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Talk Title: Quantifying The Power of Mental Shortcuts in Persuasive Communication with Causal Inference from Text

Talk Abstract: The reliance of individuals on mental shortcuts based on factors such as gender, affiliation, and social status could distort the equitability of interpersonal discussions in various settings. Yet, the impact of such shortcuts in real-world discussions remains challenging to quantify. In this talk, I propose a novel quasi-experimental study that incorporates unstructured text in a principled manner to quantify the causal effect of status indicators in persuasive communication. I also examine how linguistic and rhetorical devices moderate this effect, and thus provide communication strategies to potentially reduce individuals’ reliance on mental shortcuts. I discuss implications for fair communication policies both within organizations and in society at large.

Bio: Emaad Manzoor is a PhD candidate in the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, and will begin as an assistant professor of Operations and Information Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Fall 2021. Substantively, he designs randomized experiments and quasi-experimental studies to quantify the persuasive power of mental shortcuts in text-based communication, and how language can be used to moderate this power. Methodologically, he develops data-mining techniques for evolving networks and statistical frameworks for causal inference with text. He is funded by a 2020 McKinsey & Company PhD Fellowship, and was a finalist for the 2019 Snap Research PhD Fellowship, the 2019 Jane Street Depth First Learning Fellowship, and the 2019 INFORMS Annual Meeting Best Paper award.