Ovul Sezer’s research focuses on Impression (Mis)Management—the mistakes we make when we want to impress others. We all think we know how to make a positive impression, and we can easily spot the mistakes others make, but when it comes to our own missteps, we tend to be blithely oblivious. She identifies these mistakes and investigates how we can better navigate our social world. How can we signal that we are both competent and likeable? How can we brag wisely? How can we give valuable feedback in a way that strengthens our relationships rather than harming them? How can we network less awkwardly? These mistakes have important downstream consequences. Every important decision and relationship in organizations is influenced by whether managers, leaders, or team members have said the right thing or failed to do so. Impression management can make or break relationships, motivate or discourage team members, and make individuals feel included or not seen. In her work, she explores common impression-management strategies individuals use when attempting to convey a desired image, how individuals’ misguided strategies influence workplace outcomes, including inclusion, promotion decisions, team dynamics, motivation, and task performance; and when and why different strategies succeed or fail.
Her work has been published in top academic journals such as Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes and has been featured in media outlets such as TIME, New York Times, and Harvard Business Review. She also earned Poet’s & Quants Top 40 under 40 Business School MBA Professor Award.
During the day she is an Assistant Professor, teaching Negotiations. Late at night, she performs stand-up comedy in comedy clubs. She applies the same observational tools to both jobs and either studies human nature in-depth using experiments or describe it with humor. She holds A.B in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Harvard University.