November 12, 2015 at 11:41 am

Graduate Student Dives Into Mysteries of Human Behavior

Jiuqing "Joe" Cheng

Jiuqing “Joe” Cheng

By Juliana Scheiderer ’16

Human behavior can be complex, confusing, and difficult to explain. But for sixth-year psychology Ph.D. student Jiuqing “Joe” Cheng this sense of mystery is why he chose to study human behavior in the first place.

“I’ve been studying psychology for 15 years,” he said. “I chose this area because I wanted to know how human beings think. I wanted to learn about behavior. It’s interesting, kind of mysterious stuff that I want to explore.”

Before attending Ohio University, Cheng received his master’s degree from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, after completing his undergraduate degree in China.

Consumer Choice and Decision Making

Cheng is now studying judgment and decision making. Along with his adviser, Dr. Claudia Gonzalez-Vallejo, he conducts studies on customer choice, food choice and gambling choice—all which involve certain trade-offs.

“My research is about how people feel conflict and uncertainty when they make different choices, because there are very few ‘perfect options,’” Cheng explained. “So you have to make a trade off, for example, when buying a consumer product, you have to make a trade off of price or quality.”

Cheng said people feel a variety of emotions when faced with difficult decisions.

“That’s what I want to study, the feelings people have when making these choices,” he said. “That’s what I want to investigate.”

Cheng also explained that his research can be applicable to a variety of fields. He specifically wants to take his findings and apply them by going to business school following graduation.

“A lot of business professors do research about decision making,” he said. “I think it has a huge market. You can apply research into industrial areas, like consumer products and food choice. It’s very applicable.”

After he’s completed his education, Cheng hopes to find a post-doc position where he can continue his research. After that, he wants to go into higher education.

“The ideal situation is that I’d be fortunate enough to get an assistant professor position,” he said. “I know it’s very challenging and competitive, but I’m going to try.”

Home at OHIO

Cheng already has a bit of teaching experience under his belt. He has been teaching statistics and research methods courses at OHIO for four years. However, Cheng added that language barriers make things more difficult.

“It’s always challenging because of the language barrier,” he explained. “The first day of teaching was especially hard, because I got really nervous and didn’t know how to express myself.”

Although this can be stressful, Cheng feels that OHIO is a great place for international students.

“I think the OHIO students and faculty are very friendly to international students,” he said.

Cheng also appreciates Athens as it differs from his home country.

“The environment is quite different than my hometown,” he said. “But I like the natural scenery here. Overall, it’s a great experience being here.”

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