University of Cambridge > > Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) >  Life in a Zero-Sum Game: How implicit game theories can shape social and economic realities

Life in a Zero-Sum Game: How implicit game theories can shape social and economic realities

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To know how to win, you first have to know what game you are playing. In the same way that the rules and structure of a game critically shape one’s strategies and success within the game, an implicit theory about what kind of game life is may have the power to shape appraisals, motives, and behaviors across life domains. One of the simplest and most widely known games is the zero-sum game, in which gains for one party are earned at the expense of another, and vice versa, such that all winnings and losses sum to zero. While truly zero-sum situations are rare, some people view all of life as if it were a zero-sum game. In this talk, I will introduce a phenomenon called “Zero-Sum Mindset” and share research about how this implicit game theory may shape basic cognitive processing, perceptions and motives across domains and situations, leading to behaviors and strategies that bring about the very reality they perceive: increased scarcity and antagonism.

Patricia Andrews Fearon is a PhD Candidate and Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge working with Dr. David Good. Her research investigates the cognitive and emotional underpinnings of intergroup conflict with a particular focus on intervention. She has consulted for organizations such as the European Commission, Peace Direct and The Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy. Prior to her doctoral work at Cambridge, Andrews Fearon was a post-baccalaureate scholar at UC Berkeley working with Dr. Iris Mauss and Dr. Oliver John in the Emotion and Emotion Regulation Laboratory. Her published research has examined stress, cognitive complexity, and emotion regulation, as well as interventions that aim to increase cognitive complexity in fragile conflict contexts such as Bosnia and Pakistan. Before returning to academia, Andrews Fearon had a short career in journalism and media that included directing documentaries, and work with CNN , TIME Inc., and the NGO Room to Read where she created an award-winning global literacy campaign and coordinated with the White House and international press for Michelle Obama’s visit to Cambodia. Outside of research, Andrews Fearon is a volunteer conflict mediator, an avid backpacker and cyclist, and a mediocre baker.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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