As a social psychologist and behavioral scientist, I study the equilibrium of forces--from the individual, the group, and the social environment--driving long-term behavior and attitudes in the real world. My primary area of research is social psychology and the interplay of psychology and economics, centered around the overlapping themes of interconnection and inequality. My program of research is founded on the idea that if we understand the dynamic interactions of social forces, we may be able to shift behavior in an enduring way, rather than influencing one-time deviations from a pattern. Specifically, I employ canonical and emerging methods and theories to investigate social and group influence on behavioral and attitudinal changes.

Some of my current research questions ask: How can groups motivate us, and sustain behavior 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 impact our performance and subjective experience? How do we design psychological tools to nudge people into adopting more desirable behavior?

I’m a broad thinker, and also an active promoter of multidisciplinary collaboration. In the meantime, I keenly follow the Lewinian tradition of being a practical theorist.


Group dynamics, Social influence, and Behavioral change

Wu, S. J., & Paluck, E. L. (under review). Lewin at work: Increasing productivity through group influence. [link]

Pre-registration and data code files

Wu, S. J., & Paluck, E. L. (under review). Can attitudes toward authority and justice change over the short term? Testing theories of participatory democracy and voice in groups.

Pre-registration and data code files

Wu, S. J., & Paluck, E. L. (in press). Designing nudges for the context: Golden coin decals nudge workplace behavior in China. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. [link]

Pre-registration and data code files

Project in progress (Manuscript in prep): Increasing productivity and morale at work: A proposal at Princeton (with Betsy Levy Paluck).  


Project in progress: Celebrity media influence and charitable giving (with David Rand-MIT, Betsy Levy Paluck, Robin Gomila, Zivvy Epstein-MIT).


Project in progress: How ideological diversity affects performance and inclusion on college campuses. With Betsy Levy Paluck & Cecilia Rouse.

Decision-making and Social Perceptions, in Response to Inequality

Project in progress (Manuscript in prep): Scarcity, mindfulness, and mind wandering (with Eldar Shafir, Shai Davidai-The New School, Nathan Cheek).

Wu., S. J., Bai, X., & Fiske, S. T. (2018). Admired rich or resented rich? How two cultures vary in envy. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 49(7), 1114-1143. [link]

Data and study materials

Paluck, E. L., Shafir, E., & Wu, S. J. (2017). Ignoring alarming news brings indifference: Learning about the world and the self. Cognition, 167, 160-171. [link]

Replication code: Study OneOne-aTwoThree.

Duan, J., Wu, S. J.*, & Sun, L. (2017). Do the powerful discount the future less? The effects of power on temporal discounting. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1007. (*corresponding author) [link]


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. (revise and resubmit). Differential effects of power and status on advice-taking behavior.



Gantman, A., Gomila, R., Martinez, J. E., Matias, J. N., Paluck, E. L., Starck, J., Wu, S. J.*, & Yaffe, N. (2018). A pragmatic philosophy of psychological science and its implications for replication: Commentary on Zwaan et al. Brain and Behavioral Sciences, 41. (*authorship in alphabetical order) [link]