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Yixian Xu | Team Profile

Yixian Xu Profile Image

Yixian Xu is a Research Fellow at the Skills Lab. Her focus is on developing assessment tools to measure higher-order skills such as social perceptiveness and leadership, in addition to investigating how AI adoption can help reduce inequality in productivity and negotiation.

As a first-generation student from rural China, Yixian also cares deeply about reducing opportunity inequality. Prior to her graduate studies at Harvard, Yixian worked at a Human Rights NGO in Wuhan (China) where she contributed to promoting equal education opportunity for women and persons with disabilities through legal assistance and policy consultation.

Yixian holds a B.A. in Sociology from Wuhan University, where she received a national scholarship to study abroad at UC Berkeley. She also holds an Ed.M. in Human Development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Selected Research & Projects

The Harvard Skills Lab — Measuring higher-order skills

The Harvard Skills Lab creates new, performance-based, scalable measurement tools for higher-order skills. We contribute to the basic science of human potential by defining and measuring concepts like teamwork, leadership and decision-making skills, with a focus on the changing demands of the labor market.

Reading the Mind in AI (RMAI) — Measuring emotional perceptiveness

The Reading the Mind in AI (RMAI) task is designed to assess an individual's ability to recognize emotional expressions on a diverse set of faces generated by AI. This skill is crucial for effective social interactions, especially in diverse team environments. The RMAI measures the capacity to discern both basic and complex emotions, which correlates with success in teamwork and leadership roles. Research suggests that performance on the RMAI task can predict leadership abilities in managing diverse teams, surpassing other factors such as personality, education, and gender. This underscores the significance of emotion perception skills in identifying individuals who enhance team productivity.


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