Shai Davidai is Assistant Professor in the Management Division of Columbia Business School. His research examines people’s everyday judgments of themselves, other people, and society as a whole. He studies the psychological forces that shape, distort, and bias people’s perceptions of the world and their influence on people’s judgments, preferences, and choices. His topics of expertise include the psychology of judgment and decision making, economic inequality and social mobility, social comparisons, and zero-sum thinking.
His work has been published in top-tier journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Science Advances, Scientific Reports, Nature Psychology Reviews, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Perspectives on Psychological Sciences, The Accounting Review, the Journal of Economic Surveys, and the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making.
Shai received his PhD from Cornell University in 2015. Prior to joining Columbia Business School, Shai spent a year as a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University and 3 years as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at The New School for Social Research
The tendency to see life as zero-sum exacerbates political conflicts. Six studies (N = 3223) examine the relationship between political ideology and zero-sum thinking: the belief that one party's gains can only be obtained at the expense of another party's losses. We find that both liberals and conservatives view life as zero-sum when it benefits them to do so. Whereas conservatives exhibit zero-sum thinking when the status quo is challenged, liberals do so when the status quo is being upheld.
Although the rates of economic inequality in the United States are at their highest since the onset of The Great Depression, many Americans do not seem as concerned as may be expected. This apparent lack of concern has been attributed to people's deeply-entrenched belief in economic mobility -- the belief that through hard work, determination, and skill people are able to rise up the economic ladder. Little is known, however, about why Americans so strongly believe in economic mobility.
People's tendency to rate themselves as above average is often taken as evidence of undue self-regard. Yet, everyday experience is occasioned with feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. How can these 2 experiences be reconciled? Across 12 studies (N = 2,474; including 4 preregistered studies) we argue that although people do indeed believe that they are above average they also hold themselves to standards of comparison that are well above average.
The most effective behavioral policies are often also the most contentious. Psychologically informed interventions that promote non-deliberative behaviors ("nudges") are often more effective than "traditional" policies (like informational and educational campaigns) that target more deliberative processes. Yet, precisely because of their deliberative nature, people are often said to prefer the latter over the former.