“Harley was an immensely formative experience.”–Daniel Effron ’01
Daniel joined Harley Middle School in Grade 8; he is a graduate of Yale University, was granted his Master’s and Ph.D. from Stanford University, and is now a professor at the London Business School. He says Harley was a great influence on his academic decisions. “Harley taught me a love of learning and an intellectualism that I hadn’t yet experienced in other schools.”
At Harley, it was okay to be late to class, as long as you were late due to an intellectual curiosity. For example, he was once late to Edna Deutsch’s math class because he was caught up in a conversation with James Aldrich-Moodie (JAM) about a poem he’d read, or another time, he and a friend got caught up analyzing the latest REM song with Alex De Santis. He says behavior like this was almost encouraged at Harley, because being curious and wanting to learn more is part of the school’s ethos.
When he was looking at colleges, he had initially planned to double major in physics and theater and this was directly influenced by teachers, Richard Thorley, JAM, and David Schickler. In physics, under Richard Thorley’s direction, he and his classmates were constantly “fostering curiosity about how the world works.” He says JAM, who taught him both English and calculus at Harley, is a renaissance man and “modeled a curiosity for everything, was fascinated by everything.” Daniel’s interest in theater was because David Schickler taught him how to “think like other people think” to make a theatrical part convincing. When he eventually chose a major at Yale, he took a little bit of his interest from both theater and physics, and settled on psychology. He credits the incredible John Dolan and his teachings in AP Psychology as another influence.
Daniel also loved the small size of Harley and the extracurricular opportunities made available to the students. He says, “You could get involved in things that you might not initially be good at, but are curious about.” Daniel was a member of the tennis team and says in a big school, he wouldn’t have made the team, but Harley’s attitude of taking a chance and letting students give new things a try allowed him to do just that—and enjoy a more well-rounded high school experience.
At the London Business School, Daniel is a psychological scientist. He takes that curiosity in life, he admires so much in JAM and other Harley faculty, and explores. He says in his research, he studies phenomena that puzzle him and tries to figure them out, write about what he learns, and tell people about it. He says the Dean of the London Business School says their job is to engage in “curious wandering at the frontier of knowledge.” He says not all of his work feels quite like that, but he enjoys the attitude of “Just give it go!” when he comes upon something interesting. He once did a study about cheating in a coin toss with the question, “How do people behave when they face a finite series of opportunities to cheat with little or no risk of detection?” and he learned after doing a variety of experiments, analyzing over 25,000 cheating opportunities faced by over 2,500 people, that people are three times more likely to cheat at the last available opportunity, he calls it the “Cheat-at-the-End” effect. Click here if you’d like to read more about it—fascinating!
How did he end up in London? Daniel was living in Chicago doing post-doctoral work at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and looking for faculty jobs. London Business School caught his eye because of its international diversity, a “friendliness to the kind of psychological work that I do,” and location in a city that’s a hotspot for his wife’s career in international development. He now lives in South London with his wife, Julia Tobias, and three daughters, Maya (5), Nova (3), and Lilah (1).