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.
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.