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Three invited sessions are scheduled for the 2016 Annual Convention. The sessions will cover timely issues important to the psychological sciences, ranging from national policy discussions to big data and evolutionary processes conversations. Find out more below about what the invited sessions will cover:


Policy, Social Psychology, and You

Thursday, January 28, 5:00 PM, Room 6

Wendy Wood

SPSP's 2016 President Wendy Wood will be hosting a discussion that will answer questions ranging from, "are policy jobs out there for me?" to, "how can we improve the world by developing science-based policy?" We will all be asking such questions, given President Obama's 2015 Executive Order to use behavioral science insights to better serve the American people. 



Collaborating with Government: A Case Study on Transparency
Michael I. Norton, Professor, Harvard Business School
I will discuss the results of a collaborative research project with the city of Boston, Massachusetts where increasing operational transparency — showing the work being done for citizens – improved perceptions of government. I'll then offer thoughts on how to initiate such collaborations, and how to increase the likelihood of follow through.


Craig FoxBridging the Divide Between Social Science and Policy
Craig Fox, Professor, University of California Los Angeles
Policymakers are increasingly receptive to insights from social science, yet these scientists rarely have direct impact on policy with their research.  In my talk I’ll derive lessons from the success of neoclassical economists and enterprising behavioral scientists in influencing policy, and motivate a more effective approach to behavioral policy research.


Richard ThalerImproving Public Policy: How Psychologists Can Help
Richard Thaler, Professor, University of Chicago
Giving advice to policy makers is a job for which economists have held a monopoly.  This needs to change, and thanks to the rapid spreading of behavioral insight teams in the UK, US and around the world, there is growing demand for input from behavioral scientists.  No group is better prepared to offer helpful advice than social psychologists.  Stop complaining about government: do something about it!


Memos to the President From a “Council of Psychological Science Advisers”
Bethany Teachman, Professor, University of Virginia
What do psychological scientists want to tell President Obama, and what might make him listen? This talk will highlight insights drawn from Perspectives on Psychological Science’s recent special series that received proposals from more than 400 psychologists about how they would use the most robust psychological research findings to inform public policy.



SPSP's 2015 Program Chairs, Michael Inzlicht and Jessica Tracy, are excited to announce the invited sessions for the 2016 Annual Convention in San Diego, California. Hear about cutting-edge research from some of the leading researchers in the field.

Big Data: Vast Opportunities for Psychological Insight from Mining Enormous Datasets

Friday, January 29, 2:00 PM, Room 6B

Chairs: Michael Inzlicht, University of Toronto & Jessica Tracy, University of British Columbia   

The big data revolution is upon us. Enormous samples, even entire populations, are being studied through cheap and varied means, presenting a powerful new lens to understand human behavior. In this invited session, leading scholars in economics, computer science, and psychology provide a glimpse into what big data can reveal.

Information Aversion and Value of Life: Big Data Contributions
Emily Oster, Brown University

Rarely do we have "big data" (big samples, long time periods) on the psychology of how people think about decisions; much more common is big data on decision outcomes. Can we use these data to learn more the psychology of choices? I will discuss this in the context of genetic testing for a fatal disease, and dietary choice among diabetics.


Mining Big Data to Understand the Link Between Facial Features and Personality
Michael Kosinski, Stanford University

People can (somewhat accurately) judge others’ personality based solely on pictures of their faces, suggesting the link between facial features and personality. In this talk, we show how to use Data Mining and Computer Vision methods to study the link between facial features, personality, and personality impressions.


Measuring the Health of Populations through Social Media
Johannes C. Eichstaedt, University of Pennsylvania

The expression of millions of users on social media is one of the largest longitudinal and cross-sectional data collection efforts in human history, with great potential for public health. By applying computational language analysis to Twitter, we predict geographical variation in heart disease, and identify its psychological correlates at the community level.


Human and Machine Intelligence
Sendhil Mullainathanan, Harvard University

Research on artificial and human intelligence were once intimately linked. I will argue that with the rise of big-data driven machine intelligence, we have come full circle: we ought to again study how machine and human intelligence relate to each other.


Big Questions in Evolutionary Science and what they mean for Social-Personality Psychology

Saturday, January 30, 2:00 PM, Room 6B

Chairs: Jessica Tracy, University of British Columbia & Michael Inzlicht, University of Toronto

In recent years, a number of evolutionary scientists have sought to incorporate cultural evolutionary processes into models of genetic evolution. Here, major proponents of genetic, cultural, and gene-culture co-evolutionary approaches will explain the central ideas behind these varied models, and will discuss implications of these contrasting views for social-personality psychology.

The Secret of Our Success: How culture is driving human evolution, domesticating our species, and making us smart
Joseph Henrich, Harvard University & University of British Columbia

New applications of evolutionary theory have changed our understanding of human physiology, anatomy and psychology. Our species' reliance on learning has created a second system of inheritance—culture—that shapes psychology and biology, and has driven genetic evolution. Cultural evolution and gene-culture coevolution are thus essential to understanding human psychology.

Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture
Leda Cosmides, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Group selection" is being used indiscriminately to explain cultural phenomena. It should be reversed for cases where a phenotypic feature decreases individual fitness, but spreads by causing the individual's group to outcompete others. Cooperation, for example, is caused by cognitive adaptations that arose by processes other than group selection.


Two powerful ways to think about culture and evolution
Jonathan Haidt, New York University Stern School of Business

Leda Cosmides and Joe Henrich have taken different approaches to understanding culture and the interplay of genetic evolution with cultural and environmental factors. In my commentary I’ll try to draw connections and highlight tensions between their two presentations, and show how both approaches have illuminated important aspects of moral psychology.



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