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March 18, 2015

White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team seeking Fellows and Associates

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We received this from our friends at the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team
– Your DSN Editor

We are excited to announce that the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) is currently seeking exceptionally qualified individuals to serve as Fellows and Associates.

SBST works across the federal government to apply findings and methods from the social and behavioral sciences to help the policies, programs, and operations of government better serve the nation. SBST has partnered with federal agencies to design and test the impact of behaviorally-informed interventions within programs and policies using rapid, rigorous, and low-cost methods.

See below for further details on the team (also here for blog about our work), responsibilities and qualifications of Associates and Fellows, and details on how to apply for this unique opportunity. The deadline to submit an application is 11:59 PM on Sunday, April 12, 2015.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to sbst@gsa.gov with any questions.


Agency: General Services Administration (GSA)
Office: Office of Evaluation Sciences
Deadline: 11:59 PM Sunday, April 12 2015

The White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) is seeking Fellows and Associates beginning in September 2015. Fellows and Associates translate insights from the social and behavioral sciences into concrete recommendations for how to improve federal programs, policies, and operations, and work closely with agency partners to structure and implement rigorous experimental trials capable of testing the relative efficiency and efficacy of proposed interventions. Fellows are typically researchers with a PhD in a social or behavioral science field (e.g., economics, psychology, political science, statistics, sociology, public policy, etc…) on leave from positions at universities, government agencies, or other research organizations. Associates are generally pursuing a PhD in asocial and behavioral sciences field or have a Master’s Degree plus two or more years of relevant experience.

Job Summary:
SBST works across the federal government to apply findings and methods from the social and behavioral sciences to help the policies, programs, and operations of government better serve the nation. In its opening year, SBST has partnered with over a dozen federal agencies to design and test the impact of behaviorally-informed interventions within programs and policies using rapid, rigorous, and low-cost methods. Fellows and Associates must possess a unique set of technical and professional skills. This includes knowledge of at least one field within the social and behavioral sciences, the ability to creatively apply research knowledge within the federal government setting, the ability to manage the day-to-day operations of a field trial, and exceptional communication and interpersonal skills. The sought Fellow is an emerging or leading expert on leave from a university or other research appointment; the Associate is an exceptionally promising graduate student or researcher at a more junior stage of his or her career. All team members serve as federal employees, with a central division based at the General Services Administration (GSA). This is a one-year position beginning in early September 2015, with the possibility of renewal. The team is based in the GSA building at 1800F Street N.W. in D.C. The GSA has been repeatedly rated as one of the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” by the Partnership for Public Service . Compensation for Fellows and Associates is determined based on qualifications and experience.

Application Instructions:
Email C.V., two references, and a relevant writing sample to sbst@gsa.gov, with “SBST [Fellow / Associate] Application” in the subject line. Please include a 1-page cover letter introducing yourself and explaining your interest in being a Fellow or Associate.

The deadline to submit is 11:59 PM Sunday, April 12, although applications may be reviewed on a rolling basis. Finalists will be invited to an interview process that will include a writing exercise and up to two stages of interviews.

The following duties and qualifications apply to both Fellow and Associate roles; the next page provides profiles distinguishing the two roles.

Primary duties of Fellows and Associates :

  • Creatively translate insights from the social and behavioral sciences into concrete recommendations for how to improve federal programs, policies and operations
  • Work closely with agency partners to structure and implement rigorous experimental trials capable of testing the relative efficiency and efficacy of proposed interventions
  • Communicate regularly with agency partners and any outside collaborators in order to: ensure the rationale behind intervention ideas and trial design are clearly understood and meet agency goals; ensure that field experiments are implemented as planned; share updates on trial status; and discuss the implications of results
  • Perform data analyses and interpretation
  • Translate findings into project reports and policy memos for academic, agency, and public audiences
  • Assist, as needed, on additional projects being managed by other SBST members
  • Attend weekly SBST meetings, provide updates on project status and be generally available to collaborate on and contribute to internal tasks
  • Attend and potentially present at conferences and workshops

Required qualifications of Fellows and Associates:

  • General knowledge of applied behavioral sciences and specialized knowledge of at least one domain of a study within the social and behavioral sciences
  • Ability to think creatively about how insights from the social and behavioral sciences can be translated into concrete interventions that are practically feasible within specific federal programs, policies or organizations
  • Statistical competency in at least one programming language (e.g., R, Stata, Matlab, SAS, etc…)
  • Ability to effectively explain technical concepts to a broad range of audiences, orally and in writing
  • Strong writing skills, including under tight deadlines
  • Excellent management and organizational skills
  • Flexibility, self-motivation, and the ability to manage multiple tasks efficiently as a team player
  • Curiosity and willingness to learn about federal agencies and the unique practical and regulatory constraints

Preferred qualifications include:

  • Experience conducting randomized controlled trials in field settings
  • Experience working with the federal, municipal, state, or city governments
  • Advanced statistical skills, including experience handling large administrative data sets

Details for Fellow Applicants:
Fellows are typically researchers with a PhD on leave from positions at universities, government agencies, or research organizations. Fellows will be a lead investigator on complex experimental trials and responsible for the identification, design, execution and ongoing management of studies.

Additional qualifications:

  • PhD in related field, plus one or more years relevant work experience, or a Master’s Degree plus five or more years of relevant experience
  • Two or more years of experience designing, implementing and analyzing experiments (and preferably four or more years specifically conducting randomized controlled trials in field settings)

Additional duties:

  • Take an active role in identifying opportunities for the team to support agencies of government
  • Drive the team’s project efforts from initial conversations through experiment design, field testing, data analysis, evaluation and communication of results
  • Ultimately accountable for the operations of select field experiments
  • Represent the team in a more formal capacity at conferences, events and meetings

Details for Associate Applicants:
Associates have a Master’s Degree plus two or more years of relevant experience, or are at mid to final stages of a PhD program in a relevant course of study. these team members play a supportive role to Fellow, providing technical contributions and expertise to studies and operational oversight to projects and components of studies.

Additional qualifications:

  • Graduate coursework in pursuit of a PhD, or a Master’s Degree plus two or more years of relevant experience
  • Experience designing, implementing and analyzing experiments (and preferably conducting randomized controlled trials in field settings)

Additional duties:

  • Assist in the management and operations of select field experiments
  • Assist with data analyses and interpretation
  • Assist in the organization of workshops and events

March 13, 2015

The SJDM Newsletter is ready for download

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The quarterly Society for Judgment and Decision Making newsletter can be downloaded from the SJDM site:


It features jobs, conferences, announcements, and more.

Decision Science News / SJDM Newsletter Editor

March 6, 2015

Save the date: SJDM, November 20-23, 2015, Chicago

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This year’s (2015) SJDM annual conference will be in Chicago, Illinois, November 20-23, 2015. Late registration and welcome reception will take place the evening of Friday, November 20.

Paul Slovic picture Before the reception, 3-5 PM Friday, there will be a tribute to Paul Slovic. Confirmed speakers include Daniel Kahneman, Baruch Fischhoff, Howard Kunreuther, John Payne, and others. Organizers are Ellen Peters (Chair), John Payne, Craig Fox, and Melissa Finucane.

Photo credit:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2004-07-14_2600x1500_chicago_lake_skyline.jpg

February 26, 2015

Don’t be that person who mixes up opt-in and opt-out

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We talk a lot about default policies, in particular opt-in policies and opt-out policies (e.g., opt-in vs. opt-out policies for membership in organ donor pools).

When we speak about this stuff, people asking us questions often use the terms backwards or incorrectly. They say opt-in when they mean opt-out and they say opt-out when they mean opt-in. Or they use either when talking about forced choice. Here’s an example from the Chief Technical Officer of Lenovo making the mistake when talking about the Lenovo adware fiasco.

Q. What kind of quality assurance process would even allow for installing this kind of adware on Lenovo machines?

A. At a high level, the team that defines what is in these products will encounter stuff in the market, then they will say, “Here is something we want to do,” and they will engage an engineering team. Then we will go through this thing and make sure it adheres to our policies and practices. We make sure it doesn’t know who the individual is. We make sure it’s opt-in. But what was completely missed in this was the security exposure caused by the design of the certificate authority they used.

Q. There was nothing about this experience that was opt-in.

A. When you buy a Lenovo machine and turn it on, this was one of the programs that was presented to you. At that point, you could click a button that says, “I don’t want to use this.”

Q. I have to press you on that. What did the opt-in prose look like? Nobody recalls anything about this being opt-in.

A. I don’t have it in front of me, but I will get it to you. We want to make this right going forward. Part of this is what we are doing to fix the problem and what are we doing to make this right going forward. To that end, we’re trying to present – in much more plain English — a view of what these programs do.

If the program activated the adware for those who didn’t click “I don’t want to use this”, it was opt-out, not opt-in.

If the program made you answer before activating your computer, it was forced choice (or mandated choice), not opt-in.


Opt-in means users are out by default and can choose (i.e., opt) to be in.

Opt-out means users are in by default and can choose (i.e., opt) to be out.

Forced choice means people are deprived of the product or service unless they choose to be in or out.

For many policies, forced choice is not an option. For instance, for organ donation, they can make you choose in order to get a driver’s license; they can deprive you of the license. But if you decide you don’t want a driver’s license, the default of the country applies to you. You can’t make being an organ donor a forced choice.

February 20, 2015

Put the size of countries in perspective by comparing them to US states

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This Mercator projection is famous for distorting land areas

Like Jake Hofman, we at Decision Science News love putting things in perspective. Watch this space for a paper we are writing on the topic. We recently thought:

  • Wouldn’t it be cool for US readers to see how big foreign countries are by comparing them to presumably familiar US states?
  • Wouldn’t it be cool for non-US readers to see how big US states are by comparing them to presumably familiar countries?
  • Wouldn’t it be fun to group countries by area?

To keep things simple, we only consider the area of each state, twice the area of each state, and the area of the entire USA as units. We only bother with twice states’ area thing for big countries (larger than 2,500,000 sq km). For compactness, we do not provide the reverse mapping from countries to US states. R code available upon request.

Here you are. A list of US states along with countries and dependencies that are roughly as large as them:
Smaller than Rhode Island (4,002 sq km):

Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Barbados, Bermuda, Comoros, Cook Islands, Dominica, Gaza Strip, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guernsey, Holy See (Vatican City), Hong Kong, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritius,  Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Nauru, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tonga, Tuvalu


As big as Rhode Island (4,002 sq km):

Cape Verde, French Polynesia


As big as Delaware (5,061 sq km):

Brunei, Cyprus, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, West Bank


As big as Connecticut (14,359 sq km):

Bahamas, East Timor, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Gambia (The), Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Qatar, Swaziland, Vanuatu


As big as New Jersey (22,590 sq km):

Belize, Djibouti, El Salvador, Israel, Slovenia


As big as Vermont (24,903 sq km):

Republic of Macedonia


As big as Massachusetts (27,337 sq km):



As big as Hawaii (28,314 sq km):

Albania, Armenia, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Solomon Islands


As big as Maryland (32,134 sq km):

Belgium, Bhutan, Denmark, Estonia, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Moldova, Netherlands, Republic of China (Taiwan), Switzerland


As big as West Virginia (62,758 sq km):

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Togo


As big as South Carolina (82,898 sq km):

Austria, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Panama, United Arab Emirates


As big as Maine (91,652 sq km):

French Guiana, Jordan, Portugal


As big as Indiana (94,327 sq km):

Hungary, South Korea


As big as Kentucky (104,664 sq km):

Iceland, Serbia and Montenegro


As big as Tennessee (109,158 sq km):



As big as Virginia (110,771 sq km):

Benin, Bulgaria, Cuba, Honduras, Liberia


As big as Pennsylvania (119,290 sq km):

Eritrea, Malawi, North Korea


As big as Mississippi (125,443 sq km):



As big as Louisiana (134,273 sq km):



As big as New York (141,090 sq km):

Nepal, Tajikistan


As big as Iowa (145,754 sq km):



As big as Wisconsin (169,652 sq km):

Suriname, Tunisia


As big as Missouri (180,545 sq km):



As big as Oklahoma (181,048 sq km):



As big as Washington (184,674 sq km):



As big as South Dakota (199,742 sq km):

Kyrgyzstan, Senegal


As big as Kansas (213,109 sq km):



As big as Idaho (216,456 sq km):



As big as Minnesota (225,181 sq km):

Laos, Romania, Uganda


As big as Michigan (250,737 sq km):

Ghana, Guinea, United Kingdom


As big as Colorado (269,618 sq km):

Burkina Faso, Gabon, New Zealand, Western Sahara


As big as Nevada (286,367 sq km):



As big as Arizona (295,274 sq km):

Italy, Philippines


As big as New Mexico (314,924 sq km):

Congo (Republic of the), Côte d’Ivoire, Finland, Malaysia, Norway, Oman, Poland, Vietnam


As big as Montana (380,847 sq km):

Germany, Japan, Zimbabwe


As big as California (423,999 sq km):

Cameroon, France, Iraq, Morocco, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen


As big as Texas (695,673 sq km):

Afghanistan, Bolivia, Botswana, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, Zambia


As big as Alaska (1,700,133 sq km):

Algeria, Angola, Chad, Congo (Democratic Republic of the), Greenland, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Niger, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan


Twice as big as Alaska (3,400,266 sq km):

Argentina, India, Kazakhstan


As big as the United States (9,826,630 sq km):

Australia, Brazil, Canada, China


Twice as big as the United States (19,653,260 sq km):



Map credit:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_map_projections#mediaviewer/File:Miller_projection_SW.jpg

Country Areas: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_area

February 11, 2015

How to get a no-nonsense weather forecast

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Click to visit

People ask us, “You folks at Decision Science News, how do you get your US weather forecasts?”

Because we like graphs and probabilities, we go to a page by US National Weather Service puts out that tells us for every hour in the next few days, the predicted temperature, the chance of precipitation, the predicted amount of rain, the predicted amount of snow, and that’s it.

Here’s how to get graphs for your location (Feb 2015)

1. Go to weather.gov
2. Enter your location code where it says “Local forecast by ‘City, St’ or ZIP code” at the top left.
3. On the resulting page, scroll all the way to the bottom and look for the link “Hourly Weather Graph” under “Additional Forecasts and Information” (or click the colorful “Hourly Weather Graph” at right).
4. On the resulting page, there will be a graph, but it will be a hot mess full of stuff you don’t care about. Stuff like dew point and wind direction. Bad defaults. Uncheck everything except:

  • Predicted temperature
  • Precipitation potential
  • Rain
  • Snow

5. Season to taste.
6. Save the resulting URL. Add it to your bookmarks toolbar. Make it your homepage. We have.

The link we use here in New York City is:


Or, as a link: http://1.usa.gov/1ELoek6

Note that you can just steal our link and replace “40.77664” with your latitude and “-73.95215″ with your longitude, and it should just work inside the US.

If you don’t know your latitude or longitude, just go to Google or Bing and type “Los Angeles, CA latitude longitude” (or whatever) and it will show it to you. Note that “100 West” would be written as “-100″ in the URL.

Enjoy your no nonsense, accurate, short term, localized weather forecast.

February 10, 2015

2015 Summer Institute on Bounded Rationality in Berlin

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Until March 8, 2015, applications are open for the 2015 Summer Institute on Bounded Rationality, which will take place on June 4–11, 2015, at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany.

The Summer Institute will gather renowned scientists and talented young researchers from around the globe for an interdisciplinary dialogue on human decision making. The Summer Institute aims to foster understanding of the process and quality of decision making when the conditions of rational choice theory are not met. To this end, it offers a forum for decision-making scholars from various disciplines to share their approaches, discuss their research, and be inspired.

This year’s Summer Institute focuses on how humans make decisions in the wild, including the economy, and how they should make those decisions. The keynote address will be given by Stanford business professor Kathleen Eisenhardt. On behalf of the directors of the Summer Institute, Gerd Gigerenzer and Ralph Hertwig, we invite young decision-making scholars from all fields to apply. Participation will be free, accommodation will be provided, and travel expenses will be partly reimbursed.

Applications are open until March 8, 2015.
Save the deadline: bit.ly/SI2015_deadline
See the website: bit.ly/SI2015_info

Please feel free to email any questions you might have to si2015@mpib-berlin.mpg.de

To pass on this call for applications, you can find a pdf-version here: bit.ly/SI2015_cfa

February 6, 2015

2016 Invitational Choice Symposium – Lake Louise, Alberta

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The 10th Triennial Invitational Choice Symposium will be held at Lake Louise, Alberta (in the heart of the Canadian Rockies) May 14-17, 2016. It will be hosted by the University of Alberta, and chaired by Gerald Häubl and Peter Popkowski Leszczyc.

The call for workshop proposals will be issued in May 2015, and the submission deadline will be September 15, 2015.

About the Choice Symposium:
The purpose of the Triennial Invitational Choice Symposium is to provide a forum for in-depth interaction among the world’s preeminent scholars (from various scientific disciplines) in the domains of human choice behavior and decision making. These domains are defined broadly. In particular, the Choice Symposium is designed to facilitate discourse that will lead to advances both in our theoretical/substantive understanding of how people make choices and in the methods for studying choice behavior. The Symposium entails a number of parallel workshops on specific, well-defined themes. Each of these workshops is (a) organized by two or three thought leaders on a theme that they propose and (b) attended by a total of 10-12 additional participants who are invited by the workshop organizers.

About the Venue:
Lake Louise is located in Alberta’s Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The venue of the 2016 Choice Symposium is the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, an iconic lakefront hotel surrounded by spectacular mountains.

For more information:

January 27, 2015

Put your model where your mouth is: a choice prediction competition

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Ido Erev, that Eyal Ert, and Ori Plonsky (henceforth “we”) invite you to participate in a new choice prediction competition The goal of this competition is to facilitate the derivation of models that can capture the classical choice anomalies (including Allais, St. Petersburg, and Ellsberg paradoxes, and loss aversion) and provide useful forecasts of decisions under risk and ambiguity (with and without feedback).

The rules of the competition are described in http://departments.agri.huji.ac.il/cpc2015. The submission deadline is May17, 2015. The prize for the winners is an invitation to be a co-author of the paper that summarizes the competition (the first part can be downloaded from http://departments.agri.huji.ac.il/economics/teachers/ert_eyal/CPC2015.pdf).

Here is a summary of the basic idea. We ran two experiments (replication and estimation studies, both are described in the site), and plan to run a third one (a target study) during March 2015. To participate in the competition you should email us (to eyal.ert at mail.huji.ac.il) a computer program that predicts the results of the target study.

The replication study replicated 14 well-known choice anomalies. The subjects faced each of 30 problems for 25 trials, received feedback after the 6th trial, and were paid for a randomly selected choice. The estimation study examined 60 problems randomly drawn from a space of problems from which the replication problems were derived. Our analysis of these 90 problems (see http://departments.agri.huji.ac.il/cpc2015) shows that the classical anomalies are robust, and that the popular descriptive models (e.g., prospect theory) cannot capture all the phenomena with one set of parameters. We present one model (a baseline model) that can capture all the results, and challenge you to propose a better model. The models will be compared based on their ability to predict the results of the new target experiment. You are encouraged to use the results of the replication and estimation studies to calibrate your model. The winner will be the acceptable model (see criteria details in the site) that provides the most accurate predictions (lowest mean squared deviation between the predicted choice rates and the choice rates observed in the target study).

January 23, 2015

Save the date: ACR 2015, Oct 1-4, New Orleans

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We invite you to attend the 2015 North American Conference of the Association for Consumer Research, to be held at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, from Thursday, October 1 through Sunday, October 4. The conference theme is Advancing Connections. It is inspired by a desire to build better connections across different research paradigms and approaches and to facilitate connections among academics, practitioners, and public policy makers, as well as to consumers. In recent years, many members of the ACR community have expressed the desire for more research endeavors that take a broader perspective and have the potential to make greater impact on theory and practice. We hope and believe that when we individually and collectively reach across research silos and make meaningful connections it promotes rigorous and relevant work that generates important insights about consumer behavior.

We hope that encouraging broad participation is facilitated by this year’s conference location: New Orleans. New Orleans itself advances connections between a wide range of cuisines, musical styles (particularly as the birthplace of jazz), and historic celebrations–most importantly, of course, Mardi Gras. The Hilton Riverside has a prime downtown location and sits on the banks of the Mississippi River. It is steps from the streetcar lines and three blocks from the French Quarter. New Orleans is served by the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).

Full information available at


Conference Co-chairs:
– Kristin Diehl, University of Southern California
– Carolyn Yoon, University of Michigan