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Social scientists find story in data to attract more customers

Marketing, Psychology, Technology, consumer, user experience

Matt Wallaert is not a software engineer. Nor is he a programmer or developer.

Still, it’s not unusual for him to get calls regularly from tech companies looking to recruit him.

Wallaert is a social scientist — a behavioral scientist who has done undergraduate and graduate work in psychology.

Eight months ago, Wallaert, who also has experience at tech startups, began working at Microsoft with the Bing team, figuring out ways to make it easier for Bing users to make decisions and take actions, as well as ways to wean people off the habit of automatically going to Google for their Web searches.

While the idea of social scientists working at tech companies is not new, “There’s been a shift in the industry,” Wallaert believes. “They used to shuffle these people into marketing: ‘How do we get them to help sell us more things?’ Now, they’ve shifted us into product: ‘How do we actually make the thing better.’”

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