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 and holds a joint appointment at USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics. She also writes 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.
Jehan studies how our judgments and decisions are biased by contextual factors that aren't relevant to the problem at hand. Her research has shown how the order of positive and negative framing (like, a 60% survival rate and a 40% morality rate) can bias our attitudes and feelings, how the grouping of investment options can bias how we allocate resources among those options, and how people hold biased ideas of what they like in romantic partners that doesn't correspond to how they evaluate partners in real life. Given these insights into bias, she also studies how to nudge people to make smarter and healthier choices (like, get a vaccine).
Jehan’s research uses online, laboratory, and field experiments to understand cognitive 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. 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.