I am a PhD student in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.

I am advised by Julie Downs, Silvia Saccardo, and George Loewenstein.

My research looks at how individuals respond to performance-related feedback and how such feedback can be framed to encourage uptake and minimize reactance. In this work I use a combination of social psychology and experimental economics methods to study why people are receptive to certain kinds of feedback and why they are more dubious or avoidant of others. My ongoing and published projects explore feedback (broadly construed) in a variety of domains including workplace performance, risk taking, and ethical decision making, among others.


BA. Psychology • Sarah Lawrence College • Bronxville, NY • 2015

MPhil. Social & Developmental Psychology • Selwyn College, Cambridge University • Cambridge, UK • 2016

PhD. Behavioral Decision Research w Psychology • Carnegie Mellon University • Pittsburgh, PA • Exp. 2021


How Close is Too Close: The effect of near losses on subsequent risk taking with George Loewenstein, Julie Downs, and Silvia Saccardo
This paper examines how individuals adjust their risk taking in response to close calls with undesirable outcomes (near losses) and explores the possible mechanisms, cognitive and emotional, that drive these effects. We present four MTurk experiments (N=6,191) that vary people’s proximity to losses and measure the extent of their behavioral adjustment. We find that closeness to undesirable outcomes affects later risk taking: Near misses substantially decrease risk taking, and far misses substantially increase risk taking relative to no feedback. We further find that these effects persist following a 1-hour delay and are thus not likely to be caused by transient shifts in affect. Finally, we show that closeness to undesirable outcomes leads to changes in estimates of the likelihood of similar outcomes in the future, and that this shift explains behavioral adjustment in our risk-taking task. Taken together, our findings support a cognitive rather than emotional account of near-miss effects.

Near-Miss Deterrence: Incorporating Near-Miss Effects into Deterrence Theory with Silvia Saccardo, George Loewenstein, and Julie Downs
We investigate the applications of near-miss effects to theories of effective deterrence. Classical deterrence theory specifies two types of criminal deterrence: general deterrence, in which potential criminals are deterred from offending by the threat of punishment, and specific deterrence, in which criminals who have already offended are deterred from re-offending by experiences with punishment. In this paper, we introduce a novel category of deterrence–Near Miss Deterrence–that falls between general and specific deterrence. Under near-miss deterrence, transgressors do not experience punishment directly, but rather feel a sense of subjective closeness to an avoided punishment and adjust their behavior accordingly. Across two experimental studies (N = 2,049), we study how individuals behave after getting away with a first instance of cheating, and demonstrate the deterrent effects of near misses. We show that participants who cheat and experience subsequent "close calls" with punishment reduce their cheating in levels comparable to cheaters who are punished. By contrast, participants who avoid punishment by wider margins do not decrease their cheating. We do not find evidence that this effect is driven by transient shifts in affect. These results have important implications for theories of deterrence and for policy.



twitter: @stevepermut