Jehan Sparks, Ph.D.
Jehan is a behavioral scientist who studies decision making and behavior change. She is a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA Anderson School of Management working with Craig Fox in the Behavioral Decision Making area, and holds a joint appointment at USC Price School of Public Policy in the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics. She is also the editor of the Behavioral Science and Policy Association (BSPA) Weekly Newsletter.
Jehan received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology (with a minor in Quantitative Psychology) from UC Davis in 2018. Along the way, she completed Ph.D. coursework in Agricultural and Resource Economics, ultimately earning masters degrees in both Economics (2013) and Psychology (2015) from UC Davis. She received her B.A. in Economics and Philosophy (with honors) from Columbia University in 2010, where she was awarded the Romine Prize for writing the best senior thesis in the Economics department.
Jehan's primary line of research investigates how people get "stuck" in certain ways of thinking—like a negative (vs. positive) frame or a thought of what could have been worse (vs. better)—and the contextual factors that enable people to get unstuck and think more flexibly. She also investigates whether people have insight into what they like and dislike in interpersonal relationships (e.g., romantic partners), and how to nudge people to make healthier choices (e.g., get a vaccine).
Jehan’s research uses online, laboratory, and field experiments to understand cognitive and behavioral biases. This work intersects with research on framing, counterfactual thinking, ambivalence, and uncertainty, and is intended to advance our understanding of judgment and decision making while having implications for the types of real-world choices people face every day as they think about who to vote for, who to date, and how to stay healthy.
Jehan previously worked in Germany, as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cologne, and briefly, in Mangochi, Malawi, as a research assistant on a behavioral science-meets-international development project. Her name means "the World." She is an identical twin, an avid distance runner, and enjoys traveling, cooking, politics, social justice, dancing, hiking, and playing with her niece and nephew.