The Wroe Alderson Distinguished Lecturer Series 2022

Thursday, April 28, 2022, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
265 JMHH, Jon M. Huntsman Hall

Eric J. Johnson

The Norman Eig Professor of Business
Columbia Business School, Columbia University

Eric Johnson
Eric J. Johnson, Wroe Alderson Distinguished Lecturer



Eric Johnson is the inaugural holder of the Norman Eig Chair of Business, and Director of the Center for Decision Sciences, Columbia Business School at Columbia University. His research examines the interface between Behavioral Decision Research, Economics and the decisions made by consumers, managers, and their implications for public policy, markets and marketing.

He has been on the faculty of Carnegie-Mellon, the University of Pennsylvania, and was a National Science Foundation post-doctoral fellow at Stanford. Honors include the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Society for Consumer Psychology, being named a Fellow by the Association for Consumer Research and the Association for Psychological Science, and an honorary doctorate in Economics from the University of St. Gallen. His work is highly cited in Psychology, Business and Economics. He has also been president of the Society for Neuroeconomics and the Society for Judgement and Decision-Making, ad was a visiting scholar at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 2014-2017. His newest book is The Elements of Choice: Why the Way We Decide Matters.


Thursday, April 28, 2022
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
265 JMHH, Jon M. Huntsman Hall

Designing Better Choices

We do not make choices in isolation. Every choice that you make involves a hidden partner, someone who, perhaps unwittingly, affected your decision.   We could call them a choice architect but to keep things simple, I’ll call them a designer.

There are many demonstrations that the way designers pose choice influences what is chosen, but there is not much theory describing how this happens.  This is particularly important because the set of possible interventions is large, ranging from well-known interventions such as changing the number of options or setting a default option, to those less well known, such as the kind of scale used to describe options, or their order of presentation.  I will talk about two mechanisms that explain these influences across many of these tools, discussing how choice architecture changes how preferences are assembled and how it can affect the strategies and search paths used to make choices.

Using these principles, I’ll illustrate how to improve decisions through the judicious use of choice architecture in applications ranging from students’ choices of high schools in New York City, to doctors’ choices of prescription drugs.  Many might argue that choice architecture is ethically ambiguous, or worse.  I argue, instead, that it is ignoring choice architecture that is problematic.