Richard H. Thaler studies behavioral economics and finance as well as the psychology of decision-making which lies in the gap between economics and psychology. He investigates the implications of relaxing the standard economic assumption that everyone in the economy is rational and selfish, instead entertaining the possibility that some of the agents in the economy are sometimes human. Thaler is the director of the Center for Decision Research.
Thaler, with co-author Shlomo Benartzi of UCLA, won the 2005 Paul A. Samuelson Award for outstanding scholarly writing on lifelong financial security for "Save More Tomorrow: Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Savings. Their winning paper was published in the Journal of Political Economy in February 2004. The Save More Tomorrow plan allows employees to allocate a portion of their future salary increases toward retirement savings. Contributions increase on each scheduled pay raise until the contribution rate reaches a preset maximum. Employees can opt out of the plan at any time.
He has published a number of articles in prominent journals such as the American Economics Review, the Journal of Finance and the Journal of Political Economy. He has authored three books: Quasi-Rational Economics, The Winner's Curse: Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life, and Advances in Behavioral Finance (editor).
His work has earned him a number of research grants, including ones from the U.S. Department of the Navy, the Alfred P. Sloan foundation, and the National Science Foundation.
Thaler is a member of the American Academy of Arts and and the co-director (with Robert Shiller) of the NBER project on behavioral economics.
Thaler worked as a research economist for the Center of Naval Analyses in Arlington. He went on to teach courses at Cornell, The University of British Columbia, the Sloan School of Management at MIT, and the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences before joining The University of Chicago faculty in 1995.
Originally from New Jersey, Thaler attended Case Western Reserve University where he received a bachelor's degree in 1967. Soon after, he attended the University of Rochester where he received a master's degree in 1970 and a PhD in 1974. He joined the GSB faculty in 1995.