Who We Are

Meet our Alumni

Merve Akbas

Merve grew up in Istanbul where she received her BA and MA in Economics. She crossed the ocean and came to Duke in 2008 to pursue her PhD in Economics. In 2011, she met Dan and joined the lab.

Merve’s research interests span a broad area, tackling questions such as: How do beliefs about society influence support for social programs such as unemployment benefits? When are people more likely to cheat and why? Do religious rituals really have an effect on morality?

Currently she explores what drives motivation, particularly effects of monetary and nonmonetary rewards on motivation for long term tasks such as losing weight and saving for retirement. She uses lab experiments, online experiments, as well as large field experiments to collect data. She is passionate about applying insights from research into real world products and programs to help people turn their intentions (e.g. pay debt) into actions (cut spending).