Chia-Jung Tsay's headshot

Chia-Jung Tsay

Bruce and Janice Ellig Professor in Management

Wisconsin School of Business | Management and Human Resources Department

Hometown: New York City

Chia-Jung Tsay is an Associate Professor in the Management and Human Resources Department at UW-Madison. Her research examines the psychological processes that influence decision making about performance. She investigates the role of perception, expertise, and nonconscious biases in professional selection and advancement. Tsay’s research has been featured in media outlets across over 50 countries, including the Atlantic, BBC, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Economist, Forbes, Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, Los Angeles Times, Nature, NPR, New York Times, Scientific American, TIME, Wall Street Journal, and Wired. Tsay received a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Psychology with a secondary Ph.D. field in Music from Harvard University, and previously served as faculty at University College London.

Areas of expertise continued: entrepreneurship, time


The Visual Judgment of Performance

Social judgments and impressions are often made on the basis of minimal information. In the domain of music, people consistently report that the most important source of information in evaluating performance is sound; nonetheless, a first set of experiments demonstrated that people actually rely on visual information when making judgments about music performance. These findings were extended through additional sets of studies elaborating on the generalizability and persistence of these effects, such as in the judgment of entrepreneurial pitch competitions, analyst forecasts of firm performance, and in service operations in the food industry. Works in progress discuss the role of expertise in decision making and implications for organizational performance.

A Premium on Perceived “Naturalness”: Contradictions to Our Ideals of Fairness and Meritocracy

Across domains, organizations and institutions invest heavily in the judgment of performance. After all, we consider fair systems, processes, and access to equitable opportunities to be celebrated aspects of modern society. Yet beliefs about the origins of individual performance outcomes can shape important decisions in all spheres of accomplishment and any context that involves social evaluations. Challenging our broad, explicit admiration of hard work, my research shows that people are subject to a hidden “naturalness bias,” a phenomenon which I define as the premium people place on apparent natural ability and talent, as opposed to the same achievements obtained through striving and deliberate motivation. The initial findings were extended through additional sets of studies elaborating on the generalizability and persistence of these effects, such as in entrepreneurship, leadership, negotiations, networking, and employee development. Works in progress discuss the implications for gender, race, ethics and healthcare, and learning outcomes.

Gendered Time Surveillance and Suspicions at Work and in Professional Roles
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