Labs and Centers
Over the past 20 years, I have created three centers and labs that investigate human decision making in its complexity, combining theory and tools from cognitive psychology, behavioral economics, and the neurosciences. Two of those continue to exist at Columbia University and the third and most recent one is at Princeton University.
Behavioral Science for Policy Lab (BSPL)
The Behavioral Science for Policy Lab cuts across three academic units at Princeton University: (a.) the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment within the School of Engineering, (b.) the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy Center within the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and (c.) the Department of Psychology. PhD students, postdocs, and undergraduate researchers come from all three groups and also include international visitors. The physical location of the BSPL is in the Andlinger Center.
The BSPL mission is to put Weber’s previous research insights about the full range of human motivation and human decisions processes into a broader context, looking at decision makers who are imbedded in social networks and their physical and social environment, who receive information and cues from those sources as well as feedback from the effect their decisions have on their environment.
Interconnection and cross-talk and fertilization between models of human decision making and social network models and complex adaptive systems modeling.
Sara’s current research focuses on understanding how social norms affect individual and collective behaviors (especially in environmental contexts) and how this influence might vary depending on several factors, such as the source of norm information or the agency of the individual in determining her institutional context.
A second line of research is aimed at developing a comprehensive decision making framework, which extends beyond rational choice and brings together theories from various disciplines and levels of detail, in order to better characterize decisions in complex ecological contexts.
Previously, she completed a Ph.D. at New York University, where she developed computational models to capture learning and decisions in foraging contexts, characterized by inter temporal tradeoffs and opportunity costs.
Hale Forster is a Ph.D. student in the Psychology department at Columbia University, where she also conducts research in the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions and the Center for Decision Sciences. Her research focuses on behavior change and decision making, with an emphasis on understanding and encouraging sustainable energy use behaviors using a combination of lab and field research.
She is currently researching the effect of messages that activate environmental motivations on energy saving choices. This research examines the mechanisms through which environmental messages can lead to behavior change, including influencing how people make decisions (via activating different decision modes) and understanding how these messages activate a range of environmental identities.
She also studies how social environments can foster behavior change. Prior to joining Columbia, Hale was a Senior Consultant at an energy market research firm. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Oregon.
Matthew R. Sisco
Matthew Sisco is a doctoral student in the psychology department at Columbia University and is an IGERT Data to Solutions fellow with the computer science department. Matthew was previously the Program Coordinator at the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia. He is a collaborator and affiliate of the Behavioral Science for Policy Lab at Princeton University. His interests are at the intersection of behavioral science, computer science, and environmental problems.
Matthew works on developing computational methods for use in behavioral science, and applies these methods to studying behavioral aspects of environmental issues. His research looks at drivers of pro-environmental behavior and attention to climate change.
He is an expert in implementing machine learning and natural language processing methods for measuring psychological variables, such as attention to climate change, using big data (e.g. social media data, digital news data, etc.).
Matthew also is a competent web developer with substantial experience developing web applications for scientific data collection and data visualization.
Pooja Vijay Ramamurthi is a PhD student at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs at Princeton University. Her research is within the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy program.
She is interested in understanding individual and community decision-making processes focused on the energy and environment. Through her work, she plans to use behavioral science to formulate policies to hasten the creation of sustainable, affordable and reliable energy pathways in developing countries.
Prior to coming to Princeton, she worked at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) in India. She holds a double Masters degree in Sustainable Energy from the Royal institute of Technology, Sweden and Instituto Superior Tecnico, Portugal on a European Commission scholarship.
Adrian L. Rinscheid
Trained in Political Science (University Konstanz/Germany, University St.Gallen/Switzerland), Adrian focuses in his research on business’s and citizens’ roles in energy and climate politics. Specifically, his work investigates how firms and business associations shape citizens’ views on energy and the climate, and how they influence the outcomes of policy processes.
Adrian’s prior research has capitalized on direct democratic votes to study the complexity of preference construction in a real world setting. At BSPL, he applies experimental methods to gain a deeper understanding of the psychological underpinnings of social norm perceptions.
Silvia is a PhD student in Public Policy and Administration at Bocconi University and Junior Research Fellow at the IEFE Centre for Research on Energy and Environmental Economics and Policy of Bocconi University.
She investigates individual perception and decision-making in the context of climate change and environmental issues, applying both quantitative and qualitative methods.
In 2018 she is visiting Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. At BSPL she intends to apply behavioural perspectives to understand how social norms shape environmental decisions and behaviour.
Professor at Bocconi University
Valentina Bosetti is a professor at Bocconi University teaching environmental and climate change economics. She is a research fellow at the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change.
Valentina has also been collaborating for Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei from 2003 to 2018. She has been a visiting fellow at the Princeton Environmental Institute in 2009/2010 and she was a Fellow at CASBS at Stanford in 2014/2015.
Valentina was one of the lead authors of the 5th AR IPCC (2014) and she will serve again for the 6th AR. Valentina was president of the Italian Association of Environmental and Resource Economics (IAERE) and council member of the European one (EAERE). She was the PI of a ERC Starting Grant on Innovation and clean technologies (ICARUS) and she currently is PI ERC Starting Grant on Uncertainty and Climate Change (RISICO).
Stephanie Mertens is a doctoral student in the Consumer Decision and Sustainable Behavior Lab at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Her research focuses on the behavioral aspects of sustainability and investigates the psychological determinants of purchasing decisions in the energy domain. Specifically, her work examines how varying expressions or translations of energy consumption can enhance decision making on a cognitive and behavioral level.
At BSPL, Stephanie investigates the effects of attribute translations and other choice architectural interventions on decision making across different consumer groups and population segments. This comparative research aims to identify individual differences in responsiveness to interventions and to provide clear recommendations for the development and implementation of energy policies.
Prior to her doctoral studies at the University of Geneva, Stephanie received a B.Sc. in psychology from Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and a M.Sc. in social and cognitive psychology from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Centers at Columbia University
CRED is an interdisciplinary social science research center that studies individual and group decision making under climate uncertainty and decision making in the face of environmental risk. CRED’s objectives address the human responses to climate change and climate variability as well as improved communication and increased use of scientific information on climate variability and change. In addition to advancing fundamental theory in psychology, behavioral economics, and other social science disciplines, CRED researchers work on integrated field projects around the world, where decision science is brought to bear on sustainable development challenges in such settings as agricultural decisions and water management.
Located at Columbia University, CRED is affiliated with The Earth Institute and partners with various departments and centers across campus. CRED was established in 2004 as one of four centers under the National Science Foundation Program Decision Making Under Uncertainty (DMUU) with major NSF funding under two cooperative agreements. The initial CRED proposal emphasized the importance of group decisions, as well as individual actions in a group context, for climate-related and other environmental decisions. David Krantz, Elke Weber, Roberta Balstad, and Kenneth Broad were the initial co-directors of CRED, and the wider team has included many senior scientists from a variety of disciplines.
CRED’s mission is to comprehend and confront the gap between society’s recognition of environmental problems such as natural hazards and unsustainable consumption and society’s frequent failure to act on the scientific insights, economic analyses, and technological solutions that address these problems. CRED focuses on recent insights in the decision sciences that help explain this gap: the finite nature of human attention, the complex interactions of cognition and emotion in shaping human action, the challenges which uncertainty places on human perception and action, and the profoundly social character of human action. CRED seeks to remedy this gap through two major streams of activity. It conducts research in settings such as laboratories and field sites in the US and around the globe, and it carries out a number of forms of outreach, including education, communication guides, advising to local, national and international organizations, and the development of decision support tools which facilitate use of scientific information about the environment and which promote better group decisions. The flow between the research and the outreach goes in both directions: the research informs the outreach and the outreach provides research opportunities to test hypotheses. Taken together, these two streams of activity advance science and advance society’s capacity to address major environmental challenges.
For more details, see www.cred.columbia.edu
Our mission: The Center for the Decision Sciences (CDS) serves as a resource to encourage dialogue and collaboration among researchers in multiple divisions and disciplines at Columbia Business School and to facilitate dialogue with and research transfer to industry experts and public policy makers. Our goal is to generate and facilitate interdisciplinary basic research that is relevant to the needs of real world decision makers.
Our history: Decision science lies at the intersection of several social and behavioral science disciplines, drawing on theory and methods from economics, psychology, political science and management, among other fields. Theory and research in the decision sciences has followed two paths: The first is normative or prescriptive, focused on specifying criteria for evaluating decisions and providing algorithms for achieving optimal outcomes; the second is descriptive, focusing on how people actually make decisions.
The Center for Decision Sciences (CDS) at Columbia Business School has dual educational and research purposes: to provide cross-training to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in aspects of decision sciences that they are not exposed to in their home disciplines; and to bring together researchers from different departments and schools to work on research issues that require cross-disciplinary expertise.
Foci extend well beyond the interests of the core organizers, including but not limited to statistical decision theory, the micro-foundations of comparative justice systems, rational expectations in economics and political science, technological change and the restructuring of decision processes, and the impact of probabilistic forecasts (for example, climate variability) on decision algorithms. The Center provides assistance of various sorts to researchers, including advice on research design, data acquisition, and data analysis.
The Center, formerly part of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP), is a partner of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED).
CDS has three founding directors: Eric Johnson, David Krantz and Elke Weber.
For more details, see Center for Decision Sciences.