Today I took advantage of Ralph Hertwig’s long-standing offer to come and visit the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute of Human Development. The last time I visited the Institute was way back in 2000 for a summer school. I have fond memories. For example, I remember watching an epic soccer match in which Germany lost to Spain in the World Cup semifinals.
It’s a wonderful thing to be an academic: you can show up at an institute of higher learning located in a foreign country, be handed keys to an office, and then host a stream of intelligent and interesting visitors all day long. Today I spoke with Philipp Gerlach, Junyi Dai, Tim Pleskac, Doug Markant, Thorsten Pachur, Christin Schulze, and Stefan Herzog. These researchers are doing a lot of really interesting work, and several are building from my own research on experience-based choice. In particular, I really like Doug’s competitive sampling paradigm: freely sample outcomes from two options as much as you like, but be the first to make a choice otherwise you’re stuck with the option that your competitor didn’t want. I wish all of the folk on the job market the best of luck in their search!
Of course, the highlight of the day was lunch with Ralph. He’s a very busy guy and it was a privilege to get some time with him. Ralph was actually one of my PhD thesis examiners, so I do not forget that he was one of the people who allowed me to enter the academic community. I just had a look at his comments on my PhD theses and was pleased to read his comments once again. In summary, he did not agree with many of my conclusions but respected my point of view and scientific approach.
Over lunch Ralph did not waste too much time with the small talk. We spoke about the morality of (marketing) research and of “nudging”. It turns out that I do not have a good definition of what a nudge is. We also talked about the definition of deception and when it becomes a problem for experimental research. I only wish we had more time to flesh out the issues.
Thanks again to Ralph and the other members of the center for being so hospitable. I hope it takes me less than another 7 years before I visit again. And of course, I hope to see some of you in Australia soon, too.