Student-Faculty Dinner Discussion, A behavior scientist’s perspective on climate action – Elke Weber
Elke Weber – Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor
SummaryI believe that psychological theory needs to interface with social problems in a two-way dialogue, proving itself with constructive solutions in real-world settings and being enriched and constrained by those settings. My publication list below pairs basic research papers on the questions addressed by my research (“How do finite-capacity information processors judge, decide, act, and live in a world that is only partially predictable and offers feedback and rewards on sometimes immediate but other times very long time scales?”) in basic lab settings with one or two papers that then take those insights into applied settings, mostly in the environmental domain but also for financial (investment or pension savings) decisions. While much of my work draws distinctions between homo economicus and homo sapiens, I also examine individual, group, and cultural differences in discounting or risk taking and how best to assess and model them. Every research method has strengths and weaknesses, so I approach my questions with a mosaic of answers that draw on lab and field experiments that collect process data, behavioral outcomes, associated brain activation, and more. I then put all of these insights to use by helping individuals or social planners design decision environments that capitalize on the full range of human capabilities and goals to make wise decisions.