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Nov. 30th | Experimental Design Workshop: Helping the Self Through Empathy for Others -&- Schooling, Stigma and Periods Among Adolescent Girls in Tanzania

  • Knox Hall 501D 606 West 122nd Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

Pictured above, left-right: Megan Goldring (Psychology, Columbia), Sandra Aguilar-Gomez (Sustainable Development, Columbia), Naomi Heller (Earth Institute, Columbia), & Anja Benshaul-Tolonen (Economics, Barnard College)

WHEN: Friday, November 30th, 2018, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
WHERE: Knox Hall 501D, 606 W 122nd Street

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch and light refreshments will be provided. All are welcome!

Helping the Self Through Empathy for Others: Does Anchoring the Decision-Making Process on Other People Improve Self-Directed Choices?

Megan Goldring, Psychology, Columbia

Prior research shows that people make more optimal choices on behalf of other people than they do for themselves—people are better able to delay gratification and to take valued risks for someone else. Using data from two studies, I will suggest that we can leverage this difference to improve self-directed health decisions. In other words, people make better health choices for themselves if they first make a health choice on behalf of someone else. I will seek guidance on designing a follow-up study in this line of work, as well as a discussion on boundary conditions and potential mediators for this effect.

Megan Goldring is a Ph.D. student at Columbia Psychology. Her work uncovers how interpersonal processes influence intrapersonal health and well-being. She previously worked as a research fellow at the NIH, where she studied the downstream health consequences of moral emotions.

Schooling, Stigma and Periods Among Adolescent Girls in Tanzania

Sandra Aguilar-Gomez, Sustainable Development, Columbia
Anja Benshaul-Tolonen, Economics, Barnard College
Naomi Heller, Earth Institute, Columbia

No previous research has evaluated the effect of menstrual health education for boys on girls’ wellbeing. Given that girls often report fear of being teased, educating boys may play a significant role in determining girls’ comfort with menstrual management. We will collect quantitative data on the knowledge and understanding of menstruation, as well as attitudes towards periods, and complement it with data collected in list experiments with incentivized questions—monetary rewards for giving the right answer. 

Sandra Aguilar-Gomez studies gender disparities in the context of natural resources, as well as women’s health in developing countries. Anja Benshaul-Tolonen is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Barnard College, studying the economics of gender and the household, transmission of information, intimate partner and sexual violence, and access to sanitation for adolescent girls. Naomi Heller’s work focuses on the roles of health and gender in development economics.

Through the Experimental Design Workshop, social scientists at Columbia have the opportunity to workshop the design of an experiment they have not yet fielded. Presenters will receive specific, actionable feedback on that design from other workshop participants. For inquiries about the Experimental Design Workshop Series, please contact Daniel Tadmon ( or Maria Abascal (

Funding support for the Experimental Design Workshop Series is provided by the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series, administered by INCITE, which features events and programming that embody and honor Lazarsfeld’s commitment to the improvement of methodological approaches that address concerns of vital cultural and social significance.

If you are interested in joining the workshop's email list, please contact Daniel Tadmon (