Sweet, sweet study of the mind


At 11 a.m. Wednesday Liz Majka, AM'07, and Kylie Power, a MAPSS student matriculating in the fall, line up candy in the Reynolds Club lobby outside the C-Shop, readying tables to entice passersby into taking their social-psychology studies.

They both have their own studies to administer today; the reward for Majka's, who works in Chicago Booth professor Ayelet Fishbach's lab, is Hershey's Sticks, while Power, who works under psychologist Penny Visser, offers an array of candy bars. Neither can reveal exactly what she's investigating because if subjects knew in advance, the results could be tainted. Labs conduct research in the Reynolds Club once a week or so, says Majka. Usually it's preliminary work, but sometimes psychologists gather data for actual studies. Holding the surveys there, rather than in a lab, works if they don't require a "controlled environment." It's cheaper to hand out candy, she explains, than to shell out money to research subjects.

"One minute of your time for chocolate!" Majka yells at a student. She asks a few people if they are undergraduates, a prerequisite for completing Power's study. "I was an undergraduate before your dad even existed!" one man shouts back, an indignant look on his face. He won't be receiving any chocolate today.

Seth Mayer, '08

Photo: Kylie Power, who begins the MAPSS program next year, participates in Liz Majka's study.

September 7, 2007