Ashley Whillans

Ashley Whillans
Harvard University | Harvard · Harvard Business School

About

73
Publications
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Introduction

Publications

Publications (73)
Article
Attributions, or lay explanations for inequality, have been linked to inequality-relevant behavior. In adults and children, attributing inequality to an individual rather than contextual or structural causes is linked to greater support for economic inequality and less equitable giving. However, few studies have directly examined the relationship b...
Article
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Background To date, public health policies implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic have been evaluated on the basis of their ability to reduce transmission and minimise economic harm. We aimed to assess the association between COVID-19 policy restrictions and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods In this longitudinal analysis, we co...
Article
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COVID-19 has infected millions of people and upended the lives of most humans on the planet. Researchers from across the psychological sciences have sought to document and investigate the impact of COVID-19 in myriad ways, causing an explosion of research that is broad in scope, varied in methods, and challenging to consolidate. Because policy and...
Article
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Across five studies (N = 4151), we investigate a novel barrier that prevents people from making personally beneficial requests: the overestimation of self-presentation costs. Even when deadlines are easily adjustable, people are less likely to request an extension and submit lower quality work when perceived self-presentation costs are higher—such...
Article
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Significance Time stress—the feeling of having too many things to do and not enough time to do them—is a societal epidemic that compromises productivity, physical health, and emotional well-being. Past research shows that women experience disproportionately greater time stress than men and has illuminated a variety of contributing factors. Across n...
Article
The questions of whether high-income individuals are more prosocial than low-income individuals and whether income inequality moderates this effect have received extensive attention. We shed new light on this topic by analyzing a large-scale dataset with a representative sample of respondents from 133 countries ( N = 948,837). We conduct a multiver...
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Does retirement lead to an existential crisis or present an opportunity to experience a renewed sense of purpose in life? Prior research has documented a negative association between retirement and sense of purpose in life, suggesting that retirement could lead people to feel aimless and lost. We revisited these findings using a quasiexperimental a...
Article
Most working adults report spending very little time with friends and family. The current research explores the aspects of work that encourage employees to spend less time with personal ties. We show that incentive systems play a critical role in shaping how people allocate their time to different relationship partners. Across three experiments, on...
Article
Since the first confirmed case in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019, the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has spread quickly, infecting 165 million people as of May 2021. Since this first detection, research has indicated that people contracting the virus may suffer neurological and mental disorders and deficits, in addition to the respiratory and ot...
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Significance We find pervasive gender differences in time use during COVID-19. Surveys of diverse samples with over 30,000 respondents reveal that women—especially mothers—spent more time on necessities such as childcare and chores. In turn, time spent completing household chores was linked to lower well-being. This research reveals persistent time...
Article
Consumers often cite insufficient time or money as an excuse for rejecting social invitations. We explore the effectiveness of these excuses in preserving interpersonal relationships. Six studies – including perceptions of couples planning their wedding – demonstrate that using time scarcity as an excuse (e.g., “I don’t have time”) is less effectiv...
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Financial conflicts are among the top reasons for dissatisfaction and dissolution in romantic relationships. Beyond economic strain, however, few studies have examined the psychological antecedents of financial conflicts that contribute to relationship satisfaction. The present research examined whether basing one's self-esteem on financial success...
Article
Past research has focused on understanding the characteristics of work that are fully virtual or fully collocated. The present study seeks to expand our understanding of team work by studying knowledge workers' experiences as they were suddenly forced to transition to a fully virtual environment. During the height of the US lockdown from April to J...
Article
There is widespread consensus that income and subjective well-being are linked, but when and why they are connected is subject to ongoing debate. We draw on prior research that distinguishes between the frequency and intensity of happiness to suggest that higher income is more consistently linked to how frequently individuals experience happiness t...
Article
The pandemic has given many of us the opportunity to ditch the commute and work from home long-term, offering huge potential time savings. But to truly reap the benefits of remote work during the current crisis and beyond, we need to think proactively about how we restructure our workday in this new normal. The authors suggest six concrete, researc...
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Does exposure to income inequality in adolescence relate to well-being in adulthood? In Studies 1 and 2 ( N = 888), individuals who grew up in U.S. counties with higher income inequality expected greater benefits of financial success as adults, were more likely to base their self-worth on money, and felt less happy and satisfied with their lives. U...
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The impacts of COVID-19 on workers and workplaces across the globe have been dramatic. This broad review of prior research rooted in work and organizational psychology, and related fields, is intended to make sense of the implications for employees, teams, and work organizations. This review and preview of relevant literatures focuses on (a) emerge...
Article
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Over the last two decades, global wealth has risen. Yet material affluence has not translated into time affluence. Most people report feeling persistently ‘time poor’—like they have too many things to do and not enough time to do them. Time poverty is linked to lower well-being, physical health and productivity. Individuals, organisations and polic...
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Perhaps one of the most reaffirming findings to emerge over the past several decades is that humans not only engage in generous behavior, they also appear to experience pleasure from doing so. Yet not all acts of helping lead to greater happiness. Here, we review the growing body of evidence showing that people engage in a wide array of prosocial b...
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Consumers feel increasingly pressed for time and money. Gifts have the potential to reduce scarcity in recipients’ lives, yet little is known about how recipients perceive gifts given with the intention of saving them time or money. Across five studies (N = 1, 816), we demonstrate that the recipients of gifts intending to save money experience more...
Article
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Spending money on time-saving services can improve happiness and reduce stress. Yet many people do not spend money to save time even when they can afford to do so, potentially because they feel guilty about paying other people to complete disliked tasks on their behalf. Consistent with this proposition, we find evidence that individuals are most li...
Preprint
Full-text available
COVID-19’s impacts on workers and workplaces across the globe have been dramatic. We present a broad review of prior research rooted in work and organizational psychology, and related fields, for making sense of the implications for employees, teams, and work organizations. Our review and preview of relevant literatures focuses on: (i) emerging cha...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Growing evidence documents strong associations between volunteering and favorable health and well-being outcomes. However, epidemiological studies have not evaluated whether changes in volunteering are associated with subsequent health and well-being outcomes. Methods Data were from 12,998 participants in the Health and Retirement Stu...
Article
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Our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are shaped in critical ways by our beliefs about how we compare to other people. Prior research has predominately focused on the consequences of believing oneself to be better than average (BTA). Research on the consequences of worse-than-average (WTA) beliefs has been far more limited, focusing mostly on the d...
Article
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Although people may think that money improves one’s relationships, research suggests otherwise. Focusing on money is associated with spending less time maintaining relationships and less desire to rely on others for help. But why does focusing on money relate to worse social outcomes? We propose that when people base their self-esteem on financial...
Article
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Honest reporting is essential for society to function well. However, people frequently lie when asked to provide information, such as misrepresenting their income to save money on taxes. A landmark finding published in PNAS [L. L. Shu, N. Mazar, F. Gino, D. Ariely, M. H. Bazerman, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109, 15197–15200 (2012)] provided evid...
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Across five field experiments with employees of a large organization (n = 68,915), we examined whether standard behavioural interventions (‘nudges’) successfully reduced single-occupancy vehicle commutes. In Studies 1 and 2, we sent letters and emails with nudges designed to increase carpooling. These interventions failed to increase carpool sign-u...
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The policies of most governments focus on improving material prosperity. Yet, wealth only weakly predicts well-being. It is therefore important to understand whether factors other than money shape the happiness of nations. Here, we construct a data set of 79 countries (N = 220,000) and explore whether differences in the prioritization of time (leis...
Article
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How does prioritizing time or money shape major life decisions and subsequent well-being? In a preregistered longitudinal study of approximately 1000 graduating university students, respondents who valued time over money chose more intrinsically rewarding activities and were happier 1 year after graduation. These results remained significant contro...
Article
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How do the very wealthy spend their time, and how does time use relate to well-being? In two studies in the Netherlands, the affluent ( N = 863; N = 690) and the general population ( N = 1,232; N = 306) spent time in surprisingly similar ways such as by spending the same amount of time working. Yet the nature of their time use differed in critical...
Article
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Who benefits most from helping others? Previous research suggests that common polymorphisms of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) predict whether people behave generously and experience increases in positive mood in response to socially focused experiences in daily life. Building on these findings, we conducted an experiment with a large, ethnically...
Article
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How can workplace rewards promote employee well-being and engagement? To answer these questions, we utilized self-determination theory to examine whether reward satisfaction predicted employee well-being, job satisfaction, intrinsic motivation and affective commitment, as well as valuable organizational outcomes, such as workplace contribution and...
Book
https://www.routledge.com/Behavioral-Insights-for-Public-Policy-Concepts-and-Cases/Ruggeri/p/book/9781138484238 The first decades of the 21st century have offered a remarkable shift in how policies are made as well as who designs them. Until this period, advisory boards for local, regional, and national policy strategies largely comprised economis...
Article
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Recent research suggests that affluent individuals adopt agentic self-concepts, striving to stand out from others and to master the environment on their own. The present study provides a road test of this idea, showing that this theorizing can be utilized to increase charitable giving among the affluent, when individuals do not realize that their b...
Data
This contains all supporting information, including Table A, Table B, Table C, and Campaign materials. (DOCX)
Article
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Depression and anxiety are costly for both employees and employers, in terms of direct medical costs as well as costs stemming from lost productive time and missed days at work. Resilience training has been shown to improve workplace functioning for employees, which suggests that it is a promising avenue for reducing some of these costs. However, e...
Article
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Given the struggle that many organizations face hiring and retaining talent in today’s tight labor market, it is critical to understand how to effectively reward employees. To address this question, we review relevant evidence that explains the importance of workplace rewards and recognition. Based on a review and synthesis of the current literatur...
Article
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Can the trade-offs that people make between time and money shape our social relationships? Across three studies, utilizing self-report (N = 127; N = 249) and behavioral outcomes (N = 358), we provide the first evidence that the chronic orientation to prioritize time over money encourages greater investment in daily social interactions. For example,...
Article
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Background The transition to university is a major life change wherein young adults’ primary support system shifts from the family to peers. Can change in social integration (operationalised as number of friends) during the first term at university contribute to students’ health years later, and if so, how? Methods The friendship formation of 67 s...
Article
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Time is a finite and precious resource, and the way that we value our time can critically shape happiness. In this article, we present a conceptual framework to explain when valuing time can enhance versus undermine wellbeing. Specifically, we review the emotional benefits of valuing time more than money, and discuss the emotional costs of valuing...
Article
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Spending money on time saving purchases improves happiness. Yet, people often fail to spend their money in this way. Because most people believe that the future will be less busy than the present, they may underweight the value of these purchases. We examine the impact of debiasing this previously unexplored barrier of consumer decisions to ‘buy ti...
Article
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Promoting undergraduate engagement is an important and challenging obstacle at large research-focused universities. Thus, the current study evaluated whether a peer-led program of student-geared events could improve engagement among a diverse group of psychology students early on in their degrees. We randomly assigned interested second-year psychol...
Chapter
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The Global Happiness Policy Report is produced by the Global Happiness Council and contains papers by expert working groups on happiness for good governance. Our chapter on work and well-being provides evidence and policy recommendations on best practices to promote happiness and well-being in the workplace. The first Global Happiness Policy Report...
Article
The scent of another person can activate memories, trigger emotions, and spark romantic attraction; however, almost nothing is known about whether and how human scents influence responses to stress. In the current study, 96 women were randomly assigned to smell one of three scents (their romantic partner’s, a stranger’s, or a neutral scent) and exp...
Article
The scent of another person can activate memories, trigger emotions, and spark romantic attraction;however, almost nothing is known about whether and how human scents influence responses to stress.In the current study, 96 women were randomly assigned to smell one of three scents (their romantic partner's, a stranger's, or a neutral scent) and expos...
Article
Full-text available
Two studies document the existence and correlates of a widespread social belief, wherein individuals who have recently moved to a new social environment see their peers as more socially connected than they themselves are. In Study 1, the prevalence of this belief was documented in a large sample of first-year students (N = 1,099). In Study 2, the p...
Preprint
The scent of another person can activate memories, trigger emotions, and spark romantic attraction; however, almost nothing is known about whether and how human scents influence responses to stress. In the current study, ninety-six participants were randomly assigned to smell one of three scents (their romantic partner’s, a stranger’s, or a clean s...
Article
Full-text available
Around the world, increases in wealth have produced an unintended consequence: a rising sense of time scarcity. We provide evidence that using money to buy time can provide a buffer against this time famine, thereby promoting happiness. Using large, diverse samples from the United States, Canada, Denmark, and The Netherlands (n = 6,271), we show th...
Article
We examined whether an online social networking technology (Facebook) influenced students' perceptions of their peers' social connections as well as their own feelings of belonging. In this experiment (N = 601), students were assigned to view Facebook profiles with high or low social content. Students then estimated the number of friends their peer...
Article
Full-text available
Does volunteering causally improve well-being? To empirically test this question, we examined one instantiation of volunteering that is common at post-secondary institutions across North America: Community Service Learning (CSL). CSL is a form of experiential learning that combines volunteer work with intentional learning goals and active reflectio...
Article
Wealth is associated with differences in people’s self-concepts. We propose that these self-concepts should define the types of appeals that are most effective at motivating generosity. Across three field studies, we randomly assigned participants to view an appeal for a charitable organization that emphasized agency (the pursuit of personal goals)...
Technical Report
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How can the science of philanthropy inform day-to-day fundraising? This brief report explores the usefulness of looking to social science research to enhance fundraising strategies. Drawing on empirical studies from the disciplines of psychology, sociology and economics, it discusses several potential points of intersection between fundraising and...
Article
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Objective: Does spending money on others (prosocial spending) improve the cardiovascular health of community-dwelling older adults diagnosed with high blood pressure? Methods: In Study 1, 186 older adults diagnosed with high blood pressure participating in the Midlife in the US Study (MIDUS) were examined. In Study 2, 73 older adults diagnosed with...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Does spending money on others (prosocial spending) improve the cardiovascular health of community-dwelling older adults diagnosed with high blood pressure? Method: In Study 1, 186 older adults diagnosed with high blood pressure participating in the Midlife in the U.S. Study (MIDUS) were examined. In Study 2, 73 older adults diagnosed...
Article
Full-text available
How do the trade-offs that we make about two of our most valuable resources—time and money—shape happiness? While past research has documented the immediate consequences of thinking about time and money, research has not yet examined whether people’s general orientations to prioritize time over money are associated with greater happiness. In the cu...
Article
There is growing evidence that there are stable and meaningful individual differences in how much people vary in their experience of positive affect (PA), which in turn may have implications for health and well-being. Does such PA variability play a role in physiological processes potentially related to stress and health, such as daily cortisol pro...
Article
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When does giving lead to happiness? Here, we present two studies demonstrating that the emotional benefits of spending money on others (prosocial spending) are unleashed when givers are aware of their positive impact. In Study 1, an experiment using real charitable appeals, giving more money to charity led to higher levels of happiness only when pa...

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