Psychology Seminar: Rongjun Yu (Harvard Medical School)

Sabancı University
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences





The Psychology of Predictably Irrational Decision Making



Dr. Rongjun Yu
(Harvard Medical School/Mass General Hospital)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
13:30  FASS 2034


Every day, people are inundated with decisions, ranging from the most trivial ones (“Tea or coffee?”) to the most important choices (“Shall I get married now?”). Traditional economic theories assume that an individual acts as if balancing costs against benefits to reach a decision that maximizes personal advantage. However, even very smart people make decisions that deviate from these theoretical predictions. Such systematic ‘errors’ are known as decision biases. I use novel behavioral paradigms combined with neuroimaging methods to study why people fall prey to biases, such as defaults biases, sunk costs, inequity aversion, and placebo effect. My research suggests that the processing of cost/benefit information is heavily susceptible to contextual information rather than determined by objective values. Analytic, rational thinking can be dominated by strong anticipatory feelings and social emotions, which can elicit suboptimal decisions.These findings may enhance the understanding of decision biases and can be used to help nudge people to make better choices.


P.S.: The seminar will be held in English.