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Barb Mellers University of Pennsylvania, USA

I am a cognitive psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies human judgment and decision making from both a descriptive perspective - how people actually make judgments and decisions and a prescriptive one - how people can improve their judgments and decisions. My early work addressed what one might call “nuisance” variables that have no place in normative models, including contextual effects and response mode effects. Another major nuisance variable is emotions. With friends and colleagues, I developed models of feelings about the outcomes of decisions based on outcomes, probabilities, and counterfactual outcomes. I’ve also studied underlying emotions in human cooperation.
In the last decade, I’ve worked on human predictions. With many great colleagues, I have collected data from large, dispersed crowds to study ways to improve the accuracy of forecasts. We have examined how elicitation methods, training probabilistic reasoning, and aggregation algorithms can boost accuracy. Now, we are exploring how to improve group discussions about forecasts. It turns out that accuracy mindsets can reduce political polarization, and forecasting tournaments do much to improve the quality of debates.