Sheena Iyengar

Sheena Iyengar

Ph.D., Stanford University, 1997

General Area of Research

Challenges to the basic assumption that choice is always preferred and unilaterally beneficial.

Current Research

In general, my research examines contexts in which people actually prefer to have their choices limited or entirely removed. A number of my cross-cultural studies, for instance, have demonstrated that the preference for choice is not a globally shared desire and, indeed, members of non-Western cultures often prefer to have their choices made by others. Moreover, despite the rhetoric of choice in American society, my research further shows that even choice-loving Americans increasingly prefer to have their option set limited, rather than expanded. 

Currently, I am conducting a number of studies which bring together the disciplines of psychology and economics. In doing so, I am asking questions such as: how does one incentivize greater retirement savings behavior among Americans? Are there prescriptions for increasing decision quality? Through a combination of archival data analyses and laboratory experiments, my collaborators and I have been studying the way that choice can be manipulated to hamper or enhance retirement savings behavior.

Relevant Publications

Botti, S., and Iyengar, S.S. (2004). The psychological pleasure and pain of choosing: When people prefer choosing at the cost of subsequent satisfaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 312-326.

When choice os demotivating: Can one desire too much of a good thing? Iyengar, S. S., and Lepper, M. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 995-1006. (2000).

Courses Taught