Mechanisms of Explanation vs. Mechanisms of Change: Tensions Between Basic Theory Construction and Practical Application
Impacting Science Speaker Series
Past Talk
Neil Lewis Jr.
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication at Cornell University
Tuesday
May 18, 2021
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12:00 pm
177 Huntington Ave
Online
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11th floor

This talk is part of the Impacting Science Speaker Series hosted by the Social Design Lab at Northeastern. The registration link for the talk can be found here.

Since the cognitive revolution, the social sciences have prioritized conducting “basic” research studies, often in non-naturalistic settings with convenience samples that enable us to isolate explanatory mechanisms of interest (c.f., Cialdini, 2009). While this shift in research approach has expedited the rate of discovery in one sense, the shift away from studying naturally occurring behavior in a variety of settings with diverse groups of people has created a tension—it has limited our ability to apply our findings to contemporary problems in the world (IJzerman, Lewis, et al., 2020). In this talk I will discuss the distinction between mechanisms for explaining behavior and mechanisms for changing behavior, and their implications for advancing social scientific theory (Earl & Lewis, 2019) as well as the development and scaling of interventions that leverage social psychological insights to improve social outcomes (Lewis et al., 2020).

About the speaker
About the speaker
Neil Lewis, Jr. is a behavioral, intervention, and meta-scientist at Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medicine, where he is an assistant professor in the department of communication, division of general internal medicine, and graduate field of psychology. Lewis is also a science communicator who writes about the application of social and behavioral science research in policy and practice at FiveThirtyEight and elsewhere.‍
Neil Lewis, Jr. is a behavioral, intervention, and meta-scientist at Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medicine, where he is an assistant professor in the department of communication, division of general internal medicine, and graduate field of psychology. Lewis is also a science communicator who writes about the application of social and behavioral science research in policy and practice at FiveThirtyEight and elsewhere.‍