History

The Harvard Decision Science Laboratory opened in January of 2009. Conceived as a university-wide research facility, the laboratory was built with substantial support from the Office of the University Provost, Steven Hyman, who gave the Laboratory a mandate to serve researchers from across the University.

At an early stage the decision was made that HDSL would be a behavioral facility in which the use of deception as an experimental tool would be prohibited. By making this decision, HDSL's faculty leadership ensured that the broadest possible group of researchers could make use of the scientific facilities of the Lab. Our subject pool, now numbering more than 2,400 individuals, is regularly advised of this policy.

Since opening in 2009, HDSL has hosted more than a thousand experiments designed and conducted by more than seventy faculty and researchers from seven different schools and institutions at Harvard University. Researchers working here span the intellectual community at Harvard, from senior tenured faculty to seniors in Harvard College conducting research for a thesis.

HDSL's institutional home is the Harvard Kennedy School. Through our relationship with the Kennedy School, our work at the scientific frontiers of the study of human decision making is constantly engaged in conversation with the world of policy and application. Because of this connection to HKS, science conducted at HDSL has an unparalleled opportunity to have immediate impact in the world beyond the university. Senior officials from government, the military, the international NGO community, and elsewhere regularly come to the Kennedy School for programs in Executive Education and benefit from exposure to the trailblazing work being conducted by HDSL scientists.

The work of the Harvard Decision Science Labortory has been supported by generous gifts from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and from Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn.