06/22/2000 07:00:00

Caltech Professor Colin F. Camerer Elected as a Fellow of the Econometric Society

PASADENA—Colin F. Camerer, the Rea A. and Lela G. Axline Professor of Business Economics at the California Institute of Technology, was named a 1999 Fellow of the Econometric Society. He was elected for his research in experimental and behavioral economics.

Camerer integrates psychology with economics to explore its impact on decision sciences and game theory. His research uses economics experiments and field studies to understand how people behave when making decisions.

"Traditional economic models assume that people are rational and self-interested, that they have complete and separable preferences that trade off with time," Camerer explains. "This has the potential to go against human nature. People get angry and lose self-control; they trade long-term benefits for short-term benefits. Many make decisions based on sympathy." Camerer's research tries to incorporate limits on cognitive capacity, will power, and self-interest into economic and decision analysis.

"Such research will not only be helpful in predicting economic trends, but in understanding social policy," Camerer foresees. "Poverty, war, cross-cultural interactions—most social issues are affected by decision psychology. The goal is to help comprehend these issues by finding a more general mathematical theory that matches what we know about human psychology."

Founded in 1930, the Econometric Society is an international association that promotes the advancement of economic theory in its relation to statistics and mathematics. Fellows of the Econometric Society are elected based on their research contributions to economic theory, or to statistical or accounting analyses that have a definite bearing on economic modeling.

Of the approximately 500 Fellows of the Econometric Society, Camerer is one of the few who is interested in behavioral economics. "I have the difficult task of having to please two masters: the psychological and the economic," Camerer relates. "Many economists are skeptical about combining psychology and economics. My election gives legitimacy to this field."

Contact: Mohi Kumar (626) 395-8733 mohi@its.caltech.edu

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Written by Deborah Williams-Hedges