Ramadhar Singh

Distinguished University Professor, Amrut Mody School of Management, Ahmedabad University

Webpage:http://amsom.ahduni.edu.in/faculty/core-/ramadhar-singh/

 E-mail: singhr@ahduni.edu.in; https://vidwan.inflibnet.ac.in/profile/56256

R SinghRamadhar Singh is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the British Psychological Society (BPsS), the Society of Personality and Social Psychology (SPSS), the Singapore Psychological Society (SPsS), and the National Academy of Psychology (India) (NaoP). In 2009, Singh was voted by the alumni of trhe National University of Singapore (NUS) as an Inspiring Mentor. In December 2013, he was the only psychologist from India to be included in the APS website on Faces and Minds of Psychological Science. In January 2014, he received the Sir J C Bose Memorial Award from the Indian Science Monitor, Chennai. Since July 2014, he has also been a Consulting Editor of the Review of General Psychology, an APA journal. At the present, he is an Associate Editor of the Asian Journal of Social Psychology and the IIMB Management Review.  Singh received his BA Hons. (1965) and MA (1968) degrees in experimental psychology from the University of Bihar, Muzaffarpur, India, and MS (1972) and PhD (1973) in social psychology from Purdue University, USA. In India, Singh was a Lecturer at Patna University (1968-1973), an Assistant Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (1973-79), a Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (1979-88), and a Distinguished Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (2010-16). During 1988-2010 at the NUS, he was a Senior Teaching Fellow (1988-90), an Associate Professor of Psychology (1990-97), and a Professor of Psychology (1997-2010). In addition, he spent his sabbaticals at the University of Rochester (2003-04), the University of Oxford (2004), and Purdue University (2008). Since July 7, 2016, he has been a Distinguished University Professor at the Ahmedabad University, Ahmedabad, India.Singh has been conducting paradigmatic research in impression formation, interpersonal attraction, intergroup relations, judgment and decision making, leadership, and social-functionalist models of humans. His research articles have appeared in reputed journals of applied psychology, developmental psychology, and personality and social psychology. These research articles have been cited in journals of biology, economics, finance, law, management, marketing, organizational behavior, philosophy, physiology, political science, psychiatry, public policy, sociology, and social work in addition to his main discipline of psychology. Further, some of them have been cited in the textbooks of psychology, management, social psychology, and organizational behavior and in the handbooks of industrial and organizational psychology, justice, leadership, and social psychology.

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Q1) How did you get interested in the different areas of research that you have so successfully done and published in international journals?

For me, research is play rather than work. Thus, whenever I read a paper or come across a contemporary issue that seems open to alternative experimentation, analysis, and interpretation, I spontaneously pick it up and persist on it until I find a convincing answer. In some cases, I persisted for 7 to 15 years and performed a series of eight experiments to resolve the issue.

Throughout my academic life, I have always been enjoying the thrill of coming up with a new perspective on the existing knowledge in applied, developmental, personality and social psychology, and management. Further, I have always believed that the data from Asian settings can confirm, advance, or modify social knowledge considerably, and that research articles should be written for advancing the field instead of impressing the employer for promotion or monetary rewards.

I am grateful to American and European editors and reviewers of various journals who saw merit in what I have been doing from Asia over the years. I am equally grateful to the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur; the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad; the National University of Singapore; and the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore for providing me with facilities, grants, and dedicated students to pursue my deep interests in research.

Q2) If you are to choose two of your top findings from the myriad of research done, what would those be?

  1. Inferring missing information from the given information 

In the 1970s, there was considerable interest in how diverse pieces of given information are integrated into a single judgment. The goal was to diagnose the integration rule of adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, or averaging underlying the judgment rendered. At that time, decisions were assumed to be guided by just the given information. The most popular method of rule diagnosis was thus obtaining judgments from two pieces of information (i.e., A and B) as well as from one of them (i.e., either A or B). Responses taken from the single piece of information served as the base and frame for determining how the two pieces of given information were integrated into the judgment rendered.

My students and I reasoned differently: Information available for any judgment can hardly be complete in everyday life. People may know one attribute of a person, for example, generosity or motivation, and infer other attributes such as income or ability. To make a judgment about the person’s performance or donation, therefore, people may impute values to missing information from the given information. We did not want to disregard imputations about missing information only because they were unknown at that time.

Demonstrating the foregoing possibility kept us busy in experimental research from 1975 through 1991. We first demonstrated an averaging rule in prediction of performance from information about motivation and ability of students or employees, and the multiplying rule in prediction of gift size from information about generosity and income of the donors. Given our success in rule diagnosis from information presented about both the necessary causes, we then demonstrated that the missing motivation or generosity information was imputed a constant value (usually around the nominal neutral point or average) but the imputed value to the missing ability or income information increased with the increasing value of the given motivation or generosity information. That is, imputed capability (intelligence, income) values increase with the known value of effort or generosity but those of effort or generosity remain independent of the known value of ability or income. While motivation and ability were viewed as compensatory causes in achievement judgments (i.e., an averaging rule) and generosity and income were viewed as multiple necessary causes in moral judgments (i.e., a multiplying rule), the patterns of asymmetric imputations were rather uniform.

The foregoing contribution of the asymmetric inferences about missing information from the given information in decision making portrayed Indians as dynamic information processors, not “cognitive misers” that was the prevalent view in the United States. This contribution was featured in Robert Arkin (2011, Ed.), Most underappreciated: 50 prominent social psychologists describe their most unloved work. New York: Oxford University Press. In 2013, the Association of Psychological Science, Washington, DC also identified this very contribution for my inclusion from India in its website on Faces and Minds of Psychology.

  1. Attraction and repulsion processes

In everyday life, few experiences are more encompassing than getting accepted or rejected in schools, colleges, organizations, shops, and trips abroad. I have also been fascinated by why one’s attitudes, traits, and looks sometimes draw others to him or her but sometimes repel them from him or her. Four key findings from this research program are notable.

First, both similar and dissimilar attitudes influence interpersonal attraction. However, the dissimilarity-repulsion effect is much stronger than the similarity-attraction effect. Such default asymmetry in weighting occurs automatically while attending to dissimilar and similar attitudes. Given adequate cognitive resources, however, equal attention might be allocated to both similar and dissimilar attitudes.

Second, the effect of warm trait on our impressions of others is much smaller than that of cold trait, another asymmetry in inferences. Further, intellectual traits lead to inferences about intellect more than sociability of the target but social traits lead to inferences about sociability alone. Extreme, relative to moderate, social traits lead to greater attraction but not inferences about intellect or respect. In contrast, extreme, relative to moderate, intellectual traits lead to greater respect but smaller attraction. Apparently, an intellectual person poses threat to others, and thus the lovable fool is unsurprisingly preferred over the competent jerk, a phenomenon witnessed often in Indian organizations. The effect of the good versus bad social traits on attraction is mediated by trust in the benevolence of the target but that of the intellectual traits on attraction is mediated more by respect for than trust in the person. Clearly, people form impressions of others and approach or avoid them via latent degree of respect for and trust in them.

Third, similar attitudes determine attraction via latent processes of positive affect in perceivers, inferred attraction of the stranger toward perceivers, and respect for and trust in the stranger. Importantly, these mediators operate sequentially (i.e., the preceding process also contributes to the succeeding ones) rather than parallel (i.e., the processes operate independently of each other) as it was erroneously believed before my most recent studies.

Finally, physical attractiveness of opposite-sex persons always makes them valuable in task, social, and romantic settings. How is such beauty effect generated and transmitted? The underlying mechanism common to all these types of attraction is self-enhancement (i.e., experiencing oneself elevated temporarily in the company of an attractive partner). However, respect, trust, and positive affect (all of which sequentially transmit attitude similarity effects to attraction) are specific mechanisms underlying the task, social, and romantic attraction, respectively. This research not only illustrates the radiating effect of beauty but also indicates that people are skilled at extracting information that is of their immediate interests from the photograph available in the file or the website of an organization.

Q3) How do you see research in organizational behavior and psychological processes benefitting practices in global organizations with central offices in developing countries?

Nature of work and organization has been changing over the years. American or German companies nowadays operate from China or India; so do Chinese or Indian companies from North America or Europe. Physical organizations are being replaced by the virtual ones. The full-time or life-long employment practices of the 1970s and 1980s have been replaced by contractual appointments and/or outsourced jobs. A product or service requires cooperation between people of several nations, and companies have access to global talent and markets to maintain their competitiveness. Because of such changes in the nature of organizations, tasks, and human resource, our performance is nowadays monitored and appraised more by computers than supervisors.

Psychological and social issues arising from the foregoing changes have direct implications for management of global talent and organizations. Managers from one country can treat employees from another country as equals but manager from another country can treat them as subordinates. Employees themselves may be independent in one country but highly dependent in another country. My research in reward allocation, leadership effectiveness, prediction of performance, and responding to wrongdoing, for example, demonstrated that blindly applying the Western tools and models to Asian settings might lead to erroneous interpretations and practices. Thus, contemporary changes in global organizations actually make psychological inputs in managing people, products, and consumers more important now than ever before.

Q4) What are some of the contemporary key issues in management and psychological research?

The long-standing issue of rigor versus relevance is still valid in management and psychological research. Should research be theory-driven or problem-focused? Should the method be quantitative or qualitative? What is a good research: One that gets published in high impact journals of one’s field or the one that influences public policy and management? To me, any research that adds to the extant knowledge or influences the existing practices is valuable. Most important, the researcher must enjoy what he or she has been doing.

Q5) What would be your messages to the younger generations of management and social scientists in India?

I would like to see professionalism in management and psychology at the same level as they are in China, Japan, Korea, and Singapore. One’s doctoral training has a life-cycle of 6 to 8 years. Subsequent contributions depend upon how one engages oneself in skill upgrading and self-renewal through research projects, going on sabbaticals, supervising research projects by students, and encouraging them publish their findings in key journals. Thus, Indian social scientists must engage themselves in regular self-renewal activities and invest adequate time and effort in rigorous training of undergraduate to doctoral students.

I gladly report that I was fortunate and blessed to have Donn Byrne as my supervisor during 1970-73 and Duane T. Wegener as the sponsor of my 2008 sabbatical leave at Purdue University.

Younger management and psychology professionals nowadays have to do what is happening all over the globe and live up to global standards. For doing so, they have to be extra careful in choosing the institution, the supervisor and the committee members, and the topic of their research. If the supervisor has a research program, be part of it in extending or amending it. If he or she does not have a research program, consider developing a research program during your doctoral training and initiating it with your doctoral dissertation itself.

Peers at your graduate schools play important roles in what research you undertake and in your later professional development. Accordingly, I also advise maintaining regular contacts with peers and friends of the graduate school days and taking interests in how they have been developing in the field and the life.

(As sent to Sumitava Mukherjee, May 2015; Updated in July 2016)

17 comments

  1. Each word expressed by Dr Singh is so authentic. His thoughts on contemporary key issues in management and psychology and his message for our generation is thought provoking. I am blessed to have known him as a great academician, researcher and a compassionate person, met him and worked for a short while under his guidance.

  2. अज्ञानतिमिरान्धस्य ज्ञानाञ्जनशलाकया ।
    चक्षुरुन्मीलितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
    (Salutation to the noble Guru, who has opened the eyes blinded by darkness of ignorance with collyrium-stick of knowledge)
    I had the great opportunity of being supervised for my PhD research by Prof Singh. His passion for research and quest for knowledge is infectious. He is just not a great researcher but also a great motivator and a mentor.
    Prof Singh –my Guru, is an international star and a leader in various research topics of social psychology. Despite being super busy, churning out impressive number of research papers in top journals, he always had time for his students and I can say he is still an intellectual support for many of his ex-students.
    Best wishes, Smita

  3. I worked with Prof. Singh as a summer intern at IIM Bangalore during May and June, 2015. Despite my being a novice in the field of social psychology, Prof. Singh’s simplified approach towards a task made it easy for me to work with him. He was my guide for a project on the different opinions of people on court verdicts in India. Working with Prof. Singh was a great experience for me, and I feel grateful to have had the opportunity.

  4. Dr Ramadhar Singh is an inspiration for budding scholars and academicians. He demonstrates extremely high level of commitment and dedication for research and teaching. I have worked with him as a post-doctoral research associate and I continue to be amazed by the depth and range of his knowledge and skills. It is rare to see this level of intelligence, dogged determination, and meticulous attention to detail in a single individual. Dr Singh’s enthusiasm for work is infectious and he seems to derive a great deal of happiness from it. He is one of the prominent social psychologists of the world who has consistently made major contributions to the field.
    It is an absolute delight to be in his class where he merges scholarly work with everyday life examples in his teaching with such finesse and great humor. Dr Singh has proved that one can publish high-quality research for decades in top-tiered journals based in western countries while working in an Asian academic setting. Moreover, he espouses ideals of honesty, professionalism, and commitment in his life and inspires his students and protégés to think beyond themselves and work for improving the well-being of the nation. Dr Singh is a truly remarkable individual.

  5. When I think of Prof. Singh, the first word that comes to my mind is ‘curiosity’ and the second word that comes to my mind is ‘support’. He is highly curious, almost child like, eager to learn – which makes him motivated to research on theoretical problems. As a result, he extends our theoretical knowledge and fills the knowledge – which is apparent from his interview. His research on inferring missing information from the given information is very interesting. He is also ‘child-like’ in providing support, unconditional and appearing out of nowhere when one is least expecting and then dismissing the gratitude with an innocent and radiating smile. Interacting with him affirms the faith in the fairness of life.

  6. I am fortunate to know Prof. Ramadhar Singh for more than two decades. I feel that he is a Yogi when it comes to research. Research is a way of life for him. Research is Saadhna for him. Research is like playing music for him and laptop is his Sitar. Needless to say that he is a maestro of art of science. He is a classical artist of science! He has played with his Sitar since his childhood and we wish him many more years of raagas, saadhna and Yoga!

  7. It has been more than a decade since I have been interacting with Prof. Singh. Prof. Singh’s original and creative thinking has been inspirational for many of us. When it comes to research, it is not easy to find someone else like Prof. Singh.

  8. According to a renowned Economist, George Stigler, a ‘teacher’ is the one who is to acquire knowledge and construct ideas and keep them a secret. It is improbable scientifically to ask an individual to be competent in understanding a work in which he has no part in constructing. Applying this definition, one can safely infer that Professor Ramadhar Singh is truly a ‘teacher’. To him, successful teaching is a joint product arising out of research because these two are inseparable. I am fortunate enough to be associated with him in an enterprising project on Research Productivity of Management Schools in India. I will never ever forget that learning that I have gained during our association in this joint project.

  9. Prof Ramadhar Singh is a true acdemician and an inspirational teacher. He has left behind his legacy in Singapore in the field of psychology and management.

  10. Professor Ramadhar Singh is true Maharishi who considers research as play and natural to the human self. He invigorated me to totally change my perspective of learning and using SEM. He taught me not just psychologically but a way of learning. He traced SEM through generations of changes that happed in psychology and his original thinking process made a profound influence on me. I changed my way of teaching economics. Pranams to a guru who is passionate about students.

  11. No knowledge can be gained without a proper teacher.I could realize this only when I became associated with Professor Ramadhar Singh at Indian Institute of Technology , Kanpur in 1978 as a Ph.D. student.
    Working with such an eminent psychologist and a keen researcher, it was a wonderful experience for me. As a teacher, he has originality in thinking, positivity in approach ,politeness in behaviour and excellence in writing. In his simple and impressive writing, he has a capacity to fill an ocean into a pitcher.
    He was always a great motivator and supporter for me. His encouraging attitude .towards his students has always motivated them to go ahead in right direction. My husband Dr. Rakesh K. Srivastava, an Associate Professor of Psychology also had an opportunity to work with him in a project. He also visited him at Singapore. Prof. Singh himself is an ocean of knowledge and I am fortunate to get a few drops from it. It’s really a matter of great pride and pleasure for me that he has been considered as one of the CognoBytes few top thinkers. May God bless him with lots of achievements in future also.
    Sneh Shobha, Ph.D.

  12. It’s my great previlege to work with Professor Ramadhar Singh in a research project at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in 1978-79.During this period, I had got a. golden opportunity to learn so many essential things needed for a research. His outstanding work on interpersonal attraction, information integration and related areas has given Social Psychology a special status. I feel proud that he has been considered as one of the few top thinkers by CognoBytes. My heartiest congratulations to Professor Singh on this great achievement. I also thanks CognoBytes for featuring Professor Singh with few top thinkers on mind, brain and behaviour.
    Rakesh K. Srivastava, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor (Psychology )
    Sectional Recorder ( Anthropological & Behavioral Sciences )
    Indian Science Congress Association

  13. As a young psychologist, I have got opportunity of listening him a number of times, mostly at NAoP annual meetings. He always motivates youngers with his professional attitude, there are alot to learn from him. Whenever He came to Patna, He tried to get time to visit Centre for Psychological Sciences. I am thankful to him for having a keen interest in the development at the Centre for Psychological Sciences, Central University Bihar at his home state. Thanks Sir.

  14. Working under Prof Singh for two research projects during my university days was an important experience which greatly enlightened me and piqued my interest in academic research. He is passionate, immensely knowledgeable (exciting and scary at times to a relatively fresh undergraduate), but also extremely nurturing as a mentor. I learned so much from Prof Singh on what it takes to undertake academic research and how to do it well. His commitment to his work and patience as a mentor left a lasting impression on me. Even today, I am very thankful for the opportunity to have Prof Singh as my mentor. Thank you sir 🙂

  15. Dear Everyone:

    Thanks for your kind words. I did what Donn Byrne had done to me during 1970-73 at Purdue and throughout his life. I practise what I preach.

    With love and affection,
    Ramadhar Singh

  16. I really respect Prof Singh a lot. As an undergrad in his class, we felt that he was a walking PsychINFO. During my grad years, he once told me he would never stop doing science because he simply loved his job.

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