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Clayton R. Critcher - Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley, CA, US

Clayton R. Critcher Clayton R. Critcher

Joe Shoong Chair of Business | Associate Professor | Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley


Identifying and explaining skills and shortcomings in people's social, economic, moral, and political judgments


Areas of Expertise (4)

Self and Social Judgment

Moral Psychology

Consumer Experience

Judgment and Decision Making


Clayton Critcher is an Associate Professor of marketing, cognitive science, and psychology at Berkeley Haas. A social psychologist, Critcher researches how people come to understand themselves and other people and to make judgments and decisions in economic, morally relevant, and social situations.

Education (2)

Cornell University: PhD, Psychology

Yale University: AB, Psychology

Honors & Awards (8)

Barbara and Gerson Bakar Faculty


Sage Young Scholar Award


Hellman Fellow


Carol D. Soc Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award


Science: Editors’ Choice


National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship


Yale University Angier Prize


Society of Experimental Social Psychology


Selected External Service & Affiliations (9)

  • Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Associate Editor
  • Social Psychological and Personality Science : Editorial Board
  • Self & Identity : Editorial Board
  • Association for Psychological Science
  • Association for Consumer Research
  • Society for Consumer Psychology
  • Society for Personality and Social Psychology
  • Society for Judgment and Decision Making
  • Society of Experimental Social Psychology

Positions Held (1)

At Haas since 2010

2020 - present: Director, Haas Behavioral Lab 2020 - present, PhD Field Advisor, Marketing 2017 – present, Institute for Personality and Social Research 2016 – present, Associate Professor of Marketing, Haas School of Business 2013 – present, Department of Psychology (affiliate) 2011 – present, Cognitive Science Faculty 2010 – 2016, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Haas School of Business

Media Appearances (10)

Psychologists reveal what everyone gets wrong about first impressions

Inverse  online


A study by Assoc. Prof. Clayton Critcher found that we evaluate other people’s moral character not simply by what they do, but also by context. This means that even if someone does something wrong, they can still be judged as being morally correct, depending on the circumstances. "Judgments about moral character are ultimately judgments about whether we trust and would be willing to invest in a person," he said.

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Why Do Politicians Need to Say 'I Approve This Message' in Their Ads?

Mental Floss  online


In 2002, legislation was introduced to make candidates "stand by their ads" in an attempt to make the political ad space more fair and decrease negative campaigning. According to research by Assoc. Prof. Clayton Critcher, it's had the opposite effect. Negative campaign ads made up 29 percent of political persuasion spots in 2000, and that number rose to 64 percent in 2012. In the week before the 2016 presidential election, 92 percent of ads were characterized as negative.

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Recalling Memories From A Distance Changes How Your Brain Works And Helps You Excel In Your Career

Forbes  online


Assoc. Prof. Clayton Critcher's research found that positive affirmations function as "cognitive expanders," bringing a wider perspective to diffuse the brain’s tunnel vision of self-threats. Self affirmations helped research participants cultivate a long-distance relationship with their so-called "judgment voice" and see themselves more broadly, bolstering their self-worth.

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California requires masks, but not everyone wears one. Here’s how to fix that

San Francisco Chronicle  online


Assoc. Prof. Clayton Critcher said mask mandates can trigger "reactance," the natural reactionary feeling people have when their freedoms are limited. An effective mask campaign must "reframe the issue not about what people have to do themselves, but about how we can all keep each other safe," he said.

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Why We Should Stop Worrying About What Others Think of Us

Knowledge@Wharton  online


Moon wrote the paper with Clayton Critcher, associate professor of marketing at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and Muping Gan, a former UC Berkeley graduate researcher who now works for YouTube. Moon recently discussed the implications of their research with Knowledge@Wharton.

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Political campaign ads may have ironic side effects

American Marketing Association podcast  radio


Assoc. Prof. Clayton Critcher was interviewed about his research that found mandatory candidate endorsements may incentivize nastiness.

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'I Approve This Message' Has an Unwelcome Subtext

Pacific Standard Magazine  online


Many participants in a study saw that notification as an indication that "the ad had been touched by regulation," said Clayton Critcher of the University of California–Berkeley, who co-authored the study with Minah Jung of New York University. "That gave a legitimizing halo to the message as a whole. We hope that by bringing this to light, policymakers might realize this provision is not serving the public, and find a better way"...

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That “I Approve” Tagline on Political Ads May Have Precisely the Opposite Effect of What Congress Intended

Mother Jones  online


“For a couple of reasons, when that tagline is added to political ads, then people believe the content of the ads more,” says study co-author Clayton Critcher, an associate professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “That’s particularly true for ads that people start out with the most skepticism about, which are precisely those ads that [Congress was] trying to discourage: negative ads. So adding the tagline, far from disincentivizing negativity in advertising, has actually made it surprisingly effective by increasing how true those messages seem.”

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Frisbees, Hula Hoops and Hacky Sacks. Southern California's Wham-O looks to reinvent its toys for the digital age

Los Angeles Times  online


“The downside of [Wham-O’s] business model—in which products themselves attain greater brand equity than their parent brands—is it means Wham-O has a more difficult time with launching new products,” said Clayton Critcher, a retail expert and professor at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “When each product is essentially its own brand, it raises the marketing challenges in pushing new products. It requires Wham-O to launch a new brand with each product.”

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How to Tell If Someone Will Succeed

Time Magazine  online


Study authors Melissa J. Ferguson, Professor of Psychology, Cornell University and Clayton R. Critcher, Associate Professor of Marketing, Cognitive Science, & Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, contributed this article illustrating how their research could be applied to predict how successful college students will be.

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Selected Research Grants (1)

"The Spreading of Perceived Exclusion"

National Science Foundation Grant 

Social Psychology

Selected Papers & Publications (6)

How quick decisions illuminate moral character

Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 308-315.

Critcher, C. R., Inbar, Y, & Pizarro, D. A.


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The overblown implications effect

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 118, 720-742.

Moon, A., Gan, M., & Critcher, C. R.


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The commonness fallacy: Commonly chosen options have less choice appeal than people think.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 118, 1-21.

Reit, E., & Critcher, C. R.


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Visceral fit: While in a visceral state, associated states of the world seem more likely

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Risen, J. L., & Critcher, C. R.


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How chronic self-views influence (and mislead) self-assessments of performance: Self-views shape bottom-up experiences with the task

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Critcher, C. R., & Dunning, D.


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Incidental environmental anchors

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

Critcher, C. R., & Gilovich, T.


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Teaching (1)


MBA 206 (Core)