Sheena S. Iyengar, inaugural S.T. Lee Professor of Business School, joined Edie Berg on her Strong Women’s Club Podcast last week to discuss the implications of her research. Iyengar shares her perspective on how people present themselves to others, choose the people in their circles, the psychology of authenticity, and the 2016 U.S. presidential election. These topics represent a synthesis of the overall research conducted by Iyengar, who argues that modernity is a “special era in which we can actually choose everything about who we are – more than any other time of history.” For instance, we have the ability to choose our physical attributes, the people to whom we connect ourselves, and the ideas we choose to express in ways that are unprecedented. As such, Iyengar is interested in how “people come to make the choice about who will comprise their social circle. Do we make those choices or do we allow structure to make them? Are your best friends the people randomly assigned to your freshman dorm, or do we deviate from that structure?”

She summarized her research to Berg as follows:

“I think all roads lead to choice in one way or another. I am, in the end, interested in asking the question ‘how do we help empower people so that they can be more productive?’

I would say that if there are three themes that cut across all the work I do, it would be: 1) the power of choice, taking into consideration the potential pitfalls associated with that, 2) the power of connection, taking into consideration the sort of nuances behind that, and 3) the power of creativity.”

Listen to the whole podcast here.