Gus Cooney.

get to know
more about me

Gus Cooney is a social psychologist who studies conversation and social interaction. He received his Ph.D. at Harvard University and currently teaches Negotiations at the Wharton School.

Who am I

Gus is currently a Senior Lecturer at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He was born and raised in South Boston, received Ph.D. from Harvard, now lives in Philadelphia, but dreams of living somewhere he can surf everyday.

Gus is interested in questions such as: Do we overestimate our ability to communicate novel information? Do we underestimate how much our conversation partners like us? What makes group conversations so challenging? Why don’t we talk to strangers? Do conversations end when people want them to (Hint: no)? What stops us from having conversations with a more diverse set of colleagues at work? Gus is grateful that his job is to ask questions, and in fact, the only thing he likes as much as a good question is a good Moroccan rug.

Gus has been the recipient of many awards, including a full-tuition Cardinal Medeiros Scholarship at Boston University, the prestigious dissertation award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, and numerous teaching awards for his #1 ranked negotiations course at Wharton – although he routinely loses high stakes negotiations to his 2 year old daughter.

Gus has consulted for a variety of companies, including Broad Green Pictures, where he developed a concept testing platform that reliably predicted opening weekend box office, and BetterUp where his research on conversational dynamics is helping employees have more meaningful and productive conversation at work. Gus’s skiing ability has inspired exactly zero consulting opportunities, but he is nonetheless intrinsically motivated to seek out fresh powder.

Gus’s research and writing have been published in distinguished academic outlets, including Psychological Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science Advances, Annual Review of Psychology, and the Handbook of Social Psychology, 6th Edition – and has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, NPR, BBC, Time, The Atlantic, and Harvard Business Review. His research has also gone viral on TikTok.

For media requests, science outreach, research collaborations, corporate consulting, and speaking opportunities, please get in touch.

Get a
glimpse of
my hobbies

Here are some things that bring excitement and fulfillment to my everyday life.

Interests & hobbies

Embarking on adventures through skiing, immersing myself in diverse cultures through rugs and textiles, and finding serenity in the art of surfing – these are the passion that shape my life.

gus cooney

3730 Walnut Street Jon M. Huntsman Hall Philadelphia, PA 19104


2019 - Present

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

  • Senior Instructor
  • Operations, Information and Decision Department

2017 - 2019

Harvard University

  • Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Department of Psychology



Harvard University

  • Ph.D. Psychology


Boston University

  • B.A. Philosopohy


Research interests

  • Conversation / social interaction
  • Judgement and Decision Making
  • Interpersonal perception 

Teaching interests

  • Negotiations
  • Persuasion and Influence
  • Communication

Research Consulting

2018 - Present

research consultant, betterup, san francisco, cA

2014 - 2017

Director of research, broad Green Pictures, Los angeles, cA

Selected Honors & Awards

2019 - Present

The Wharton Teaching Excellence Award, University of Pennsylvania


Fellow of the Society, the Society of Experimental Social Psychology


Dissertation Award, the Society of Experimental Social Psychology


Derek C. Bok Award for Excellence in Teaching, Harvard University

2011 - 2013

Graduate research fellowship, harvard university


Graduate research fellowship, harvard university

2003 - 2007

Cardinal Medeiros Scholar (Full Tuition Scholarship), Boston University.