Elizabeth Tenney

Assistant Professor, David Eccles Emerging Scholar

Department of Management

Faculty, Tenure Track

Elizabeth R. Tenney is an Assistant Professor in the Management Department at the University of Utah’s Eccles School of Business.

Tenney studies overconfidence and other biases that influence people’s social interactions and decisions. She is interested in the factors that affect individual and organizational performance.

Prior to joining the University of Utah, Tenney was a Postdoctoral Scholar at UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business. She received a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Virginia.

Areas of Expertise
Decision Making
Organizational Behavior
Person Perception

Toggle All Sections


BA Psychology, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
MA Social Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
PhD Social Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Postdoctoral Scholar, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

Research Summary

Humans evaluate each other unremittingly. Being able to determine friend from foe, at the most basic level, and to determine people’s abilities at a more fine-tuned level is crucial to successful navigation of the social and business worlds. But we need help. We cannot know people’s inner thoughts, so in both formal and casual settings, to facilitate our assessments, we ask for self-reports. “How sure are you?” “What are your strengths?” and “How well do you remember what happened?” are common pleas for self-disclosure made in critical social contexts to colleagues, job applicants, and eyewitnesses, respectively. How well people know themselves and the way they present information about themselves and what they know to evaluators can determine some of life’s most important outcomes.

I study credibility with a focus on how people evaluate each other and exchange information in an uncertain world. Pursuing a deeper understanding of these social judgments has led me to cut across area boundaries and to approach questions about person perception from multiple angles. I am particularly interested in the social consequences of overconfidence—possessing or conveying more confidence than reality warrants—as it relates to organizational behavior, judgment and decision making, and social cognition; and I have investigated the effects of overconfidence (and its counterpart, self-knowledge), in different populations (e.g., children and military recruits) and contexts (e.g., business and legal situations, hiring scenarios, and daily life). The assemblage of these perspectives manifests itself in two lines of my ongoing research: 1. exploring the benefits and the hazards of overconfidence for credibility, and 2. understanding social interactions and judgments of liking. Both have implications for how people work together and decide whom or what to believe.

Teaching Experience

Managerial Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
Seminar on Research in Org Beh


Moore, D. A., Swift, S. A., Minster, A., Mellers, B., Ungar, L., Tetlock, P., Yang, H. H. J., & Tenney, E. R. (in press). Confidence calibration in a multi-year geopolitical forecasting competition. Management Science.

Moore, D. A., Tenney, E. R., & Haran, U. (2016). Overprecision in judgment. In G. Keren and G. Wu (Eds.), Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Judgment and Decision Making (pp. 182-209). Wiley Blackwell.

Tenney, E. R., Logg, J. M., & Moore, D. A. (2015). (Too) optimistic about optimism: The belief that optimism improves performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108, 377-399.

Gilbert, E. A., Tenney, E. R., Holland, C. R., & Spellman, B. A. (2015). Counterfactuals, control, and causation: Why knowledgeable people get blamed more. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 643-658.

Tenney, E. R., Vazire, S., & Mehl, M. R. (2013). This examined life: The upside of self-knowledge for interpersonal relationships. PLoS ONE, 8, e69605.

Moore, D. A., & Tenney, E. R. (2012). Cheaper and better: Why scientific advancement demands the move to open access publishing. Psychological Inquiry, 23, 285-286.

Moore, D. A., & Tenney, E. R. (2012). Time pressure, performance, and productivity. In M. A. Neale, & E. A. Mannix (Eds.), Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Review of Group and Team-Based Research (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, 15, pp. 305-326). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Lun, J., Oishi, S., & Tenney, E. R. (2012). Residential mobility moderates preferences for egalitarian versus loyal helpers. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 291-297.

Tenney, E. R., & Spellman, B. A. (2011). Complex social consequences of self-knowledge. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2, 343-350.

Tenney, E. R., Small, J. E., Kondrad, R. L., Jaswal, V. K., & Spellman, B. A. (2011). Accuracy, confidence, and calibration: How young children and adults assess credibility. Developmental Psychology, 47, 1065-1077.

Spellman, B. A., & Tenney, E. R. (2010). Credible testimony in and out of court. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 168-173.

Spellman, B. A., Tenney, E. R., & Scalia, M. J. (2010). Relying on other people’s metamemory. In A. S. Benjamin (Ed.), Successful remembering and successful forgetting: A festschrift in honor of Robert A. Bjork (pp. 387-407). London: Psychology Press.

Nosek, B. A., Graham, J., Lindner, N. M., Kesebir, S., Hawkins, C. B., Hahn, C., Schmidt, K., Motyl, M., Joy-Gaba, J., Frazier, R., & Tenney, E. R. (2010). Cumulative and career-stage citation impact of social-personality programs and their members. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 1283-1300.

Tenney, E. R., Turkheimer, E., & Oltmanns, T. F. (2009). Being liked is more than having a good personality: The role of matching. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 579-585.

Tenney, E. R., Cleary, H. M. D., & Spellman, B. A. (2009). Unpacking the doubt in “Beyond a reasonable doubt:” Plausible alternative stories increase not guilty verdicts. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 31, 1-8.

Tenney, E. R., Clearly, H. M. D., & Spellman, B. A. (2009). “This other dude did it!”: A test of the alternative explanation defense. The Jury Expert, 21, 37-42. (invited target article, with commentaries and reply).

Tenney, E. R., Spellman, B. A., & MacCoun, R. J. (2008). The benefits of knowing what you know (and what you don’t): How calibration affects credibility. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1368-1375.

Tenney, E. R., MacCoun, R. J., Spellman, B. A., & Hastie, R. (2007). Calibration trumps confidence as a basis for witness credibility. Psychological Science, 18, 46-50.

Awards and Honors

David Eccles Emerging Scholar. Eccles School of Business, University of Utah, 2015

   Club 6, Faculty Honor Roll for Teaching Excellence. Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, 2012

   Award for Excellence in Scholarship in the Humanities & Social Sciences. University of Virginia, 2011

   Dissertation Research Award. American Psychological Association, 2010

   Maury Pathfinder Award for Best Master’s Thesis in Psychology. University of Virginia, 2009