Sherry Jueyu Wu’s research is concerned with group influence over long-lasting behavioral changes, and decision processes under resource disparity and social inequality.
“As a social psychologist and behavioral scientist, I study the equilibrium of forces ― from the individual, the group and the social environment ― that drive long-term behavior and attitudes in the real world,” she says.
Wu’s research in group dynamics has shown that changing a small facet of group life can lead to a change in a long-term behavioral pattern and in generalized attitudes. She conducted two large-scale field experiments with groups of Chinese factory workers and American university staff. Across 97 work groups and 1,924 workers, she found that increasing voice in groups through a brief intervention significantly boosted workers’ productivity. “The brief and immersive experience of a more egalitarian power structure in one’s work group shifted their attitudes toward authority and justice at the local organization,” she explains, “and in society more generally.”
Overlapping with her research on behavioral change, she has investigated people’s decisions within and perceptions of inequality and scarcity. “Social influence from nudges and choice architecture shifts behavioral patterns,” she says. “Insights gained from these socio-cognitive processes may apply broadly to how we design interventions to tackle poverty and inequality.”
Her current research questions ask: How can groups motivate us and sustain behavioral change? How do we respond to inequality and hierarchy, and what’s the impact of resource scarcity and inequality on people’s decision processes and psychological outcomes? How does diversity affect our performance and subjective experience? How do we design psychological tools to nudge people into adopting more desirable behavior?
Outside of academia, Wu enjoys yoga and meditation, and being an amateur physicist.
Ph.D. Psychology and Social Policy, 2019, Princeton University
B.A. Psychology (summa cum laude) and Economics, 2013, University of Virginia
Wu, S.J., & Paluck, E.L. Having a voice in your group: Increasing productivity through group influence.
Wu, S.J. & Paluck, E.L. Participatory practices at work change attitudes and behavior toward societal authority and justice.
Wu, S.J., Cheek, N. & Shafir, E. Mindfulness under scarcity.
Wu, S.J. & Coman, A. Using the past to understand the present: The case for case-based reasoning.
Duan, J., Wu, S.J. & Xu, T. Differential effects of power and status on advice-taking behavior.