Kyle grew up skateboarding, snowboarding, rock-climbing, backpacking, and generally causing mayhem in Reno, NV. He graduated from Reno High School in 2000. He then moved to Santa Cruz, CA, to study at UC Santa Cruz where he received his B.A. in psychology in 2004. He fell in love with teaching working in UCSC’s peer tutoring program for three years as a group tutor for statistics and the natural sciences. After graduation, he lived in Santa Cruz and San Francisco for a few more years, where he spent his time surfing, playing frisbee, and reading everything he could get his hands on about evolution and evolutionary psychology (when he wasn’t teaching or waiting tables).
He moved to Boston at the beginning of 2008 to try and sneak his way into the psychology doctorate program at Harvard, which surprisingly worked, and somehow they never caught on. While pursuing his Ph.D. at Harvard, Kyle put his undergrad teaching skills to work to become a partner with Signet Education (then, Veritas Tutors) by developing a number of courses and curricula. He helped the company grow from a fledgling startup into the successful company it is today, and has remained an advising board member since. Of course, building one company is never enough, so Kyle then helped start and build another company, MotiveMetrics, where he currently leads their research team today. While these extracurricular entrepreneurial pursuits slowed his doctoral research to an alarmingly slow pace, Kyle eventually managed to finish his Ph.D. at Harvard in experimental psychology under Professor Steven Pinker in 2015, with a focus on evolutionary social cognition.
He currently applies his expertise in psychology to understanding consumer decision- making as Chief Scientist at MotiveMetrics. At MotiveMetrics, Kyle leads a team of top- notch Ph.D. psychology researchers from leading academic institutions, who use cutting- edge psychological theories, methods, and measurement techniques to understand the motivations that drive consumer behavior. Kyle and his research team work closely with a team of software developers to turn this research into practical tools that are implemented in an easy-to-use software solution, which can be used by both companies and psychology researchers who are seeking to understand the true motivations behind specific behaviors or of specific groups of people. MotiveMetrics’ software provides actionable information about why people buy, and offers insights that can and have been used to achieve incredible gains in marketing ROI.
In addition to Kyle’s research on consumer-decision making at MotiveMetrics, he also continues to do research on the psychology of coordination and common knowledge (defined as an infinite recursion of shared mental states, e,g., I know that you know that I know something...ad infinitum), which was the topic of his dissertation. His research has uncovered psychological adaptations for common knowledge that we use to navigate our complex social worlds by helping us cooperate and coordinate, manage our relationships, and respond strategically to social dilemmas. In this research, Kyle and his colleagues have explored the critical role that common knowledge and recursive mentalizing play in the self-conscious emotions (shame, pride, guilt, embarrassment), indirect speech, diffusion of responsibility, third-party punishment, charitable giving, and other areas of social life that involve coordinating behavior. Coordination and common knowledge provide a powerful theoretical framework that may help explain and unify many peculiarities of everyday human social life, such as taboo, hypocrisy, celebrity, euphemism, tact, and mock outrage to name a few. Kyle plans to pursue these many other avenues in future research.