Betsy Levy Paluck: Changing climates of conflict: A social network driven experiment in 56 schools


Monday, April 6, 2015, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Allison Dining Room

Elizabeth Levy-Paluck, Associate Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University.

This seminar will present  the results of an harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) prevention and school climate improvement initiative carried out in New Jersey public middle schools.

About the speaker

Elizabeth Levy Paluck is Associate Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs and a Faculty Associate in the Department of Politics at Princeton University.

Her research is motivated by two basic ideas: The first idea is that social psychological theory offers potentially useful tools for changing society in constructive ways. The second idea is that studying attempts to change society is one of the most fruitful ways to develop and assess social psychological theory. Much of her work has focused on prejudice and conflict reduction, using large-scale field experiments to test theoretically driven interventions.

Through field experiments in Central and Horn of Africa and in the United States, Paluck has examined the impact of the mass media and interpersonal communication on tolerant and cooperative behaviors. She finds support for a behavioral change model based on social norms and group influence. To change behavior, Paluck suggests, it may be more fruitful to target citizens’ perceptions of typical or desirable behaviors (i.e. social norms) than their knowledge or beliefs.

How do social norms and behaviors shift in real world settings? Some initial suggestions from this research include peer or role model endorsement, narrative communication, and group discussion. Her work in post-conflict countries has led to related research on political cultural change and on civic education. Paluck is also interested in social scientific methodology—particularly causal inference and behavioral measurement.

 Paluck has been a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation and a Harvard Academy Scholar.  She is the recipient of a Sage Young Scholars Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and in 2011 was named an Association for Psychological Science Rising Star. Paluck was awarded the Heinz I. Eulau Award for best paper in the American Political Science Review in 2010, and is the recipient of an Early Career Award from the American Psychological Association's Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence.

Paluck earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from Yale in 2007.

See also: Spring 2015