Founded by Hillel Einhorn in 1977, the Center for Decision Research helped to pioneer the use of science to explain inconsistencies between actual and theoretically rational human behavior. In the early years, this work centered on decision making, shaking the foundations of classical economic theory by revealing reliable and unrecognized biases in how individuals understand the choices they face. Rather than simply contest establishment wisdom (advanced, in many cases, by luminaries in other departments of the school), CDR faculty fed off the tension between their new insights and traditional models. They worked to reconcile and refine seemingly incompatible understandings of human behavior to advance both the center and their revolutionary research.
Building on these successes in decision-making research, the CDR has since led a broad expansion of the field of behavioral science. Using insights from numerous disciplines—including psychology, economics, political science, neuroscience, and sociology—CDR faculty now lead a field that is proving indispensable for understanding human behavior in finance, marketing, management, health care, politics, charity, and many other domains.
The CDR Today
In 2017, the work of the CDR community was brought to the attention of a broader global audience when longtime faculty director Richard Thaler was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his contributions to behavioral economics.
The CDR is currently led by Faculty Director Nicholas Epley and governing board members Ayelet Fishbach, Devin Pope, Richard Thaler, and Bernd Wittenbrink. We're home to nearly 40 affiliated faculty members, more than two dozen PhD students, a rich community of postdoctoral researchers, and a dedicated administrative staff.
PIMCO's Generous Philanthropic Support
In the fall of 2018, PIMCO and the CDR announced a partnership in support of CDR’s behavioral science research. In recognition of this investment in research, Chicago Booth’s CDR laboratories were renamed the PIMCO Decision Research Laboratories. The PIMCO Decision Research Laboratories will yield scientific discoveries with the potential to improve individual and social welfare. The partnership will also include a new “storefront” behavioral science research lab to foster greater engagement with the public, broaden CDR’s reach, and increase the diversity of participants in the studies.