Research FieldsBehavioral Economics
Drazen Prelec is the Digital Equipment Corp. Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management and a Professor of Management Science and Economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Prelec holds appointments in the Department of Economics and in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. His research deals with the psychology and neuroscience of decision-making, including behavioral economics and neuroeconomics, risky choice, time discounting, self-control, and consumer behavior. He works on both the development of normative decision theory and the exploration of the empirical failures of that theory, using behavioral and fMRI methods. A current project on “self-signaling” tries to understand the strange power of non-causal motivation—when individuals favor actions that are diagnostic of good outcomes, even though these actions have little or no causal force. Diagnostic motivation is real, and is probably essential for human self-control. Its cognitive and neural mechanisms are not well understood, however. A second “Bayesian truth serum” project deals with scoring systems for evaluating individual and collective judgment in knowledge domains where no external truth criterion is available. Examples would be long-range forecasts, political or historical inferences, and artistic or legal interpretations. Prelec is developing scoring systems that reward honest judgments and that can identify truth even when majority opinion is wrong.
He was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows, and has received a number of distinguished research awards, including the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.
Prelec holds an AB in applied mathematics from Harvard College and a PhD in experimental psychology from Harvard University.