Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth
  • Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    3675 Market Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

Research Interests: motivation, personality, psychology of effort

Links: CV

Overview

Angela Duckworth is faculty co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change for Good Initiative and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics.

A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Angela has advised the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs on capabilities other than innate ability that determine achievement.

Prior to her career in research, Angela founded a summer school for underserved children that was profiled as a Harvard Kennedy School case study and, in 2018, celebrated its 25th anniversary. She has also been a McKinsey management consultant and a public school math and science teacher..

Angela completed her undergraduate degree in Advanced Studies Neurobiology at Harvard, graduating magna cum laude. With the support of a Marshall Scholarship, she completed an MSc with Distinction in Neuroscience from Oxford University. She completed her PhD in Psychology as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

Angela’s TED talk is among the most-viewed of all time. Her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance is a #1 New York Times best seller. Angela is also co-host, with Stephen Dubner, of the podcast No Stupid Questions.

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Research

  • Katherine L. Milkman... et al. Christophe Van den Bulte, Kevin Volpp, Angela Duckworth (2021), A megastudy of text-based nudges encouraging patients to get vaccinated at an upcoming doctor’s appointment, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118 (20). 10.1073/pnas.2101165118

  • Katherine L. Milkman... et al. Christophe Van den Bulte, Kevin Volpp, Angela Duckworth (2021), A Mega-Study of Text-Message Nudges Encouraging Patients to Get Vaccinated at their Pharmacy,.

  • Erika Kirgios, Graelin Mandel, Yeji Park, Katherine L. Milkman, Dena Gromet, Joseph S. Kay, Angela Duckworth (2020), Teaching temptation bundling to boost exercise: A field experiment, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

    Abstract: Temptation bundling—pairing a pleasurable indulgence with a behavior that provides delayed rewards—combats present bias by making behaviors with delayed benefits more instantly-gratifying. If people are sophisticated and capable of following self-set rules to overcome present bias, they could benefit from learning about temptation bundling. Participants in a four-week exercise-boosting program (N = 6792) received either an audiobook with encouragement to temptation bundle, only an audiobook, or neither an audiobook nor encouragement to temptation bundle. Giving participants audiobooks and encouraging temptation bundling boosted their likelihood of a weekly workout by 10–14% and average weekly workouts by 10–12% during and up to seventeen weeks post-intervention. Relative to giving audiobooks alone, encouraging temptation bundling had a modest positive effect on exercise on the extensive margin. The marginal benefit of encouraging temptation bundling may be small because free audiobooks leak information: Simply providing an audiobook to exercise program participants suggests they should temptation bundle.

  • Katie Mehr, Amanda E. Geiser, Katherine L. Milkman, Angela Duckworth (2020), Copy-Paste Prompts: A New Nudge to Promote Goal Achievement, Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 5 (3). https://doi.org/10.1086/708880

    Abstract: Consumers often struggle to achieve self-set, life-improvement goals. We introduce a novel, psychologically wise nudge—the copy-paste prompt—that encourages consumers to seek out and mimic a goal-achievement strategy used by an acquaintance. In a large (N = 1,028), preregistered, longitudinal study, participants randomly assigned to receive a copy-paste prompt spend more time exercising the following week than participants assigned to either a quasi-yoked or simple control condition. The benefits of copy-paste prompts are mediated by the usefulness of the adopted exercise strategy, commitment to using it, effort put into finding it, and the frequency of social interaction with people who exercise regularly. These findings suggest that further research on the potential of this virtually costless nudge is warranted.

  • Edward Chang, Katherine L. Milkman, Dena Gromet, Reb Rebele, Cade Massey, Angela Duckworth, Adam Grant (2019), The mixed effects of online diversity training, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Abstract: We present results from a large (n = 3,016) field experiment at a global organization testing whether a brief science-based online diversity training can change attitudes and behaviors toward women in the workplace. Our preregistered field experiment included an active placebo control and measured participants’ attitudes and real workplace decisions up to 20 weeks postintervention. Among groups whose average untreated attitudes—whereas still supportive of women—were relatively less supportive of women than other groups, our diversity training successfully produced attitude change but not behavior change. On the other hand, our diversity training successfully generated some behavior change among groups whose average untreated attitudes were already strongly supportive of women before training. This paper extends our knowledge about the pathways to attitude and behavior change in the context of bias reduction. However, the results suggest that the one-off diversity trainings that are commonplace in organizations are unlikely to be stand-alone solutions for promoting equality in the workplace, particularly given their limited efficacy among those groups whose behaviors policymakers are most eager to influence.

  • Angela Duckworth, David Laibson, Katherine L. Milkman, Beyond Willpower: Strategic Solutions for Reducing Self-Defeating Behavior.

  • Angela Duckworth and Katherine L. Milkman, Changing Behavior for Good.

Teaching

Past Courses

  • INSP398 - SENIOR THESIS

    The senior thesis course is a capstone for seniors in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. Students in the Huntsman Program should consult with the Huntsman Program advisors for more information.

  • MAPP601 - RESEARCH MTHDS & EVAL

    A methodology course exploring the valid and reliable assessment of positive states, such as positive emotions, and positive traits, such as character strengths. This course is only open to students in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology Program.

  • OIDD005 - GRIT LAB

    The aims of Grit Lab are two-fold: (1) equip you with generalizable knowledge about the science of passion and perseverance (2) to help you apply these insights to your own life. At the heart of this course are cutting-edge scientific discoveries about how to foster passion and perseverance for long-term goals. As in any undergraduate course, you will have an opportunity to learn from current research. But unlike most courses, Grit Lab encourages you to apply these ideas to your own life and reflect on your experience.

  • OIDD490 - SCI OF BEHAVIOR CHANGE

    The objective of this 14-week discussion-based seminar for advanced undergraduates is to expose students to cutting-edge research from psychology and economics on the most effective strategies for changing behavior sustainably and for the better (e.g., promoting healthier eating and exercise, encouraging better study habits, and increasing savings rates). The weekly readings cover classic and current research in this area. The target audience for this course is advanced undergraduate students interested in behavioral science research and particularly those hoping to learn about using social science to change behavior for good. Although there are no pre-requisites for this class, it is well-suited to students who have taken (and enjoyed) courses like OIDD 290: Decision Processes, PPE 203/PSYC 265: Behavioral Economics and Psychology, and MKTG 266: Marketing for Social Impact and are interested in taking a deeper dive into the academic research related to promoting behavior change for good. Instructor permission is required to enroll in this course. Please complete the application if interested in registering for this seminar: http://bit.ly/bcfg-class-2020. The application deadline is July 31, 2020. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor required.

  • PPE 498 - DIRECTED HONORS RESEARCH

    Student arranges with a faculty member to do research and write a thesis on a suitable topic. For more information on honors visit: https://ppe.sas.upenn.edu/study/curriculum/honors-theses

  • PSYC005 - GRIT LAB

    The aims of Grit Lab are two-fold: (1) equip you with generalizable knowledge about the science of passion and perseverance (2) to help you apply these insights to your own life. At the heart of this course are cutting-edge scientific discoveries about how to foster passion and perseverance for long-term goals. As in any undergraduate course, you will have an opportunity to learn from current research. But unlike most courses, Grit Lab encourages you to apply these ideas to your own life and reflect on your experience.

  • PSYC170 - SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY

    An overview of theories and research across the range of social behavior from intra-individual to the group level including the effects of culture, social environment, and groups on social interaction.

  • PSYC266 - INTRO POSITIVE PSYCH

    An introduction to the study of positive emotions, positive character traits, and positive institutions. The positive emotions consist of emotions about the past (e.g., serenity, satisfaction, pride), about the future (e.g., hope, optimism, faith), and emotions about the present (pleasure and gratification). The distinction among the pleasant life, the good life, and the meaningful life is drawn. The positive traits include wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and spirituality, and the classification of these virtues is explored. The positive institutions are exemplified by extended families, free press, humane leadership, and representative government.

  • PSYC399 - MENTORED RESEARCH

    Individual research involving data collection. Students do independent empirical work under the supervision of a faculty member, leading to a written paper. Normally taken in the junior or senior year.

  • PSYC490 - SCI OF BEHAVIOR CHANGE

    The objective of this 14-week discussion-based seminar for advanced undergraduates is to expose students to cutting-edge research from psychology and economics on the most effective strategies for changing behavior sustainably and for the better (e.g., promoting healthier eating and exercise, encouraging better study habits, and increasing savings rates). The weekly readings cover classic and current research in this area. The target audience for this course is advanced undergraduate students interested in behavioral science research and particularly those hoping to learn about using social science to change behavior for good. Although there are no pre-requisites for this class, it is well-suited to students who have taken (and enjoyed) courses like OIDD 290: Decision Processes, PPE 203/PSYC 265: Behavioral Economics and Psychology, and MKTG 266: Marketing for Social Impact and are interested in taking a deeper dive into the academic research related to promoting behavior change for good. Instructor permission is required to enroll in this course. Please complete the application if interested in registering for this seminar: http://bit.ly/bcfg-class-2020. The application deadline is July 31, 2020. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor required.

  • PSYC699 - INDIV RES FOR 1ST YR GRD

  • PSYC999 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

Activity

Latest Research

Katherine L. Milkman... et al. Christophe Van den Bulte, Kevin Volpp, Angela Duckworth (2021), A megastudy of text-based nudges encouraging patients to get vaccinated at an upcoming doctor’s appointment, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118 (20). 10.1073/pnas.2101165118
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Wharton Stories

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Wharton Stories - 04/29/2021
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