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Dr. Cain's research focuses on "judgment and decision-making" and "behavioral business ethics." In other words, he studies the reasons why smart people do dumb things. Cain is a leading expert on conflicts of interest, especially the "perverse effects of disclosing conflicts of interest," and how to turn altruism on and off. Notably, Cain’s research has been discussed in the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Forbes, The New Yorker, the Washington Post, BusinessWeek, USA Today, the New York Times, and other top media outlets such as NPR. Cain has won national teaching awards and has also appeared as a commentator on National Geographic’s popular TV show, Brain Games.


  • Russell Sage Fellow, Harvard, 2007
  • PhD, Carnegie Mellon, 2007
  • MS, Carnegie Mellon, 2003
  • MA, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2002
  • MA, Dalhousie, 1997
  • BA, 1st Class Honors, Dalhousie, 1996

Selected Works


  • Advice vs. Choice
    J. Dana and D.M. Cain
    Current Opinions in Psychology
    Volume 6, pp 173-176

  • Giving vs. Giving-in
    D. M. Cain, J. D. Dana and G. E. Newman
    Academy of Management Annals



  • The Dirt on Coming Clean, "The Dirt on Coming Clean: Perverse Effects of Disclosing Conflicts of Interest" was recently named among the most relevant research studies on fiduciary reform (and presented to the SEC by the Committee for the Fiduciary Standard).
  • Master Teacher in Ethics Award, Society of Business Ethics and Wheatley Institution, 2012
  • Yale SOM Alumni Association Teaching Award, Yale School of Management Alumni Association, 2011
  • Paper of the Year, Society of Business Ethics (SBE), 2010