MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2013

Colin Camerer

Behavioral Economist

Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences

California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California

Age: 53 at time of award

Published September 25, 2013

Colin Camerer is a pioneering economist whose research challenges assumptions about human behavior in the traditional models used by economists. Particularly adept at designing original and effective empirical experiments to explore and refine economists’ predictive models, Camerer’s seminal studies provide strong evidence of the inconsistencies between classical economic principles of rationality and observed choices and behavior of real people, leading to new theories.

Camerer was an early architect of behavioral game theory, which relies on experimental science to model human decision making in strategic and competitive situations such as bargaining, bluffing, and signaling, and he continues to push the boundaries of economic methodology as a leader of the emerging field of neuroeconomics. Publishing widely throughout social science, including in journals in economics, neuroscience, psychology, and sociology, his recent work combines rigorous behavioral modeling with new technologies, such as fMRI, to analyze brain activity during economic interactions that require individuals to make guesses about how other individuals will behave. The thought process underlying these guesses influences individuals’ economic behavior and has profound implications for understanding core economic phenomena such as savings, consumption, and asset market bubbles.

Camerer’s innovative thinking and modeling acumen are fostering an even more nuanced analysis of individual behavior and the practical policy implications of neuroscientific insights about human decision making.

Colin Camerer received a B.A. (1976) from Johns Hopkins University and an M.B.A. (1979) and Ph.D. (1981) from the University of Chicago. He joined the faculty of the California Institute of Technology in 1994, where he is currently Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics. His prior affiliations include the University of Chicago (1991–1994), the University of Pennsylvania (1983–1989), and Northwestern University (1981–1983).


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24 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All:  Meet the 2013 MacArthur Fellows thumbnail

24 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All: Meet the 2013 MacArthur Fellows

“This year’s class of MacArthur Fellows is an extraordinary group of individuals who collectively reflect the breadth and depth of American creativity.” -- Cecilia Conrad, Vice President, MacArthur Fellows program Read More