Some of my past and current research looks at "decisions from experience,” i.e., decisions based on the personally experienced outcomes of past choices, along the lines of reinforcement learning models and how such learning and updating is related to and differs from the way in which people and other intelligent agents use other sources of information, e.g., vicarious feedback (anecdotal/social and/or in the form of statistical distributions of outcomes) or science- or model-based outcome predictions to make “decisions from description.” What happens when these different sources of forecasts of the consequences of choices disagree with each other? How do such conflicts get resolved? How do these different ways of learning and updating over time lie at the basis of the formation and/or modification of social norms? And how can answers to this complex of questions be put to use to motivate greater action on climate change?
MORE INFO ABOUT ELKE WEBER
Elke Weber is the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy & Environment and Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, where she founded and directs the Behavioral Science for Policy Lab. She models decision-making under risk, uncertainty, and time delay from a psychological and neuroscience perspective in contexts that range from financial investments to consumer and voter decisions. Her expertise in the behavioral decision sciences has been sought out by many fora that address the human and social dimensions in global change, including the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
A native of Germany, her undergraduate degree in psychology is from York University in Canada and her PhD in behavior and decision analysis from Harvard University. She is past president of the Society for Neuroeconomics, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, and Society for Mathematical Psychology. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, Society for Risk Analysis, and Society for Experimental Psychology. She received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Society for Risk Analysis and was elected to the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the US National Academy of Sciences.
People’s decisions are not entirely analytic but also guided by emotions and/or rules of conduct. Dr. Weber’s research explores the full range of human goals and human information processes that shape our responses (to environmental change and energy technology transitions or other social change) with the objective of designing choice environments that facilitate more forward-looking responses.
Decisions (including those that impact sustainability and the quality of our natural environment) are made within a dynamic social, institutional, and physical context. Our social networks tell us what others do. Following social norms confirms social identity and reduces processing costs, while norm violations have negative consequences. Dr. Weber’s recent research examines why and how the perceptions of specific norms—embedded in networks of other norms, attitudes, and beliefs—change, and how these dynamics be utilized to accelerate change and create tipping points in behavior.