20: Gent Silberkleit



Program and Year of Study

PhD, Social Psychology, 3rd year

Previous degrees and colleges

BA Psychology, UCLA

Where did you grow up?

Sonoma, CA

Where do you live now?

Too close to Davis High School. (Did you know high school students must honk every time they enter and exit the parking lot?)

What's your favorite spot in Davis?

I used to really love the Simpsons pinball machine in the basement of the MU. But they took it away.

How do you relax?

I read the shorter journal articles on my reading list. I also started learning guitar, which I’ve come to really enjoy. 

What was the last book you read for pleasure?

I just reread The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book). It’s one of the only books that makes me laugh out loud. 

What was the last film you saw at the theater?

It might have been Star Wars? Probably Star Wars.

Research interests

I study legal social psychology. Specifically, I research jury decision-making and the extralegal factors that may influence or predict jurors’ decisions (e.g. stereotypes, biases, juror characteristics). I also research litigant decision-making during dispute resolution procedures and have published work on children’s eyewitness memory and lie detection.

Dissertation title or topic

TBD, but it may have to do, in part, with predicting juror decision-making.

Please share a surprising or noteworthy fact or finding from your research

If I ask you about an event and you lie to me, I probably can’t tell. But if I suddenly make you tell me about an event in reverse-chronological order, I have a much better chance of noticing your “tells.” It turns out that increasing cognitive load by making people recite an alibi backwards may make them less able to convincingly lie.

Which professor or class inspired you to pursue graduate studies?

Psychology & Law with Professor R. Edward Geiselman 

Which scholarly text do you wish you had written? Why?

The Nature of Prejudice by Gordon Allport. While I haven’t read it in its entirety, Allport covered so much in this seminal book, and many of his insights hold up today. 

Which other researchers at UC Davis are doing work that particularly interests you?

I respect Professor of Law Donna Shestowsky’s work on procedural justice, which is highly relevant for improving our legal system. I’m also a fan of Olivia Atherton’s work using sophisticated longitudinal modeling to identify predictors of behavior and health outcomes.

What’s the best thing about being a grad student?

It was the pinball machine below the MU… However, I do really value the access I have to some of the world’s top psychology experts. Bouncing ideas off of different professors in private meetings, when not terrifying, has been really rewarding, and I appreciate those opportunities very much.

What's the worst?

The stress/anxiety/pressure.

If you weren't a grad student, what would you be doing?

I almost went to law school at one point, so I might have become an attorney.

Finally, please ask yourself a question

What is your favorite day trip away from Davis?

Gold panning on the American River has been one of my favorites so far.


—June 2017


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