Monday, April 23, 4pm, Psychology 101

Query Theory: Knowing What We Want by Arguing with Ourselves

Elke U. Weber
Columbia University

Psychologists and behavioral economists agree that many of our preferences are constructed, rather than innate or pre-computed and stored. Little research, however, has explored the implications that established facts about human attention and memory have when people—implicitly and automatically—marshal evidence for their decisions.  This talk provides an introduction to Query Theory, a psychological process model of preference construction that explains a broad range of phenomena in individual choice with important personal and social consequences, including our reluctance to change the status quo and our excessive impatience when asked to delay consumption.


Short BIO:
Elke Weber, PhD, is the Chazen Professor of International Business, Professor of Psychology, and Earth Institute Professor at Columbia University. With a doctoral degree from Harvard, her work on behavioral and neural models of decisions under uncertainty and time delay, funded by NSF and NIH, bridges psychology and economics. In 2009 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Basel for her work on human perceptions of and reactions to financial and environmental risks. She is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences and past president of the Society for Mathematical Psychology, the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, and the Society for Neuroeconomics. She has served on several U.S. National Academy committees and coauthored the 2009 APA report on the Interface between psychology and climate change. She is a lead author for a chapter on uncertainty for the 5th Assessment Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. At Columbia, she founded and co-directs the Center for the Decision Sciences and the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions.