Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

The Bias Within: False Beliefs about Bodies and Minds

Friday, October 19, 2018

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum


Benjamin Converse, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Psychology, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, University of Virgina.

Sophie Trawalter, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Psychology, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, University of Virgina.

Joachim Krueger, Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences, Brown University.

Moderator: Eric Patashnik, Julis-Rabinowitz Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Political Science, and Director of Brown's Master of Public Affairs program.

Benjamin Converse is an assistant professor of public policy and psychology, with appointments in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and the Department of Psychology. He studies social psychology and the psychology of judgment and decision making. He investigates basic psychological processes – such as motivation, social judgment, and inferences about others’ mental states – that have critical implications for management, leadership, and policy.

Much of his work focuses on the question of how people achieve personal and group goals in a social world. With his lab group, the Social Behavior and Decisions Lab, and other collaborators, he is investigating questions such as: How do social judgments and evaluations change when people view collaborative efforts as a means to achievement versus as goals in themselves? How do the achievements of individuals’ groups affect their personal goal pursuit? How do people get beyond their own psychological perspectives to infer others’ thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the world? When and how can social exchange occur effectively and efficiently?

They are particularly concerned with how individual thought processes lead to decisions and behaviors that promote or undermine stable social systems. Research areas: social judgment, motivation and self-regulation, social exchange, perspective taking, and decision making.

Sophie Trawalter is an associate professor of public policy and psychology. She studies phenomena related to social diversity. Specifically, she examines how people navigate intergroup contact and intergroup contexts. She is especially interested in how people develop competencies and learn to thrive in diverse spaces.

In one line of research, she investigates stress and coping responses to interracial contact. Within this line of research, she examines people’s short-term behavioral and physiological responses to interracial contact as well as longer-term, health-relevant physiological changes in response to diversity experiences. Other lines of research explore people’s ability to detect discrimination accurately and the social ecology of privilege. Ultimately, the aim of this work is to develop constructive strategies to cope with the challenges of diversity in organizations, public arenas, and private spaces. In time, such strategies may reduce intergroup tensions and improve outcomes for both traditionally stigmatized and non-stigmatized group members.

Joachim Krueger is a Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences. He came to Brown in 1991 after attending graduate school at the University of Oregon (a glorious experience; PhD, 1988) and postdoctoral years at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin. His research covers a variety of topics in social judgment and decision-making, such as self-perception, strategic interpersonal behavior, and intergroup relations. He is intrigued by the intersections of cognitive-social psychology with behavioral economics and organizational behavior. Trust, power, and leadership are recurring themes in his research and teaching. When in a post-humanistic frame of mind, he extends his explorations to questions of creativity and happiness.

Eric M. Patashnik is Julis-Rabinowitz Professor of Public Policy, professor of political science, and director of Brown's Master of Public Affairs program.

Patashnik is the editor of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. He is also Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. Before coming to Brown, Patashnik held faculty positions at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA, and the department of political science at Yale University. During his time at UVA, he served as associate dean and acting dean at the Batten School. Patashnik is the author and editor of several books including Unhealthy Politics: The Battle over Evidence-Based Medicine (with Alan Gerber and Conor Dowling, Princeton University Press, 2017), which received the Don K. Price Book Award and Reforms at Risk: What Happens After Major Policy Changes Are Enacted (Princeton University Press, 2008), which received the Louis Brownlow Book Award.

Patashnik received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.