“Portrait of the Angry Decision Maker,” Jennifer S. Lerner, Harvard University

Event time: 
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:15pm
Institution for Social and Policy Studies (PROS077 ), A002 See map
77 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 


Abstract: Drawing on the Appraisal-Tendency Framework (e.g., Lerner & Keltner, 2000; 2001; Lerner et al., 2015), I will present a series of studies revealing that incidental anger systematically biases judgment and decision making by heightening perceptions of controllability and certainty, decreasing perceptions of risk, and increasing risk taking. I then will present a series of studies revealing the ways in which such superficially “biased” responses prove to be both biologically adaptive and financially lucrative, especially for males. Taken together, the studies make clear that simple conclusions about the role of emotion in rationality obfuscate complex patterns of human behavior. Angry decision makers exhibit a predictable pattern of responses but the normative consequences of such responses hinge on specific situational contingencies.

Dr. Jennifer S. Lerner is a professor within the Management, Leadership, and Decision Science Area at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is also Co-founder of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory and Steering-Committee Member of Harvard’s Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative. The first psychologist in the history of the Harvard Kennedy School to receive tenure, her work draws insights from psychology, economics, and neuroscience in order to elucidate human judgment and decision making. Together with colleagues, she has developed a theoretical framework that successfully predicts the effects of specific emotions on specific judgment and choice outcomes. Applied widely, the framework has been especially useful in predicting emotion effects on perceptions of risk, economic decisions, and attributions of responsibility. Across all areas, her work aims to expand the evidentiary base for designing public policies that maximize human wellbeing.

The Behavioral Sciences Workshop is held jointly between the Yale departments of Economics, Political Science, Psychology, and the School of Management (SOM). The workshop is cosponsored by the Center for the Study of American Politics (CSAP) and the School of Management’s International Center for Finance and Whitebox Advisors fund. Lunch will be served.

Open to: