Siyuan Yin

Siyuan Yin
  • Doctoral Student

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    727.9 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    3730 Walnut Street
    University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, PA 19104


Siyuan Yin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Wharton Marketing Doctoral Program. She received a BS in Psychology and an MD from Zhejiang University. She received an MS in Psychology from Vanderbilt University. Prior to the program, Siyuan served as a research associate at the Fuqua Business School at Duke University.

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  • Siyuan Yin and Marissa A. Sharif (2024), How and When Does a Used (vs. Unused) Account Affect Consumption Behavior?, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 153 (4), pp. 939-956.

    Abstract: How does spending from a used (vs. unused) account affect consumption behavior? An account is used when some resources of that account have been used (e.g., $90 has been used on a gift card that originally had $100). An account is unused when no resources of that account have been used (e.g., no money has been used on a gift card that has $10). Across seven studies (N = 8,667), we find that people are more likely to spend resources from a used account than otherwise equivalent resources from an unused account. This is because people engage in within-account comparisons, comparing the remaining resources in the account with what the account originally had, leading them to value the remaining resources less in a used account. We demonstrate the robustness of the effect of a used (vs. unused) account across several domains, including gift cards, checking accounts, and credit card reward points. Further, we demonstrate a boundary condition of the effect, revealing that the proportion of the account remaining moderates the subsequent consumption. Lastly, we generalize this effect from consumption to charitable giving. The findings provide insights into how policymakers, companies, and individuals may consider leveraging the perception of an account being used or unused to curb expenses and encourage charitable giving.

  • Barbara Mellers and Siyuan Yin (2023), Reference-Point Theory: An Account of Individual Differences in Risk Preferences, Perspectives on Psychological Science.

    Abstract: We propose an account of individual differences in risk preferences called “reference-point theory” for choices between sure things and gambles. Like most descriptive theories of risky choice, preferences depend on two drivers—hedonic sensitivities to change and beliefs about risk. But unlike most theories, these drivers are estimated from judged feelings about choice options and gamble outcomes. Furthermore, the reference point is assumed to be the less risky option (i.e., sure thing). Loss aversion (greater impact of negative change than positive change) and pessimism (belief the worst outcome is likelier) predict risk aversion. Gain seeking (greater impact of positive change than negative change and optimism (belief the best outcome is likelier) predict risk seeking. But other combinations of hedonic sensitivities and beliefs are possible, and they also predict risk preferences. Finally, feelings about the reference point predict hedonic sensitivities. When decision makers feel good about the reference point, they are frequently loss averse. When they feel bad about it, they are often gain seeking. Three studies show that feelings about reference points, feelings about options and feelings about outcomes predict risky choice and help explain why individuals differ in their risk preferences.

  • Kevin O'Neill, Audrey Liu, Siyuan Yin, Timothy Brady (2021), Effects of Category Learning Strategies on Recognition Memory, Memory & Cognition, 50 (), pp. 512-526.

  • Kelsey McDonald, Rose Graves, Siyuan Yin, Tara Weese, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (2021), Valence Framing Effects on Moral Judgments: A Meta-Analysis, Cognition, 212 ().

    Abstract: Valence framing effects occur when participants make different choices or judgments depending on whether the options are described in terms of their positive outcomes (e.g. lives saved) or their negative outcomes (e.g. lives lost). When such framing effects occur in the domain of moral judgments, they have been taken to cast doubt on the reliability of moral judgments and raise questions about the extent to which these moral judgments are self-evident or justified in themselves. One important factor in this debate is the magnitude and variability of the extent to which differences in framing presentation impact moral judgments. Although moral framing effects have been studied by psychologists, the overall strength of these effects pooled across published studies is not yet known. Here we conducted a meta-analysis of 109 published articles (contributing a total of 146 unique experiments with 49,564 participants) involving valence framing effects on moral judgments and found a moderate effect (d = 0.50) among between-subjects designs as well as several moderator variables. While we find evidence for publication bias, statistically accounting for publication bias attenuates, but does not eliminate, this effect (d = 0.22). This suggests that the magnitude of valence framing effects on moral decisions is small, yet significant when accounting for publication bias.

  • Siyuan Yin, H. Arkes, John McCoy, Morris A. Cohen, Barbara Mellers (2021), Conflicting Goals Influence Physicians’ Expressed Beliefs to Patients and Colleagues, Medical Decision Making, 41 (5), pp. 505-514.

    Abstract: Background Physicians who communicate their prognostic beliefs to patients must balance candor against other competing goals, such as preserving hope, acknowledging the uncertainty of medicine, or motivating patients to follow their treatment regimes. Objective To explore possible differences between the beliefs physicians report as their own and those they express to patients and colleagues. Design An online panel of 398 specialists in internal medicine who completed their medical degrees and practiced in the United States provided their estimated diagnostic accuracy and prognostic assessments for a randomly assigned case. In addition, they reported the diagnostic and prognostic assessments they would report to patients and colleagues more generally. Physicians answered questions about how and why their own beliefs differed from their expressed beliefs to patients and colleagues in the specific case and more generally in their practice. Results When discussing beliefs about prognoses to patients and colleagues, most physicians expressed beliefs that differed from their own beliefs. Physicians were more likely to express greater optimism when talking to patients about poor prognoses than good prognoses. Physicians were also more likely to express greater uncertainty to patients when prognoses were poor than when they were good. The most common reasons for the differences between physicians’ own beliefs and their expressed beliefs were preserving hope and acknowledging the inherent uncertainty of medicine. Conclusion To balance candor against other communicative goals, physicians tended to express beliefs that were more optimistic and contained greater uncertainty than the beliefs they said were their own, especially in discussions with patients whose prognoses were poor.

  • Barbara Mellers, Siyuan Yin, Jonathan Z. Berman (2021), Reconciling Loss Aversion and Gain Seeking in Judged Emotions, Current Directions in Psychological Science, 30 (2), pp. 95-102.

    Abstract: Is the pain of a loss greater in magnitude than the pleasure of a comparable gain? Studies that compare positive feelings about a gain with negative feelings about a comparable loss have found mixed answers to this question. The pain of a loss can be greater than, less than, or equal to the pleasure of a comparable gain. We offer a new approach to test hedonic loss aversion. This method uses emotional reactions to the reference point, a positive change, and a negative change. When we manipulated the reference point (i.e., pleasurable and painful), two distinct patterns emerged. Pain surpassed pleasure (loss aversion) when the reference point was positive, and pleasure exceeded pain (gain seeking) when the reference point was negative. A reference-dependent version of prospect theory accounts for the results. If the carriers of utility are changes from a reference point—not necessarily the status quo—both loss aversion and gain seeking are predicted. Loss aversion and gain seeking can be reconciled if you take the starting point into account.

  • Kelsey McDonald, Siyuan Yin, Tara Weese, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (2019), Do framing effects debunk moral beliefs?, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, e162 ().

  • Matthew L. Stanley, Siyuan Yin, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (2019), A Reason-Based Explanation for Moral Dumbfounding, Judgement and Decision Making , 14 (2), pp. 120-129.

    Abstract: The moral dumbfounding phenomenon for harmless taboo violations is often cited as a critical piece of empirical evidence motivating anti-rationalist models of moral judgment and decision-making. Moral dumbfounding purportedly occurs when an individual remains obstinately and steadfastly committed to a moral judgment or decision even after admitting inability to provide reasons and arguments to support it (Haidt, 2001). Early empirical support for the moral dumbfounding phenomenon led some philosophers and psychologists to suggest that affective reactions and intuitions, in contrast with reasons or reasoning, are the predominant drivers of moral judgments and decisions. We investigate an alternative reason-based explanation for moral dumbfounding: that putatively harmless taboo violations are judged to be morally wrong because of the high perceived likelihood that the agents could have caused harm, even though they did not cause harm in actuality. Our results indicate that judgments about the likelihood of causing harm consistently and strongly predicted moral wrongness judgments. Critically, a manipulation drawing attention to harms that could have occurred (but did not actually occur) systematically increased the severity of moral wrongness judgments. Thus, many participants were sensitive to at least one reason — the likelihood of harm — in making their moral judgments about these kinds of taboo violations. We discuss the implications of these findings for rationalist and anti-rationalist models of moral judgment and decision-making.


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  • MKTG1010 - Intro To Marketing

    The objective of this course is to introduce students to the concepts, analyses, and activities that comprise marketing management, and to provide practice in assessing and solving marketing problems. The course is also a foundation for advanced electives in Marketing as well as other business/social disciplines. Topics include marketing strategy, customer behavior, segmentation, customer lifetime value, branding, market research, product lifecycle strategies, pricing, go-to-market strategies, promotion, and marketing ethics.


Latest Research

Siyuan Yin and Marissa A. Sharif (2024), How and When Does a Used (vs. Unused) Account Affect Consumption Behavior?, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 153 (4), pp. 939-956.
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