George E Newman

George E Newman
Yale University | YU · School of Management

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83
Publications
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Publications

Publications (83)
Article
Despite the proliferation of multifunctional products, survey data suggests that instead of relying on one multifunctional product, consumers now rely on a community of multifunctional products, using them interchangeably to perform similar tasks. Such consumption patterns stand in stark contrast to consumers’ well-documented aversion towards waste...
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Psychological essentialism has played an important role in social psychology, informing influential theories of stereotyping and prejudice as well as questions about wrongdoers' accountability and their ability to change. In the existing literature, essentialism is often tied to beliefs in shared biology-that is, the extent to which members of a so...
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Women are underrepresented in fields where success is believed to require brilliance, but the reasons for this pattern are poorly understood. We investigate perceptions of a “masculinity contest culture,” an organizational environment of ruthless competition, as a key mechanism whereby a perceived emphasis on brilliance discourages female participa...
Article
Heritage branding is a common marketing strategy that has been shown to increase product appeal. Here, we find that certain forms of heritage branding can also have potentially negative consequences by leading consumers to react negatively to changes made to the brand's original, flagship product-even if those changes objectively improve it. We dem...
Article
Existing research has examined why consumers are drawn to things from their past (personal nostalgia). However, little empirical work has examined why consumers prefer products that were never a part of their personal history (communal nostalgia). For example, a consumer may purchase vinyl records even though she grew up listening to mp3 files. Her...
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Theories of authenticity usually try to explain what leads consumers to see something as authentic. Here, we address the inverse question instead: What makes a brand, individual, or product seem inauthentic? This shift in focus reveals a distinct psychology that is more than just the absence or inverse of responses to authenticity. Whereas authenti...
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Significance Local environmental conditions, such as air and water quality, are shaped, in part, by how societies allocate environmental harms and benefits. Since environmental conditions have long-lasting impacts on people’s lives, understanding the psychology behind such allocation decisions is critical. Across studies, we demonstrate that people...
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Psychological essentialism has played an important role in social psychology, informing influential theories of stereotyping and prejudice as well as questions about accountability for wrongdoing and the possibility for change. Existing research has shown that people often see a social group as having a deep, underlying essence when they understand...
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Full-text available
It is common for charities to bundle donation requests with some type of product, such as a tote bag, pen, or coffee mug. The current studies find that people are more likely to donate when those bundles are framed as “charitable purchases” versus “donations with a gift.” We show that this effect arises because consumers want to avoid the negative...
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The Twin Earth thought experiment invites us to consider a liquid that has all of the superficial properties associated with water (clear, potable, etc.) but has entirely different deeper causal properties (composed of “XYZ” rather than of H2O). Debates about natural kind concepts have sought to accommodate an apparent fact about ordinary people's...
Article
Authenticity is generally believed to play an important role in our daily lives. Empirical research thus far has made progress in understanding the nature of this important construct. We identify four broad conclusions about authenticity based on this research: (a) People value authenticity in their own behavior and other domains (e.g., life experi...
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Over the past several decades, psychological essentialism has been an important topic of study, incorporating research from multiple areas of psychology, philosophy and linguistics. At its most basic level, essentialism is the tendency to represent certain concepts in terms of a deeper, unobservable property that is responsible for category members...
Article
Perceptions of authenticity (or, inauthenticity) have been shown to affect people’s judgments and behavior across a wide variety of domains. However, there is still ambiguity about how the concept should be defined. This is attributable, at least in part, to a growing list of different “kinds of authenticity” with little discussion of the potential...
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The concept of authenticity informs a number of central topics in management studies. On the surface, it might seem that a consensus exists about its meaning; there is indeed widespread agreement that authenticity refers to that which is “real” or “genuine” or “true.” Below the surface, however, there is much less agreement; scholars use the same l...
Article
Prospective donors are often sensitive to the amount of overhead in charitable fundraising. The present studies examine how differences in one’s personal commitment to a cause moderate the relative focus on overhead versus outcomes in charitable fundraising. Three experiments find that donors who are more committed to the cause are, in fact, accept...
Article
Over 20 years have passed since magical contagion was first introduced to psychology; we discuss how psychological and consumer behavior findings since then have deepened our understanding of this phenomenon. Recent research has shed light on the psychological mechanisms that underlie consumers’ contamination concerns (e.g., the behavioral immune s...
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People sometimes explain behavior by appealing to an essentialist concept of the self, often referred to as the true self. Existing studies suggest that people tend to believe that the true self is morally virtuous; that is deep inside, every person is motivated to behave in morally good ways. Is this belief particular to individuals with optimisti...
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A long tradition of psychological research has explored the distinction between characteristics that are part of the self and those that lie outside of it. Recently, a surge of research has begun examining a further distinction. Even among characteristics that are internal to the self, people pick out a subset as belonging to the true self. These f...
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Contagion refers to the belief that individuals or objects can acquire the essence of a particular source, such as a disgusting product or an immoral person, through physical contact. This paper documents beliefs in a "contact-free" form of contagion whereby an object is thought to inherit the essence of a person when it was designed, but never act...
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We present the data from a crowdsourced project seeking to replicate findings in independent laboratories before (rather than after) they are published. In this Pre-Publication Independent Replication (PPIR) initiative, 25 research groups attempted to replicate 10 moral judgment effects from a single laboratory’s research pipeline of unpublished fi...
Article
The concept of authenticity plays an important role in how people reason about objects, other people, and themselves. However, despite a great deal of academic interest in this concept, to date, the precise meaning of the term, authenticity, has remained somewhat elusive. This paper reviews the various definitions of authenticity that have been pro...
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The concept of authenticity is central to how people value many different types of objects and yet there is considerable disagreement about how individuals evaluate authenticity or how the concept itself should be defined. This paper attempts to reconcile previous approaches by proposing a novel view of authenticity. Specifically, I draw upon past...
Article
One of the most prominent trends in recent visual cognition research has been the study of ensemble representations, as in the phenomenon of perceptual averaging: people are impressively accurate and efficient at extracting average properties of visual stimuli, such as the average size of an array of objects, or the average emotion of a collection...
Article
The present studies examine how demand for certain types of authentic objects is related to a more fundamental need to form social connections with others. Specifically, Experiment 1 demonstrates that manipulating the need to belong leads to greater valuation of celebrity memorabilia. Experiment 2 provides converging evidence by demonstrating that...
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In recent years, many organizations have sought to align their financial goals with environmental ones by identifying strategies that maximize profits while minimizing environmental impacts. Examples of this 'win-win' approach can be found across a wide range of industries, from encouraging the reuse of hotel towels, to the construction of energy e...
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Although campaigns designed to promote pro-environmental behaviours increasingly highlight self-interest, recent research suggests that such appeals may not always be effective. For example, individuals are more likely to check their tyre pressure when prompted with self-transcendent (that is, benefits to the environment) versus economic motives; a...
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Doing good does not necessarily imply doing well for a company. Ironically, in the case of green products it can even be quite the contrary. Deliberately enhancing a product with environmental benefits to make it more appealing may actually lead to a decrease in consumer interest because consumers suspect that quality was reduced on other dimension...
Article
A growing body of research has examined how people judge the persistence of identity over time-that is, how they decide that a particular individual is the same entity from one time to the next. While a great deal of progress has been made in understanding the types of features that people typically consider when making such judgments, to date, exi...
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This crowdsourced project introduces a collaborative approach to improving the reproducibility of scientific research, in which findings are replicated in qualified independent laboratories before (rather than after) they are published. Our goal is to establish a non-adversarial replication process with highly informative final results. To illustra...
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Consumers demonstrate a robust preference for items with earlier serial numbers (e.g., No. 3/100) over otherwise identical items with later serial numbers (e.g., No. 97/100) in a limited edition set. This preference arises from the perception that items with earlier serial numbers are temporally closer to the origin (e.g., the designer or artist wh...
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The present studies examine how culturally held stereotypes about gender (that women eat more healthfully than men) implicitly influence food preferences. In Study 1, priming masculinity led both male and female participants to prefer unhealthy foods, while priming femininity led both male and female participants to prefer healthy foods. Study 2 ex...
Article
Several studies demonstrate that an intuitive link between agents and order emerges within the first year of life. This appreciation seems importantly related to similar forms of inference, such as the Argument from Design. We suggest, however, that infants and young children may be more accurate in their tendencies to infer agents from order than...
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This paper examines people's reasoning about identity continuity (i.e., how people decide that a particular object is the same object over time) and its relation to previous research on how people value one-of-a-kind artifacts, such as artwork. We propose that judgments about the continuity of artworks are related to judgments about the continuity...
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Recent experimental evidence indicates that intuitions about inherence and system justification are distinct psychological processes, and that the inherence heuristic supplies important explanatory frameworks that are accepted or rejected based on their consistency with one's motivation to justify the system.
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Many companies offer products with social benefits that are orthogonal to performance (e. g., green products). The present studies demonstrate that information about a company's intentions in designing the product plays an import role in consumers' evaluations. In particular, consumers are less likely to purchase a green product when they perceive...
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Research on the role of identity in choice varies widely across fields like psychology, philosophy, consumer behavior, and economics, in both the key questions addressed and the methods of investigation. Although a large literature has established how salient aspects of identity affect attitudes and norms, less is known about how beliefs concerning...
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Recent work using decontextualized economic games suggests that cooperation is a dynamic decision-making process: Automatic responses typically support cooperation on average, while deliberation leads to increased selfishness. Here, we performed two studies examining how these temporal effects generalize to games with richer social context cues. St...
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The present studies investigate whether people perceive the same work of art to be of lower quality if they learn that it was a collaborative work (resulting from the efforts of multiple artists) versus the work of a single artist. Study 1 finds that indeed, as the number of authors increases, the perceived quality of an artwork decreases. Study 2...
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Past research has identified a number of asymmetries based on moral judgments. Beliefs about (a) what a person values, (b) whether a person is happy, (c) whether a person has shown weakness of will, and (d) whether a person deserves praise or blame seem to depend critically on whether participants themselves find the agent's behavior to be morally...
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Altruism is central to organizational and social life, but its motivations are not well understood. We propose a new theoretical distinction that sorts these motivations into two basic types: “giving” indicates prosocial behaviors in which one willingly engages, while “giving in” indicates prosocial behavior in which one reluctantly engages, often...
Article
It is well established that differences in manufacturing location can affect consumer preferences through lay inferences about production quality. In this article, the authors take a different approach to this topic by demonstrating how beliefs in contagion (the notion that objects may acquire a special aura or "essence" from their past) influence...
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Cooperation is central to human societies. Yet relatively little is known about the cognitive underpinnings of cooperative decision making. Does cooperation require deliberate self-restraint? Or is spontaneous prosociality reined in by calculating self-interest? Here we present a theory of why (and for whom) intuition favors cooperation: cooperatio...
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The current studies examine how valuation of authentic items varies as a function of culture. We find that U.S. respondents value authentic items associated with individual persons (a sweater or an artwork) more than Indian respondents, but that both cultures value authentic objects not associated with persons (a dinosaur bone or a moon rock) equal...
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Contagion is a form of magical thinking in which people believe that a person's immaterial qualities or essence can be transferred to an object through physical contact. Here we investigate how a belief in contagion influences the sale of celebrity memorabilia. Using data from three high-profile estate auctions, we find that people's expectations a...
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In four experiments, we found that the presence of self-interest in the charitable domain was seen as tainting: People evaluated efforts that realized both charitable and personal benefits as worse than analogous behaviors that produced no charitable benefit. This tainted-altruism effect was observed in a variety of contexts and extended to both mo...
Article
People have a fundamental motive to view their social system as just, fair, and good and will engage in a number of strategies to rationalize the status quo (Jost & Banaji, 1994). We propose that one way in which individuals may "justify the system" is through endorsement of essentialist explanations, which attribute group differences to deep, esse...
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The belief that individuals have a "true self" plays an important role in many areas of psychology as well as everyday life. The present studies demonstrate that people have a general tendency to conclude that the true self is fundamentally good-that is, that deep inside every individual, there is something motivating him or her to behave in ways t...
Article
Bullot & Reber (B&R) make a strong case for the role of causal reasoning in the appreciation of artwork. Although I agree that an artistic design stance is important for art appreciation, I suggest that it is a subset of a more general framework for evaluating artworks as the causal extensions of individuals, which includes inferences about the cre...
Article
Cooperation is central to human societies. Yet relatively little is known about the cognitive underpinnings of cooperative decision-making. Does cooperation require deliberate self-restraint? Or is spontaneous prosociality reined in by calculating self-interest? Here we present a theory of why (and for whom) intuition favors cooperation: cooperatio...
Article
Six experiments examined the effects of thank-you gifts on charitable giving. Results indicate that although people expect that the offer of thank-you gifts will increase donations, such offers actually reduce charitable donations. This effect was obtained across a wide variety of charities and gifts types, regardless of whether the donations were...
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Perhaps the most common method of depicting data, in both scientific communication and popular media, is the bar graph. Bar graphs often depict measures of central tendency, but they do so asymmetrically: A mean, for example, is depicted not by a point, but by the edge of a bar that originates from a single axis. Here we show that this graphical as...
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Recent studies have identified the uncertainty effect (UE), whereby risky prospects (e.g., a binary lottery that offers either a $50 or $100 gift certificate) are valued less than their worst possible outcome (a $50 certificate). This effect has been proposed to result from ``direct risk-aversion'' which posits that the mere uncertainty of a lotter...
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Why are original artworks valued more than identical duplicates? The present studies explore 2 mechanisms underlying the special value of original artwork: the assessment of the art object as a unique creative act (performance) and the degree of physical contact with the original artist (contagion). Across 5 experiments, participants were exposed t...
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Why do people purchase objects that were once owned by celebrities, such as film stars or politicians, and also by despised individuals, such as serial killers and notorious dictators? The present studies examine three potential explanations: mere associations, market demands, and contagion (the belief that these objects contain some remnants of th...
Article
While many individuals express support for pro-social causes, little is understood about the psychological drivers that affect when the desire for pro-social benefits will trump the desire for personal benefits. We address this question by testing how psychological distance affects interest in green products, and further if this effect is moderated...
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The world around us presents two fundamentally different forms of patterns: those that appear random and those that appear ordered. As adults we appreciate that these two types of patterns tend to arise from very different sorts of causal processes. Typically, we expect that, whereas agents can increase the orderliness of a system, inanimate object...
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When evaluating the moral character of others, people show a strong bias to more heavily weigh behaviors at the end of an individual's life, even if those behaviors arise in light of an overwhelmingly longer duration of contradictory behavior. Across four experiments, we find that this "end-of-life" bias uniquely applies to intentional changes in b...
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This chapter argues that human cognitive development tells us a great deal about what makes human thinking qualitatively unique, but it does so in the same way that current evolutionary biologists explain how organisms are particularly well adapted to niches; that is, the way in which human concepts are specialized, rather than the product of a lin...
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In this study, we tested whether 8-month-old infants could infer an actor's unfulfilled goal, despite some physical information present in the displays being inconsistent with the attempted goal. Infants saw a human hand holding a ring repeatedly approach the top of a plastic cone in an apparent failed attempt to place the ring on the cone. The han...
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Psychologists have long been captivated by the perception of animacy - the fact that even simple moving shapes may appear to engage in animate, intentional, and goal-directed movements. Here we report several new types of studies of a particularly salient form of perceived animacy: chasing, in which one shape (the 'wolf') pursues another shape ('th...
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The currency of our visual experience consists not only of visual features such as color and motion, but also seemingly higher-level features such as causality—as when we see two billiard balls collide, with one causing the other to move. One of the most important and controversial questions about causal perception involves its origin: do we learn...
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The present studies investigated children's and adults' intuitive beliefs about the physical nature of essences. Adults and children (ranging in age from 6 to 10 years old) were asked to reason about 2 different ways of determining an unknown object's category: taking a tiny internal sample from any part of the object (distributed view of essence)...
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This paper reports the results of two sets of studies demonstrating 14-month-olds' tendency to associate an object's behavior with internal, rather than external features. In Experiment 1 infants were familiarized to two animated cats that each exhibited a different style of self-generated motion. Infants then saw a novel individual that had an int...
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Responds to comments made by Rhemtulla and Xu on the current authors' original paper Concepts of individual objects (e.g., a favorite chair or pet) include knowledge that allows people to identify these objects, sometimes after long stretches of time. In an earlier article, the authors set out experimental findings and mathematical modeling to supp...
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Replies to a postscript by Rhemtulla and Xu and to the current author's response to Rhemtulla's and Xu's comment on the current authors' original record. People often judge an object they see at one time to be the very same object they saw at another. What makes these persistence judgments possible? In an earlier article (Rips, Blok & Newman, 2006)...
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We agree that supernatural beliefs are pervasive. However, we propose a more general account rooted in how people trace ordinary objects over time. Tracking identity involves attending to the causal history of an object, a process that may implicate hidden mechanisms. We discuss experiments in which participants exhibit the same “supernatural” beli...
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Vision begins with the processing of unbound visual features, which must eventually be bound together into object representations. Such feature binding is required for coherent visual perception, and accordingly has received a considerable amount of study in several domains. Neurophysiological work, often in monkeys, has revealed the details of how...
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This article considers how people judge the identity of objects (e.g., how people decide that a description of an object at one time, t(0), belongs to the same object as a description of it at another time, t(1)). The authors propose a causal continuer model for these judgments, based on an earlier theory by Nozick (1981). According to this model,...
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Information Theory defines statistical entropy in terms of the amount of information carried in a signal or event (Shannon, C.E., 1949). In general, more random strings take more information to represent, while less random strings take less information to represent. When describing arrays of visual objects, we may be tempted to refer to certain typ...
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