Elizabeth Tenney

Associate Professor, David Eccles Emerging Scholar

Department of Management

Faculty, Tenure Track

Elizabeth R. Tenney is an associate professor in the Management Department at the David Eccles School of Business at The University of Utah. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Virginia and was a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley Haas 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.

Areas of Expertise
Decision Making
Employee Voice & Silence
Organizational Behavior
Person Perception

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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. 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., various 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. increasing the influence of those whose expertise is underutilized. Both have implications for how people work together and decide whom or what to believe.

Teaching Experience

Human Behavior in Organizations
Managing and Leading in Organizations
Managerial Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
Seminar on Research in Organizational Behavior


*Bain, K., *Kreps, T. A., *Meikle, N. L., & *Tenney, E. R. (In press). Amplifying voice in organizations. Academy of Management Journal. (*author order is alphabetical; all contributed equally).

Tenney, E. R., Costa, E., Allard, A., & Vazire, S. (2021). Open science and reform practices in organizational behavior research over time (2011 to 2019). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 162, 218-223.

Cheng, J. T., Anderson, C., Tenney, E. R., Brion, S., Moore, D. A., & Logg, J. M. (2021). The social transmission of overconfidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 150, 157–186.

Tenney, E. R., Meikle, N. L., Hunsaker, D., Moore, D. A., & Anderson, C. (2019). Is overconfidence a social liability? The effect of verbal versus nonverbal expressions of confidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 116, 396-415.

Moore, D. A., Swift, S. A., Minster, A., Mellers, B., Ungar, L., Tetlock, P., Yang, H. H. J., & Tenney, E. R. (2017). Confidence calibration in a multi-year geopolitical forecasting competition. Management Science, 63, 3552-3565.

Tenney, E. R., Poole, J. M., & Diener, E. (2016). Does positivity enhance work performance? Why, when, and what we don’t know. Research in Organizational Behavior, 36, 27-46.

Meikle, N. L., Tenney, E. R., & Moore, D. A. (2016). Overconfidence at work: Does overconfidence survive the checks and balances of organizational life? Research in Organizational Behavior, 36, 121-134.

Moore, D. A., Tenney, E. R., & Haran, U. (2016). Overprecision in judgment. In G. Keren and G. Wu (Eds.), 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.

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.

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.

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., 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

Doctoral Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. David Eccles School of Business, 2021
Outstanding Practical Implications for Management Paper Award. Academy of Management, 2020
Daniels Fund Leadership in Ethics Education Award. David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah, 2020
David Eccles Award for Scholarship. David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah, 2017
Rising Star Designation. In recognition of innovative work that has already advanced the field, signaling great potential for continued contributions. Association for Psychological Science, 2016
David Eccles Emerging Scholar. David 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