Maia Young

Profile photo of Maia Young
“One upside of anger is that it prompts us to take a contrarian point of view, which is needed to break free from pervasive decision making biases.”

Associate Professor of Management and Organizations

(310) 825-8358




Maia Young is an associate professor of management and organizations. She joined the faculty at the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 2004 after earning her Ph.D. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She studies the psychology of individual decision making in the workplace, particularly the way that decisions can be affected by emotions, culture and religion.

Young has led and co-authored noteworthy research showing that a leader’s reputation is a measure of his or her “managerial mystique.” She says, “If you ask people if they believe in magical powers, very few of them would say yes. But their decisions might reflect a different answer.” Her studies found that when people aren’t aware of the means by which a leader achieves success, they are likelier to view that person as charismatic or visionary. Meanwhile, she says, “Leaders have to be good at what they do as well as manage others’ interpretation of their leadership and who they are.”

Young’s research interests include theories of control (for example, whether luck and fate are thought to play a role in one’s successes), well-being, the effects of discrimination in the workplace, and cross-cultural perceptions of leaders. Her newest research concerns the effect of emotions — particularly anger — on decision-making.

“I’m finding that anger can actually help people on certain tasks,” she says. “Some mistakes in judgment can be avoided by taking on a contrarian attitude, and anger spurs us to do that. Feeling a bit antagonistic can motivate a person to push against an irrelevant anchor or foresee flaws in a strategic plan, for example.”

Young’s research is motivated by the observation that emotional events that might trigger anger are common at work — as when a colleague gets credit for your hard work or when you aren’t given the resources to succeed. “The fact is that people have emotions,” she says, “How can you possibly keep them out of the workplace?” Young says that in her elective course, The Emotionally Intelligent Leader, “I try to acknowledge that in hiring someone, you are hiring their whole self. If you want people to perform at work, the organization needs to provide them a space where they can grow, be their best, and contribute to something bigger than they could individually do.” She has witnessed leaders changing their tack after taking her class, through a shift in their approach to communication, conflict and persuasion.

But can mystique be taught? “I teach students that persona can be cultivated,” says Young. “We have some say over the narratives of our lives.”

Young was awarded the 2008 Eric and “E” Juline Faculty Excellence in Research Award. Her research has been published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Journal of Management, American Psychologist, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Behavioral Decision Making and Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. It has been covered by various media outlets, including The Economist, NPR’s Marketplace, strategy + business,, Science Magazine and Psychology Today.



Ph.D. Organizational Behavior, Stanford University
B.A.S. Psychology, with honors, Stanford University


Published Papers

Shih, M., & Young, M.J (2016). Identity management strategies in colorblind workplaces. In Neville, H.A., Gallardo, M.E., and Sue, D.W. (Eds). What Does it Mean to be Color-Blind? Manifestation, Dynamics, and Impact. Washington, D.C: American Psychological Association.

Young, M. J. & Sarin, R. (2014). Fostering meaning, social connection, and well-being through Hindu beliefs and practices. In Prieto, C.-P. (ed.), Religion and Spirituality Across Culture, Cross-Cultural Advances in Positive Psychology 9 (pp. 87-100). Springer Science + Business Media.

Shih, M., Young, M. J., & Bucher, A. (2013). Working to reduce the effects of discrimination: Identity management strategies in organizations. American Psychologist, 68, 145-157.

Chen, N., & Young, M. J. (2013). The effect of personal injustice on attributions for the success of others. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 35, 200-211.

Young, M. J., Morris, M. W., & Scherwin, V. (2013). Managerial mystique: Magical thinking in judgments of managers’ vision, charisma, and magnetism, Journal of Management, 39, 1044-1061. *Featured article in the journal’s Twitter feed (@Journal_of_Mgmt)

Young, M. J., Bauman, C. W., Chen, N., & Bastardi, A. (2012). The pursuit of missing information in negotiation. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 117, 88-95.

Jung, H. & Young, M. J. (2012). The de-biasing effect of incidental anger on externally-provided anchors. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 25, 435-442.

Young, M. J., Morris, M. W., Burrus, J., Krishnan, L., & Regmi, M. P. (2011). Deity and destiny: Patterns of fatalistic thinking in Christian and Hindu cultures. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42, 1030-1053.

Young, M. J., Tiedens, L. Z., Jung, H., & Tsai-M.-H. (2011). Mad enough to see the other side: Anger and the search for disconfirming information. Cognition and Emotion. 25, 10-21.

Tsai, M.-H. & Young, M. J. (2010, shared first authorship). Anger, fear, and escalation of commitment. Cognition and Emotion, 24, 962-973.

Young, M. J., Chen, N., & Morris, M. W. (2009). Belief in stable and fleeting luck and achievement motivation. Personality and Individual Differences, 47, 150-154.

Tiedens, L. Z., Unzueta, M. M., & Young, M. J. (2007). An unconscious desire for hierarchy?: The motivated perception of dominance complementarity in task partners. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 402-414.

Morris, M. W., Sheldon, O., Ames, D. R., & Young, M. J. (2007). Metaphors and the market: Consequences and preconditions of agent and object metaphors in stock market commentary. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 102, 174-192.

Fu, H., Chiu, C., Morris, M. W., & Young, M. J. (2006). Spontaneous inferences from cultural cues: Varying responses of cultural insiders and outsiders. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 38, 1-18.

Zemba, Y., Young, M. J., Morris, M. W. (2006). Blaming leaders for organizational accidents: Proxy logic in collective-versus individual-agency cultures. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 101, 36-51.

Simonson, I., Kramer, T., Young, M. J. (2004). Effect propensity: The distribution of switchers’ choices in the reference state as a determinant of the direction of effects on choice. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 95, 156-174.

Young, M. J. & Morris, M. W. (2004). Existential meanings and cultural models: The interplay of personal and supernatural agency in American and Hindu ways of responding to uncertainty. In J. Greenberg, S. L. Koole, & T. Pyszczynski (Eds.), Handbook of Experimental Existential Psychology (pp. 215-230). New York: Guilford Press.

Morris, M. W. & Young, M. J. (2002). Linking culture to behavior: Focusing on more proximate cognitive mechanisms. In F. Dansereau & F. Yammarino (Eds.), Advances in Cross-Level Organizational Research. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.


Media Mentions

Hutson, M. (2016, September). The Charisma Effect: How to bend people to your will. The Atlantic.

Oksman, O. (2016, July). The psychology of luck: how superstition can help you win. The Guardian.

Flora, C. (2015, March). How luck works. Aeon Magazine.

Feinberg, P. (2015, January). Anderson professor shows reputation is a measure of your mystique. UCLA Newsroom.

Kravitz, L. D. (2014, September). 4 Ways Businesses, Like People, Can Be More Resilient. Huffington Post.

Dowden, C. (2014, June). Why You Should Believe in Luck. Psychology Today.

Price, M. (2012, December). Getting Back Your Mojo. Science Magazine

Evje, B. (2012, January). The Magic of Leadership.

McCorvey, J. J. (2011, October). The Characteristics of a Great Leader. Inc. Magazine.

Progressive Radio Network (2011, March). How Anger Can Make Us More Rational.

Gardella, A. (2010, May). Women: Want a raise? Think scary thoughts.

Western, K. (2010, March). Your lucky numbers. Men’s Health, p. 136.
Palmquist, M. (2009, Winter). How emotions affect decision making. Strategy + Business, p. 134-135.

Hutson, M. (2009, September-October). Magic touchpad.” Psychology Today, p. 11.

Hutson, M. (2009, July-August). Get lucky. Psychology Today, p. 18.
The Economist (2005, July 23-29). Mind your language: Metaphors can move markets, p. 69.

Morin, R. (2005, August 5). Unconventional wisdom: Words that matter. The Washington Post.

Marketplace (2005, August 5).

Walker, T. (2005, October 7). Stock-speak: Researcher says media characterizations of market activity subtly influence investors. The Atlantic Journal-Constitution.



Managerial Mystique: How Charisma Is Crafted

Maia Young at Dent 2013

Is There Wisdom in Emotional Decision Making?

UCLA Campfire Talks, May 26, 2016