Elicitation Protocol.  One paper is currently in revise and resubmit status and three further projects are in development.  Broader Impacts: This work can be applied to those who seek to understand and shape behavior in arenas such as consumer, civic, or corporate behavior.
Project Title: Provider, Patient, and Health System Effects of Provider Commitments to Choose Wisely
Program: The Donaghue Foundation
Award Amount: $600,000
Role: Co-PI
Duration: 2012-2016
Intellectual Merit: Clinicians’ decisions to order potentially unnecessary services — such as those targeted in the Choosing Wisely® campaign — are often affected by their high-pressure practice environments, which can make it hard to consistently avoid ordering low-value care. The field of behavioral economics offers a promising and highly scalable approach to decreasing use of low-value services: asking clinicians to commit to avoid ordering such services and providing them and their patients with resources to support adherence to this commitment. We evaluate the effects of such an intervention, which we call Committing to Choose Wisely (CCW), across 2 large health systems through a mixed-methods, stepped wedge cluster randomized trial. In each of the study clinics, clinicians will be invited to commit to following a set of targeted Choosing Wisely recommendations. Clinicians, who make such a commitment, and their patients, will receive access to key resources to support adherence to this commitment. To measure the effects of the intervention, we use clinical automated data and focused medical record review data to examine rates of orders for targeted services before and after the intervention. Broader Impacts: We disseminate our findings widely by partnering with the Michigan State Medical Society, a Statewide Health Learning Collaborative, and a National Steering Committee comprised of key stakeholders, including leaders from Choosing Wisely, the American College of Physicians and Consumers Reports.
Project Title: Decreasing Overuse of Low-Value Health Care Services Through Physician Pre-commitment
Program: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Award Amount: $199,417
Role: Co-PI
Duration: 2013-2015
Intellectual merit: Physicians often make decisions about ordering low-value services during clinical encounters when their thinking can be rushed and susceptible to patient demands. Shifting physicians’ decisions about ordering low-value services to the pre-encounter period when their thinking is slower and more deliberative — and then inviting precommitment to avoid ordering a low-value service during the upcoming clinical encounter — offers a highly scalable solution that would readily generalize to a range of care settings. We conduct a mixed-methods stepped wedge cluster randomized trial in primary care clinics. At the start of the control period, physicians will be shown the 3 applicable Choosing Wisely recommendations. In the intervention period, physicians who will be seeing a patient for 1 of the 3 target conditions will be shown the applicable Choosing Wisely recommendation and invited to pre-commit to avoid ordering a low-value service for that patient. Physicians will remain free to order services at any time without penalty. After the intervention period, we will conduct surveys and semistructured interviews with physicians to gain a deep understanding of their responses to the intervention so as to optimize its design. Broader Impacts: through dissemination to practicing communities we have the opportunity to change how care is delivered.
Project Title: Impacts of Public Announcements of Goals and Outcomes on Goal Completion
Program: The Donoghue Foundation
Award Amount: $100,000
Role: Co-PI
Duration: 2012-2013
Intellectual Merit: We test the effect of public announcements of physical activity goals and of pre-committing to announcing the outcome through a controlled trial. All participants wear an uploading pedometer and access an online walking program (web interface was designed in-house). Daily step-count targets are exogenously set in an individually tailored way and automatically adjust on a weekly basis. In a between-subject design, subjects are in one of three conditions: goal setting and outcomes of goal attainment both only privately known, public goal setting (announcements are emailed to subjects’ friends) and outcomes of goal attainment kept private, public goal setting and outcomes of goal attainment are public (both announcement and outcome are emailed to friends).  Broader Impacts

University of Michigan (internal)

Elizabeth Crosby, 2015-2016, Award Amount: $15,609, PI
Distinguished Award for Interdisciplinary Sustainability (DOW), 2014-2015, Award Amount: $5,000, PI
Office of Research (UMOR), 2013-2015, Award Amount: $25,945, PI
Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) grant, 2013-2015, Amount: $12,971, PI
Elizabeth Crosby, 2012-2013, Award Amount: $12,233, PI
Rackham Summer Research support grant, 2011, Amount: $3,000
Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), 2011, Amount: $4,000, PI


DFG/NSF Travel Grant for Conference on Contextualizing Economic Behavior, 2008
Center for Behavioral Decision Research Small Grants Program, March 2006
Graduate Student Association, Graduate Conference Funding, March 2006
Ford Motor Company Graduate Student Research Grant, February 2006
Ford Motor Company Graduate Student Research Grant, September 2002
GuSH, Graduate Small Project Help, September 2002


Honored Instructor Award from University of Michigan Housing, 2018-2019
University of Michigan School of Information Outstanding Teacher Award, 2010-2011

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