Why do people pray? In this paper, we suggest another important dimension of prayer, namely that prayer is a form of collaborative problem solving. In this paper we use both qualitative evidence drawn from interviews and quantitative evidence from a survey and an experiment to show that people use prayer to solve practical problems in their lives. We also argue that the informal and personal ways in which people address God in prayer put God into the role of collaborator in their problem solving. This paper argues that not only do people solve practical problems in prayer, but that part of the skill being developed in prayer is collaborative problem-solving. 

Check out a draft of the paper here

Collaborators: Tanya Luhmrann and David Landy

People in countries around the world dramatically mis-estimate the size of demographic groups. Researchers have chalked this up to bias alone. However, explanations of this misestimation have largely ignored theoretical models of perception. We present a model which combines an understanding of the nature of human estimations with a conceptualization of uncertainty as well as bias. Paper in revision! 

Check out the conference proceeding here!

Collaborator: David Landy

This work asks two questions: 1) How much do people value the privacy of their online personal data? and 2) If you show people what can be inferred from their personal data, do their privacy valuations change? 

tl;dr: 1) it depends on the kind of data and 2) yes, technically, but not much

I worked on this project as a Microsoft Research Intern in the summer of 2021. Check out the draft here.

Collaborators: Sid Suri and John Krumm

This work follows up on the Uncertainty & Bias in Demographic Perception work, by testing our assumptions that people hedge their estimates under uncertainty in the manner we propose. (*Spoiler alert*: It looks like they do!) 

Check out the preprint here and the javascript code for the neat online experiment on GitHub.

Collaborator: David Landy

When people retell stories, what guides their retelling? Most previous research on story retelling and story comprehension has focused on information accuracy as the key measure of stability in transmission. This paper suggests that there is a second, affective, dimension that provides stability for retellings, namely the audience affect of surprise. 

Check out the paper here!

Collaborators: Fritz Breithaupt (et al. with the Experimental Humanities Lab at IU)

How do people think about energy? Energy is an interesting subject of cognitive scientific study because it is so hard to think about! It's invisible and its units are difficult to understand (what is a kilowatt hour anyway?), but people use energy daily and often need to think about their usage. This project investigates which features of household appliances people use as proxies in their energy estimates. 

Check out the paper here!

Collaborators: David Landy, Tyler Marghetis, Shahzeen Attari, Deidra Miniard