Elke Weber, the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment and Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, has been awarded the Patrick Suppes Prize in Psychology from the American Philosophical Society for her work to understand how people make important decisions in real-world environments.
Weber’s research seeks to understand the factors people use to interpret risk and make decisions under uncertainty, revealing that people frequently violate the common assumption that they always make rational choices based on data alone. She uses information about human behavior and psychology to design decision environments that recognize the limitations of human decision-makers and account for the full range of human decision-making processes, with the goal of encouraging decisions that increase global well-being, justice, and sustainability.
Weber has often applied her work to address energy and environmental policy challenges, providing insights from behavioral science to help inform decision-makers and policy bodies. Her past research has uncovered widespread yet underestimated support for climate policy among the American public, gauged public perceptions of emerging technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration, and revealed how the carbon footprint of climate communicators can help or hinder their perceived credibility.
In presenting the award to Weber, Richard Shiffrin, the chair of the selection committee and the Luther Dana Waterman Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University, said, “Dr. Weber is one of the world’s most respected decision scientists, and her research is marked by her desire to help society by helping people make wise decisions in real-world settings. Dr. Weber’s research aligns perfectly with the mission of the American Philosophical Society of promoting useful knowledge.”
Weber came to Princeton in 2016, where she leads the Behavioral Science for Policy Lab (BSPL). Additionally, Weber serves as the associate director for education at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, a core faculty member of the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment, and the director of the Fung Global Fellows Program. She also oversees the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) certificate program at the School of Public and International Affairs. She joined Princeton from Columbia University, where she was the Jerome A. Chazen Professor of International Business at Columbia Business School and founded the Center for Decision Sciences and Center for Research on Environmental Decisions. Weber earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in Psychology from Harvard University and a B.A. in Psychology from York University in Toronto, Canada.
Weber has received many awards and honors for her work. In 2020, she was elected as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, and in 2018, she was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), and has held leadership positions in a number of professional societies.
Established in 2006, the Patrick Suppes Prize honors accomplishments in three scholarly fields, with the prize rotating each year between philosophy of science, psychology or neuroscience, and history of science.