Jennifer S. Lerner is an experimental social psychologist who studies the influence of emotional and social/structural factors on judgment and choice. Her research takes shape at the nexus of psychology, economics, and neuroscience, incorporating aspects of all three disciplines. In particular, Lerner pursues two primary research interests within the field of decision science: Her emotion research examines how human feelings influence outcomes involving risk perception, everyday economic transactions, and legal judgments. Her research into accountability examines how authority relationships shape judgment and choice outcomes.
During the fellowship year, Lerner is writing a book about emotion and decision making that starts with the premise that public policies will be more effective if they take into consideration the significant impact of emotions on decisions. It draws not only on the latest experimental evidence from the laboratories of psychologists, neuroscientists, and behavioral economists, but also on the wisdom of some of the most astute historical observers of human emotion, such as Charles Darwin and Aristotle.
Lerner received her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the UCLA, concentrating on psychoneuroimmunology. From 1999–2007, she was an assistant professor and then the Estella Loomis McCandless Associate Professor of Social and Decision Science at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2007, Lerner came to Harvard University and received tenure. She works to advance public outreach in science by appearing on national television and radio and in popular print media. The National Science Foundation has provided near-continuous funding for Lerner’s training and research, and she has been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), among other prizes.