Leading to a Bachelor of Arts, the study of decision making at Brown covers descriptive questions like how people, institutions, and nations make judgments and decisions; normative questions about rationality, such as what constitutes the best judgments and decisions; and prescriptive questions, such as how the process of decision making can be improved to make actual decisions closer to optimal ones. By virtue of its broad interdisciplinary nature, the study of decision making covers work found in a variety of more traditional disciplines including psychology, cognitive science, economics, philosophy, computer science, and neuroscience. Professor Steven Sloman is the concentration advisor. Upon declaring, concentrators are also encouraged to speak with the appropriate area specialist from among those listed here.
Students in this concentration will:
Click here for requirements.
Concentrators must complete the required capstone seminar in the senior year. The seminar requires that they write a paper or complete a substantial project integrating the concepts they have studied in the concentration and demonstrating sophisticated knowledge and understanding of some area of behavioral science related to decision making. This could be a conceptual analysis, a computer decision aid, an empirical test of a method to use behavioral science to further social policy, or an empirical project on human or group decision making. Students are encouraged to work with area specialists to develop and execute their project.
Students interested in pursuing honors should identify a faculty sponsor and declare this interest with the concentration advisor during Semester 6. Although there is no minimum grade point average to enter the program, admission to the program is limited to students who have accumulated a strong academic record, and show evidence that they will meet the program’s requirements: conducting a year-long research project under the direction of a faculty sponsor culminating in a written thesis at the end of Semester 8. Honors theses can serve to satisfy the capstone requirement, although honors students are expected to attend the capstone seminar in the fall of their senior year.
This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals: