Katherine Milkman is a Professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and holds the Evan C Thompson Endowed Term Chair for Excellence in Teaching. She has a secondary appointment at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. Her research uses insights from economics and psychology to study how consequential behaviors (e.g., saving, exercising, medication adherence, discrimination) can be changed for good. In her TEDx talk, she describes some of her key findings on this topic.
Katherine has received numerous awards for her research including an early career award from the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences. When under 30, Milkman was named one of the world’s top 40 business school professors under 40 by Poets and Quants and she was a finalist for the Thinkers 50 2017 Radar Thinker Award. Her dozens of published articles in leading social science journals such as Management Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and The Journal of Finance have reached a wide audience through frequent coverage in major media outlets such as NPR, The New York Times, The Economist, The Washington Post, and The Financial Times. She is a regular contributor to The Washington Post, where she writes about the behavioral economics of everyday life.
Katherine has been recognized with many accolades for her ability to communicate ideas to students. She has repeatedly received the excellence in teaching award from Wharton’s undergraduate division, been voted Wharton’s “Iron Prof” by the school’s MBA students for a PechaKucha-style presentation of her research, and has been a repeated finalist for the Anvil Award for Wharton’s most outstanding MBA teacher.
She is an elected member of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making’s Executive Board and has been an associate editor for Management Science since 2013. She has worked with numerous organizations on research and/or consulting, including Google, the U.S. Department of Defense, the American Red Cross, Humana, 24 Hour Fitness, the College Board, Wipro, and Cummins Engines.
She received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University (summa cum laude) in Operations Research and Financial Engineering and her Ph.D. from Harvard University’s joint program in Computer Science and Business.
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.
Edward Chang, Katherine L. Milkman, Dolly Chugh, Modupe Akinola (2019), Diversity Thresholds: How Social Norms, Visibility, and Scrutiny Relate to Group Composition, Academy of Management Journal, 62 (1), pp. 144-171.
Abstract: Across a field study and four experiments, we examine how social norms and scrutiny affect decisions about adding members of underrepresented populations (e.g., women, racial minorities) to groups. When groups are scrutinized, we theorize that decision makers strive to match the diversity observed in peer groups due to impression management concerns, thereby conforming to the descriptive social norm. We examine this first in the context of U.S. corporate boards, where firms face pressure to increase gender diversity. Analyses of S&P 1500 boards reveal that significantly more boards include exactly two women (the descriptive social norm) than would be expected by chance. This overrepresentation of two-women boards—a phenomenon we call “twokenism”—is more pronounced among more visible companies, consistent with our theorizing around impression management and scrutiny. Experimental data corroborate these findings and provide support for our theoretical mechanism: decision makers are discontinuously less likely to add a woman to a board once it includes two women (the social norm), and decision makers’ likelihood of adding a woman or minority to a group is influenced by the descriptive social norms and scrutiny faced. Together, these findings provide a new perspective on the persistent underrepresentation of women and minorities in organizations.
Leslie K. John, Katherine L. Milkman, F. Gino, Bradford Tuckfield, L Foschini, The Ineffectiveness of Inconspicuous Incentives: A Field Experiment on Inattention.
Angela Duckworth, David Laibson, Katherine L. Milkman, Beyond Willpower: Strategic Solutions for Reducing Self-Defeating Behavior.
Chethan Bachireddy, Andrew Joung, Leslie K. John, F. Gino, Bradford Tuckfield, L Foschini, Katherine L. Milkman (Under Review), Comparing Financial Incentive Structures for Promoting Physical Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
John Beshears, Shlomo Benartzi, Richard T. Mason, Katherine L. Milkman (Under Review), How Do Consumers Respond When Default Options Push the Envelope?.
Hengchen Dai, David Mao, Jason Riis, Kevin Volpp, Michael J. Relish, Victor F. Lawnicki, Katherine L. Milkman (2017), Effectiveness of Medication Adherence Reminders Tied to “Fresh Start” Dates: A Randomized Clinical Trial, Journal of the American Medical Association: Cardiology, 2 (4), pp. 453-455.
See OIDD 690. This is a cross-listed course with OIDD 690.
This course is an intensive introduction to various scientific perspectives on the processes through which people make decisions. Perspectives covered include cognitive psychology of human problem-solving, judgment and choice, theories of rational judgment and decision, and the mathematical theory of games. Much of the material is technically rigorous. Prior or current enrollment in STAT 101 or the equivalent, although not required, is strongly recommended.
This class provides a high-level introduction to the field of judgment and decision making (JDM) and in-depth exposure to the process of doing research in this area. Throughout the semester you will gain hands-on experience with several different JDM research projects. You will be paired with a PhD student or faculty mentor who is working on a variety of different research studies. Each week you will be given assignments that are central to one or more of these studies, and you will be given detailed descriptions of the research projects you are contributing to and how your assignments relate to the successful completion of these projects. To complement your hands-on research experience, throughout the semester you will be assigned readings from the book Nudge by Thaler and Sunstein, which summarizes key recent ideas in the JDM literature. You will also meet as a group for an hour once every three weeks with the class's faculty supervisor and all of his or her PhD students to discuss the projects you are working on, to discuss the class readings, and to discuss your own research ideas stimulated by getting involved in various projects. Date and time to be mutually agreed upon by supervising faculty and students. the 1CU version of this course will involve approx. 10 hours of research immersion per week and a 10-page paper. The 0.5 CU version of this course will involve approx 5 hours of research immersion per week and a 5-page final paper. Please contact Maurice Schweitzer if you are interested in enrolling in the course: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: https://tinyurl.com/bcfg-class-application. The application deadline is July 15, 2019.
The course is built around lectures reviewing multiple empirical studies, class discussion,and a few cases. Depending on the instructor, grading is determined by some combination of short written assignments, tests, class participation and a final project (see each instructor's syllabus for details).
New research from Wharton examines whether online diversity training really changes the behaviors and attitudes of employees.Knowledge @ Wharton - 2019/05/15