IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


VIRTUAL EVENT: Behavioural insights and parental decision-making

19 May 2021, 3:00 pm–4:00 pm

Father carrying child on his back outside. Image: Gustavo Fring via Pexels

In this webinar, Ariel Kalil discusses findings from field experiments using behavioural insights to promote parental engagement.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Jenny Chanfreau

Economic advantage is correlated across generations. Although a variety of factors play a role in the correlation in outcomes of adults and their parents, evidence suggests that parental decision-making is crucial. 

Across domains people systematically make decisions that are, by their own evaluation, suboptimal due to cognitive biases. Parental decision-making is also subject to cognitive biases. 

Ariel Kalil argues that parents want the same things as advantaged parents, expect similar returns from the time they spend with children, and have the time and resources to make similar investments in the things young children need, but are less likely to actually do those things. This results in a wider gap between what parents aspire to do and what they actually do among disadvantaged parents than among advantaged parents. 

In this webinar, Ariel will explore a paper which proposes that applying behavioral science to the study of parenting can yield new insights into how parents make decisions to spend time, money, attention, and affection. 

She will discuss how this can promote their children’s development, and why these decisions are likely to differ by parental advantage. 

Ariel will also explore how behavioural tools can help narrow the gap between aspirational and actual parenting. She argues that if this gap narrows, so will the outcomes of children from advantaged and disadvantaged families, which can increase intergenerational mobility.

QSS seminar series

In this weekly Quantitative Social Science (QSS) seminar series, speakers present research that falls under the broad umbrella of quantitative social science.


Image: Gustavo Fring via Pexels

About the Speaker

Ariel Kalil

Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy

Ariel directs the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy and co-directs the Behavioral Insights and Parenting Lab at the University of Chicago.

She is a developmental psychologist and her current research examines the historical evolution of income-based gaps in parenting behavior and children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills.

She is leading a variety of field experiments at the Behavioral Insights and Parenting Lab designed to strengthen parental engagement and child development in low-income families using tools drawn from behavioral economics and neuroscience.

Other events in this series