About Me

Octavia Zahrt profile picture

I am a doctoral candidate in Organizational Behavior (Micro) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. I am interested in innovative ways to help people thrive at work and beyond. My research draws on organizational behavior, psychology, and human-computer interaction to investigate wellbeing, engagement, and success at work.

In one line of research, I investigate how people’s wellbeing is shaped by social, technological, and organizational factors. For example, my 2017 article in Health Psychology found that individuals’ perceptions about how physically active they are (compared to other people their age) strongly predict mortality at the population level. This inspired an ongoing project on how to create fitness tracking interfaces that not only help people stay engaged but also fully benefit from their activity. Using a longitudinal field experiment, I study how Apple Watch activity feedback shapes people’s motivation, exercise behavior, and mental and physiological health.

Another line of research focuses on how organizations can promote employees’ physical and mental wellbeing, and thereby employee engagement and productivity. I have conducted interviews with experts in the workplace wellness field, including leaders at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, Stanford Health Promotion Network, Health Enhancement Research Organization, and Motion Infusion. Leveraging these insights, I aim to investigate interventions to maximize employee wellbeing and performance.

Finally, I am interested in organizational cultures of diversity and inclusion that enable employees from all social backgrounds to thrive. For example, I have worked on several projects showing that subtle social-psychological interventions to bolster people’s sense of belonging at critical time points (e.g., employee onboarding) can have sustained positive effects on their personal and professional thriving.

My collaborators include Alia Crum, Jeff Pfeffer, Maggie Neale, Marily Oppezzo, and James Landay. I am also a member of the Stanford Mind & Body Lab.

In the News

On my 2017 paper with Alia Crum on Perceived Physical Activity and Mortality: