Nicholas Epley: “Undersociality”

  • November 2, 2018 • 9 AM – 10:30 AM
  • Bauer Hall 550


Being connected to others increases health and happiness, and yet people routinely forgo opportunities for prosocial connections with friends, family members, neighbors, and even strangers.  This raises a broad question: Are people social enough for their own wellbeing?  In experiments asking participants to connect with strangers, reconnect with old friends, express gratitude, perform random acts of kindness, give compliments, and engage in constructive confrontation, we find consistent evidence that people underestimate the positive impact of prosocial interactions on both themselves and others.  Systematically underestimate the positive impact of prosocial actions may diminish people’s interest in engaging with others, to the detriment of both one’s own and others wellbeing.


Nicholas Epley is the John Templeton Keller Professor of Behavior Science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He studies social cognition—how thinking people think about other thinking people—to understand why smart people so routinely misunderstand each other. His research has appeared in more than two dozen empirical journals, been featured by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and CNN, among many others, and has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Templeton Foundation. He has been awarded the 2008 Theoretical Innovation Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the 2011 Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Association, and the 2015 Book Prize for the Promotion of Social and Personality Science. Epley was named a “professor to watch” by the Financial Times, one of the “World’s Best 40 under 40 Business School Professors” by Poets and Quants, and one of the 100 Most Influential in Business Ethics in 2015 by Ethisphere. He is the author of Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want.

Epley received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy in 1996 from Saint Olaf College. In 2001, he graduated from Cornell University with a PhD in psychology, where he earned a Graduate Teaching Award from the Department of Psychology as well as a Cornell University Teaching Fellowship.

For more information, contact Cece Myers,