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Two New PIK Professors: Barbara Mellers and Philip Tetlock

December 14, 2010, Volume 57, No. 15


Barbara Mellers and Philip Tetlock have been appointed Penn Integrates Knowledge professors at the University of Pennsylvania. The announcement was made last Thursday by President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price. Both PIK appointments are effective January 1. 

The Penn Integrates Knowledge program was launched by President Gutmann in 2005 as a University-wide initiative to recruit exceptional faculty members whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge across disciplines and who are jointly appointed between two schools at Penn.

Dr. Mellers is the 11th PIK professor, Dr. Tetlock the 12th.

Dr. Mellers, a globally influential scholar of decision making, will be the I. George Heyman University Professor. Her appointment will be shared between the department of psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences and the department of marketing in The Wharton School.

“Our judgments are influenced as much by perceptions as reality,” President Gutmann said. “Barbara Mellers’ path-breaking research examines how complex dynamics of decision making affect consumer choice, cooperative behavior and personal preference. By helping to reveal how we have knowledge about ourselves and how that knowledge, or lack thereof, influences our relationships with others, her scholarship provides invaluable insights and societal benefits. Penn is the perfect environment for Dr. Mellers not only to continue her innovative and integrative research but also to strengthen the University’s ever-increasing contributions to global knowledge and understanding.”

Dr. Mellers’ research examines the factors that influence judgments and decisions, including emotions, self-interest, past mistakes, sensitivities to risk and perceptions of fairness.  She is the author of almost 100 articles and book chapters, co-editor of two books and a member of numerous prestigious editorial boards. 

“Barbara Mellers is a worldwide leader in bringing psychological insights to the study of decisions and judgments,” Dr. Price said. “Her work crosses the boundaries of traditional disciplines, illuminating not only human behavior but also such areas as justice, risk management and behavioral economics.” 

Dr. Mellers is currently the Milton W. Terrill Professor of Business Administration in the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and has been a visiting professor at Penn since September.  She served as president of the Judgment and Decision Making Society, was a five-year National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator and has received major research support from the NSF.

She earned a PhD in 1981 and an MA in 1978 in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BA in 1974, also in psychology from Berkeley. 

The I. George Heyman University Professorship is the gift of Stephen J. Heyman, in honor of his father.  Stephen J. Heyman is a 1959 graduate of the Wharton School and a partner at Nadel and Gussman, an oil and gas exploration and production firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is an emeritus trustee and serves on the School of Nursing Board of Overseers. He is a recipient of the Alumni Award of Merit, the University’s highest alumni honor.

Philip Tetlock, an award-winning scholar of political psychology and organizational behavior, will be the Leonore Annenberg University Professor. His appointment will be shared between the department of psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences and the department of management in The Wharton School.

“Determining what goes into sound human decision making has critically important implications for the future progress of our society and the world,” Dr. Gutmann said. “Phil Tetlock’s seminal work is advancing our understanding of human behavior by rigorously exploring key psychological, cognitive and social elements of success and failure in human prediction and judgment. His scholarship demonstrates the importance of transparency, collaboration and accountability and also of being open-minded even about open-mindedness.”

Dr. Tetlock’s best-known work, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? (Princeton University Press, 2005), argued that “expert” predictions of political and economic trends are no more reliable than those of non-experts, based on a 20-year study of more than 82,000 predictions by 284 experts.  This widely influential book received, from the American Political Science Association, both the Robert E. Lane Award for Best Book in Political Psychology and the Woodrow Wilson Award for Best Book on Government, Politics or International Affairs. 

“Phil Tetlock’s path-breaking work exemplifies the power of integrating knowledge,” Provost Price said. “He brings together psychology, politics and organizational behavior in innovative research that defines entirely new areas of intellectual inquiry.”

Dr. Tetlock is currently the Lorraine Tyson Mitchell Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Haas School of Business at Berkeley and has been a visiting professor at Penn since September.  

He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an author and editor of nine books and hundreds of articles and the winner of numerous major professional awards, including, from the International Society of Political Psychology, both the Harold Lasswell Award for Distinguished Scientific Contribution in the Field of Political Psychology and the Erik H. Erikson Early Career Award and, from the American Psychological Association, the Award for Early Career Contribution to Social Psychology.

Dr. Tetlock earned a PhD in psychology in 1979 from Yale University and an MA in 1976 and a BA with honors in 1975 from the University of British Columbia. 

The Leonore Annenberg University Professorship is a gift of the late Leonore Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation.  A former chief of protocol of the United States, she was an emeritus trustee and honorary degree recipient of the University.  She and her late husband, Ambassador Walter Annenberg, founded the Annenberg School for Communication and Annenberg Public Policy Center at Penn.


Almanac - December 14, 2010, Volume 57, No. 15