Current Associate

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Bridging the Theory-Behavior Gap in Decision Research
Michel Regenwetter
Associate 2016-17

Decision making is difficult. Just as we teach our children to read and write, we should teach them decision literacy. Much of the recent financial crisis resulted from organized financial predators exploiting unsuspecting consumers. Since 2011 a dedicated government agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, aims to protect us from getting tricked into ruinous decisions. Behavioral decision research investigates how cognitive limitations and other factors impact decision making. However, decision behavior is not yet well understood.

The scientific study of decision making is hampered by tremendous heterogeneity in behavior. Over the past decade, Professor Regenwetter has developed a general theory of uncertain choice behavior that lets scholars model variability between and within decision makers very precisely. This framework overcomes logical reasoning fallacies engrained in current theories and methods; enhances scholars’ ability to model and measure heterogeneity; and dramatically accelerates scholars’ data analyses.

This project will result in a major journal article for submission to the flagship Psychological Review. This article will formulate the most comprehensive theory of uncertain choice behavior to date, supported with empirical illustrations and backed up with supercomputer-based data analyses. Although the theory uses sophisticated mathematics and statistics to diagnose different potential cognitive processes that drive uncertainty in decision making, Professor Regenwetter aims to make this theory accessible to a maximally broad research community.

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Image: Geometric representation of probabilistic choice models