Broadly, I aim to better understand how to manage interpersonal conflict, especially conflict involving communication (or its absence). My interest and goal is to examine the implications of these phenomena for organizations, specifically conflict management, workplace incivility, and negotiation.
The central focus of my work is communication about credit and blame. George Loewenstein and I have developed Responsibility Exchange Theory, which links four communications previously considered unrelated—thanking, apologizing, bragging, and blaming—and provides an explanation for why these forms of supposed “cheap talk” carry so much meaning for people and why people are sometimes reluctant to send them. With a background in Behavioral Decision Research, I combined experimental, qualitative, and observational techniques across a series of studies to test the theory’s predictions. This work not only contributes to psychological theory but also has diverse practical applications.
In other, related streams of research, I investigate whether, when, and how people explain difficult choices to others, self-deprecate as a way to prevent others from feeling threatened, and punish bystanders who fail to get involved in transgressions they observe.
Other research interests include:
- impression management / person perception
- interpersonal communication and politeness
- incivility / conflict management
- risk perception and risk communication