Judgment, Decision Making, and Social Behavior

2009-2012 Theme Project





Initial Proposal (pdf)

The field of Behavioral Decision Research, populated primarily by psychologists, attempts to develop descriptively accurate models of human judgment (i.e., how people understand and react to uncertain outcomes) and human decision making. The field of Behavioral Economics, populated primarily by economists, attempts to incorporate ideas from Behavioral Decision Research in order to make better predictions about economic behavior and economic outcomes. In recent years, each field has expanded rapidly within its discipline. However, despite their closely related research agendas, there is surprisingly little direct interaction between the two fields, and even less collaboration. This lack of collaboration is a major stumbling block for the behavioral literature — many important questions are addressed independently despite the potential benefits from working together. Furthermore, both fields suffer from a lack of interaction with other social sciences which study many of the same questions.

Cornell is uniquely positioned to solve these problems and thereby move to the forefront of research on judgment, decision making, and social behavior. We have an established strength in both Behavioral Decision Research and Behavioral Economics. Moreover, Cornell is unique in that its psychologists and economists actively engage each other and consequently have developed an understanding and appreciation of each other’s field. While the potential for fruitful collaboration exists, the physically dispersed nature of behavioral scholars at Cornell has served as a barrier. This project will bring these scholars together to catalyze truly interdisciplinary collaboration that should persist well beyond the duration of the project. In addition, this project will identify ways to broaden the behavioral community to other social sciences.