The Harvard Decision Science Laboratory studies how people make judgments and decisions (building on insights from economics, psychology, and neuroscience) and identifies strategies that help people, organizations, and society improve decision making approaches and structures.

Features of the Laboratory

Completed in December of 2008, the laboratory features thirty-six cubicles and three interview rooms. Removable partitions offer researchers the flexibility to run up to 12, 24, or 36 subjects simultaneously.

Each cubicle in the lab functions as an independent unit, allowing for:

  • local stimulus presentation
  • audio/video communication and recording
  • up to 32 channels of physiologic measurement (available in only 12 cubicles)

Researchers may select from a menu of cutting-edge technologies to conduct their experiments. Each of the physio-enabled cubicles includes three modules: an impedance cardiograph, a four-channel bio amplifier, and a four-channel transducer module. Custom-designed software integrates recordings of physiologic responses, audio, and video. Utilizing the capabilities of these technologies, researchers can easily analyze the link between participants' physiology and their reactions to study stimuli. For example, the system can link physiological responses to each of a series of decisions, revealing how biology changes in response to changes in probability and value options.

Interview rooms are equipped with audio and visual recording capabilities. These rooms are useful for a variety of study designs including negotiation and one-on-one interviews.

The physical space also includes four changing rooms providing privacy for subjects to place electrodes on their backs and chests, used in the measurement of impedance cardiography and heart rate/variability. The laboratory also includes a reception/waiting area large enough to accommodate twelve subjects.

Sample of Current Research Initiatives of Lab Affiliates

  • Emotional influences on judgment and choice (Lerner)
  • Leadership decision making (Lerner)
  • Trust in decision making and negotiation (Bohnet)
  • Stereotypes and discrimination (Bohnet)
  • Financial decision making: savings, investments and credit (Laibson)