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Sunita Sah

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Sunita Sah.

KPMG Professor of Management Studies
Head of the Organisational Behaviour subject group

MD (University of Edinburgh), MBA (London Business School), MS, PhD (Tepper Business School, Carnegie Mellon University)

Research interests

Ethics, influence and advice; trust; advisor-advisee relationships; conflicts of interest; institutional corruption; transparency; disclosure; improving decisions; influence; compliance.

Sunita Sah is an award-winning professor and organisational psychologist who has spent over a decade conducting ground-breaking research on advisor-advisee relationships, trust, conflicts-of-interest, disclosure and compliance. Her research has been published in top academic journals in management, medicine, economics and psychology, and also in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, and Scientific American.

Professor Sah’s research integrates the theories and methods of organisational behaviour, social psychology, behavioural economics, and judgment and decision making. She uses a multi-method approach of randomised laboratory and field experiments, surveys, qualitative analysis, and large real-world archival data sets.

Subject group: Organisational Behaviour

Professional experience

Professor Sah is an Officer in the International Behavioural Public Policy Association and on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Behavioural Economics in Health Network. She is an Elected Fellow of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and Society of Experimental Social Psychology.

Before entering academia, Professor Sah worked as a physician in the UK’s National Health Service. Later, while working as a management consultant for the pharmaceutical industry, she became intrigued with the relationships between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry and particularly the effects of these relationships on doctors’ decision-making and ultimately patients. Her insights and knowledge from both sides of the physician-industry relationship motivated her curiosity to study pervasive conflicts of interest (potential clashes between advisors’ professional responsibilities and personal self-interests) in medicine and other professions.

Professor Sah recently served as a Commissioner on the US National Commission on Forensic Science created to improve the scientific rigour of forensic science. She has also been invited to discuss her work with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Australian Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

Previous appointments

Professor Sah has held academic positions at Cornell, Georgetown, Duke and Harvard Universities.

Awards & honours

  • Elected Fellow, Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2020
  • Elected Fellow, Society of Experimental Social Psychology, 2020
  • Visiting Researcher, Russell Sage Foundation, 2020-2021
  • Visiting Scholar, Russell Sage Foundation, 2019-2020
  • Showcase Symposium, Academy of Management Conference, 2019
  • Best Paper Proceedings, Academy of Management Conference, 2011, 2017, 2018
  • Institute of Social Sciences Fellowship, Cornell University, 2018-2019
  • Half-Century Club Faculty Research Fellowship, Cornell University, 2017-2019
  • Balen Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellowship, Cornell University, 2015-2020
  • Co-Principal Investigator Grant, Greenwall Foundation (for research on real-world disclosures of conflicts of interest), 2015
  • Fellowship Award, Edmond J. Safra Center of Ethics, Harvard University,2011-2015
  • Research Award, Georgetown Center for Financial Markets and Policy, 2013, 2014
  • Research Award, Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research, 2013, 2014
  • Finalist for Best Paper Award in the Fields of Experimental Economics, Behavioural Economics and Decision Theory, Exeter Prize, 2014
  • Best Paper Award, International Academy of Management and Business, 2013
  • Dissertation Award Finalist, Academy of Management, Social Issues in Management, 2012
  • Best Paper Award, Managerial and Organizational Cognition, Academy of Management, 2011
  • Best Poster Presentation Award, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, 2010
  • Best Paper Award, Society for Business Ethics, 2010
  • Scholar Award, International Association of Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution Research Center, Kellogg School of Management, 2010
  • Poster Presentation Award and Honorable Mention, Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2010
  • Investigator Grant, National Institute of Mental Health for research on the impact of conflict of interest policies on physicians’ prescribing behaviour), 2010-2012
  • Funding Award, Carnegie Mellon Graduate Student Association, 2008, 2010
  • Best Paper Award in Organizational Behaviour, Trans-Atlantic Doctoral Conference, London Business School, 2009
  • National Science Foundation Grant, Society for Medical Decision Making, 2009
  • fMRI Training Course Scholarship Award, University of Michigan, 2009
  • Decision Neuroscience Workshop Scholarship Award, Ross Business School, 2009
  • William Larimer Mellon Fellowship Award, Carnegie Mellon University, 2008-2010
  • MBA funding,IMS Health, London, 2003-2005
  • Women’s Scholarship Prize for Leadership Potential, London Business School, 2003

Selected publications

Here are a selection of Sunita Sah’s publications. Please see the “Selected publications” tab above for a more comprehensive list.

Rose, S., Sah, S., Dweik, R., Schmidt, C., Mercer, M., Mitchum, K., Karafa K. and Robertson, C. (2021) “Patient responses to physician disclosures of industry conflicts of interest: A randomized field experiment.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2019.03.005) (published online Mar 2019)

Habersaat, K.B., Betsch, C., Danchin, M., Sunstein, C., Bohm, R., Falk, A., Brewer, N.T., Omer, S.B., Scherzer, M., Sah, S. et al (2020) “Ten considerations for effectively managing the COVID-19 transition.Nature Human Behaviour, 4: 677-687 (DOI: 10.1038/s41562-020-0906-x)

Sah, S. and Feiler, D. (2020) “Conflict of interest disclosure with high quality advice: the disclosure penalty and the altruistic signal.” Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 26(1): 88-104 (DOI: 10.1037/law0000215)

Sah, S. (2019) “Conflict of interest disclosure as a reminder of professional norms: clients first!” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 154: 62-79 (DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2019.07.005)

Sah, S. (2019)“Understanding the (perverse) effects of disclosing conflicts of interest: a direct replication study.” Journal of Economic Psychology, 75: 102118 (DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2018.10.010)

Sah, S. and Read, D. (2019) “Mind the (information) gap: strategic non-disclosure by marketers and interventions to increase consumer deliberation.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 26(3): 432-452 (DOI: 10.1037/xap0000260)

Journal articles

Sah, S. and Loewenstein, G. (2010) “Effect of reminders of personal sacrifice and suggested rationalizations on residents’ self-reported willingness to accept gifts: a randomized trial.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 304(11): 1204-1211 (DOI: 10.1001/jama.2010.1310)

Loewenstein, G., Cain, D. and Sah, S. (2011) “The limits of transparency: pitfalls and potential of disclosing conflicts of interest.” American Economic Review; Paper and Proceedings, 101(3): 423-428 (DOI: 10.1257/aer.101.3.423)

Loewenstein, G., Sah, S. and Cain, D. (2012) “The unintended consequences of conflict of interest disclosure.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 307(7):669-670 (DOI: 10.1001/jama.2012.154)

Sah, S. (2012) “Conflicts of interest and your physician: psychological processes that cause unexpected changes in behavior.” Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 40(3): 482-487 (DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-720X.2012.00680.x)

Sah, S. (2012) “The burden of disclosure: what you do know can hurt you.” Harvard Ethics Lab Blog, 1 October 2012

Sah, S. and Loewenstein, G. (2012) “More affected = more neglected: amplification of bias in advice to the unidentified and many.” Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3(3): 365-372 (DOI: 10.1177/1948550611422958)

Barry, M., Chan, E., Moulton, B., Sah, S., Simmons, M. and Braddock, C. (2013) “Disclosing conflicts of interest in patient decision aids.” BMC Medical Informatics and  Decision Making, 13(S2): S3 (DOI: 10.1186/1472-6947-13-S2-S3)

Sah, S. (2013) “Essays on conflicts of interest in medicine.” Business and Society, 52(4): 666-678 (DOI: 10.1177/0007650313496366)

Sah, S. (2013) “What can radiology do to curb investigation momentum?” Health Imaging, 28 April 2013

Sah, S., Elias, P. and Ariely, D. (2013) “Investigation momentum: the relentless pursuit to resolve uncertainty.” JAMA Internal Medicine, 173(10): 932-933 (DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.401)

Sah, S., Loewenstein, G. and Cain, D. (2013) “The burden of disclosure: increased compliance with distrusted advice.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(2): 289-304 (DOI: 10.1037/a0030527)

Sah, S., Moore, D. and MacCoun, R. (2013) “Cheap talk and credibility: the consequences of confidence and accuracy on advisor credibility and persuasiveness.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 121(2): 246-255 (DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2013.02.001)

Barnes, C., Gunia, B. and Sah, S. (2014) “Morning people are less ethical at night and evening people are less ethical in the morning.” Harvard Business Review, 23 June 2014

Gunia, B., Barnes C. and Sah, S. (2014) “The morality of larks and owls: unethical behavior depends on chronotype as well as time-of-day.” Psychological Science, 25(12): 2272-2274 (DOI: 10.1177/0956797614541989)

Sah, S. and Loewenstein, G. (2014) “Nothing to declare: mandatory and voluntary disclosure leads advisors to avoid conflicts of interest.” Psychological Science, 25(2): 575-584 (DOI: 10.1177/0956797613511824)

Sah, S. (2015) “Investigations before examinations: this is how we practice medicine here.” JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(3): 342-343 (DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.7549)

Sah, S. (2015) “The problem with investigation before examination.” Psychology Today, 29 July 2015

Sah, S. and Loewenstein, G. (2015) “Conflicted advice and second opinions: benefits, but unintended consequences.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 130: 89-107 (DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2015.06.005)

Sah, S., Robertson, C. and Baughman, S. (2015)“Blinding prosecutors to defendants’ race: a policy proposal to reduce unconscious bias in the criminal justice system.” Behavioral Science and Policy, 1(2): 69-76

Baughman, S., Robertson, C. and Sah, S. (2016) “For fairer courts, address prosecutor bias.” New Republic, 14 October 2016

Sah, S. (2016) “The paradox of disclosure.” The New York Times, 8 July 2016

Sah, S., Fagerlin, A. and Ubel, P. (2016)“Effect of physician disclosure of specialty bias on patient trust and treatment choice.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(27): 7465-7469 (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1604908113)

Sah, S., Tannenbaum, D., Cleary, H., Feldman, Y., Glaser, J., Lerman, A., MacCoun, R., Maguire, E., Slovic, P., Spellman, B., Spohn, C. and Winship, C. (2016) “Combating biased decision making and promoting justice and equal treatment.” Behavioral Science and Policy, 2(2): 78-87

Wolf, E., Lee, J., Sah, S. and Brooks, A. (2016) “Managing perceptions of distress at work: reframing emotion as passion.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 137: 1-12 (DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2016.07.003)

Hwong, A., Sah, S., Lehmann, L. (2017)“The effects of public disclosure of industry payments to physicians on patient trust: a randomized experiment.” Journal of General Internal Medicine, 32(11): 1186-1192 (DOI: 10.1007/s11606-017-4122-y)

Larkin, I., Ang, D., Steinhart, J., Chao, M., Patterson, M., Sah, S., Wu, T., Schoenbaum, M., Hutchins, D., Brennan, T. and Loewenstein, G. (2017)“Association between academic medical center pharmaceutical detailing policies and physician prescribing behavior.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 317(17): 1785-1795 (DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.4039)

Sah, S. (2017) “Let’s keep the science in forensic science.” ScientificAmerican.com, 1 October 2017

Sah, S. (2017) “Policy solutions to conflicts of interest: the value of professional norms.” Behavioural Public Policy, 1(2): 177-189 (DOI: 10.1017/bpp.2016.9)

Sah, S. and Read, D. (2017) “Missing product information doesn’t bother consumers as much as it should.” Harvard Business Review, 28 September 2017

Sah, S., Casadevall, A., Bell, S., Gates, J., Albright, T. and Denton, B. (2017) “We must strengthen the ‘science’ in forensic science.Scientific American, 8 May 2017

Sah, S., Casadevall, A., Bell, S., Gates, S.J., Albright, T.D. and Denton, M.B. (2017) “Forensic science must be scientific.” Scientific American, 317(4): 12 (DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican1017-12)

Bell, S., Sah, S., Albright, T., Gates, J., Denton, B. and Casadevall, A. (2018) “A call for more science in forensic science.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(18): 4541-4544 (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1712161115)

Sah, S., Malaviya, P. and Thompson, D. (2018)“Conflict of interest disclosure as an expertise cue: differential effects of automatic and deliberative processing.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 147: 127-146 (DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2018.05.008)

Jatoi, I and Sah, S. (2019) “Clinical practice guidelines and the overuse of healthcare services: need for reform.” Canadian Medical Association Journal, 191(11):297-298 (DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.181496)

Sah, S. (2019) “Conflict of interest disclosure as a reminder of professional norms: clients first!” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 154: 62-79 (DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2019.07.005)

Sah, S. (2019) “House impeachment inquiry may help restore the political and social norms that Trump flouts.” The Conversation, 13 November 2019

Sah, S. (2019) “Understanding the (perverse) effects of disclosing conflicts of interest: a direct replication study.” Journal of Economic Psychology, 75: 102118 (DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2018.10.010)

Sah, S. (2019) “Why humans find it so hard to resist taking bad advice.” The Los Angeles Times, 22 October 2019

Sah, S. and Read, D. (2019) “Mind the (information) gap: strategic non-disclosure by marketers and interventions to increase consumer deliberation.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 26(3): 432-452 (DOI: 10.1037/xap0000260)

Sah, S., Loewenstein, G. and Cain, D. (2019) “Insinuation anxiety: concern that advice rejection will signal distrust after conflict of interest disclosures.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 45(7): 1099-1112 (DOI: 10.1177/0146167218805991)

Habersaat, K.B., Betsch, C., Danchin, M., Sunstein, C., Bohm, R., Falk, A., Brewer, N.T., Omer, S.B., Scherzer, M., Sah, S.  et al (2020) “Ten considerations for effectively managing the COVID-19 transition.Nature Human Behaviour, 4: 677-687 (DOI: 10.1038/s41562-020-0906-x)

Sah, S. (2020) “Conflicts of interest and COVID.” Scientific American, 3 December 2020

Sah, S. and Feiler, D. (2020) “Conflict of interest disclosure with high quality advice: the disclosure penalty and the altruistic signal.” Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 26(1): 88-104 (DOI: 10.1037/law0000215)

Rose, S., Sah, S., Dweik, R., Schmidt, C., Mercer, M., Mitchum, K., Karafa K. and Robertson, C. (2021) “Patient responses to physician disclosures of industry conflicts of interest: a randomized field experiment.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2019.03.005) (published online Mar 2019)

Books, monographs, reports & case studies

Sah, S. (2011) Expert report of Sunita Sah regarding gifts and other compensation given to health care professionals by Johnson and Johnson and Scios Inc. Submitted to the US Department of Justice.

Sah, S. (2018) Conflicts of interest and disclosure. Submitted to The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

Sah, S. (2019) Expert report of Sunita Sah regarding biases in, and reliability of, the forensic analysis conducted in the Kevin Keith case. Submitted to the Office of the Ohio Public Defender.

Book chapters

Barry, M., Braddock, C., Chan, E., Moulton, B., Sah, S. and Simmons, M. (2012) “Disclosing conflicts of interest.” In: Volk, R. and Llewellyn-Thomas, H. (eds.) Update of the International Decision Aids Standards (IPDAS) collaboration’s background document. IPDAS Collaboration.

Sah, S., Cain, D.M. and Loewenstein, G. (2013) “Confessing one’s sins but still committing them: transparency and the failure of disclosure.” In: Oliver, A.J. (ed.) Essays in behavioural public policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.148-164

Sah, S. and Loewenstein, G. (2017) “Effect of reminders of personal sacrifice and suggested rationalizations on residents’ self-reported willingness to accept gifts.” In: Nichols, P.M. and Robertson, D.C. (eds.) Thinking about bribery: neuroscience, moral cognition and the psychology of bribery. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.123-154

Calories and conflict

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Looking at 2021

Cambridge Judge faculty talk about what to expect in 2021 in areas ranging from manufacturing to the workplace to the arts. Predictions…

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Conflicts of interest

Financial incentives linked to unconscious bias may have driven leaders' pandemic decisions, says an article in Scientific American by Professor Sunita Sah…

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A smoother transition

Ten considerations to engage people and communities in the transition phase from government measures to combat COVID-19 from Professor Sunita Sah. An…

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Fast Company: Research reveals the return to work is causing a specific type of anxiety

Sunita Sah, KPMG Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, discusses employees’ mental health in the preparation to returning to…

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World Economic Forum: Mental health: Pressure to return to the office could be making employees more anxious

“A new study has found that all 4,000 office workers asked about returning to the office reported feeling anxious,” writes Sunita Sah,…

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The Conversation: Mental health: pressure to return to the office could be making employees more anxious

Sunita Sah, KPMG Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, writes about employees’ mental health in a sight of returning…

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The New York Times: Start retraining for social interactions

Sunita Sah, KPMG Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, comments on "insinuation anxiety" in decision making. “Assess your own…

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Financial Times: Business School Briefing: well-behaved meetings, MBA startup funds, creativity

FT’s business education correspondent Jonathan Moules recommends a piece in Forbes on “how working from home can affect the ethics of employee…

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Forbes: Why working from home might promote more ethical decisions

Sunita Sah, KPMG Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, discusses why working from home might promote more ethical decisions.…

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Forbes: It’s not just the anti-vaxxers: Why are so many people wary of Covid-19 vaccines?

Sunita Sah, KPMG Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, discusses the reasons why people mistrust the Covid-19 vaccines and…

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Forbes: The Biden Administration must put the science back into forensic science

Sunita Sah, KPMG Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, argues for a return to independent oversight to improve the…

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Forbes: Storming of the U.S. Capitol: How blind loyalty fuels the unthinkable

Sunita Sah, KPMG Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, writes about the dark side of loyalty in relation to…

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Forbes: Covid-19 conspiracies: How can we deal with misinformation?

Sunita Sah, KPMG Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, discusses on how to deal with misinformation during coronavirus pandemic…

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Scientific American: Conflicts of Interest and Covid-19

Sunita Sah, KPMG Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, discusses conflict of interest and unconscious bias. “Financial incentives can…

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The Washington Post: Your guide to making big decisions right now

Sunita Sah, KPMG Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, comments on decision making in stressful situations. “If you’re feeling…

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Boston Globe: Brigham president had sold more Moderna stock before she resigned from biotech’s board

Sunita Sah, KPMG Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, comments on conflict of interest in the Brigham and Women's…

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Contact details

Sunita Sah
Cambridge Judge Business School
University of Cambridge
Trumpington Street
Cambridge CB2 1AG
UK

Tel: +44 (0)1223 339700

[email protected]

@ProfSunitaSah

View Sunita's LinkedIn profile

sunitasah.com