Will People Believe Anything? The Psychology of Gullibility

October 10, 2008
Princeton Club of New York


brain_gears-90px.pngDo you believe it is bad luck to call attention to success or to name a baby before it is born? Has a fad diet ever caught your attention, only to disappoint you when it doesn't work? Have you ever half-believed the phrase, "bad things come in 3's?" These are just a few instances where our all-too-human judgment and superstition infect our everyday lives.

Our past experiences, predictable biases, and limited ability to process vast amounts of information all too often guide and distort our beliefs. Thomas D. Gilovich, PhD (Cornell University) presented the latest research on experiences such as seeing order in randomness, superstition, and wishful thinking, as well as many other human frailties. Gilovich also discussed how to cultivate more sound reasoning and effective decision-making. 


Watch videos of the introduction, presentation, and Q&A session from this Science Café.


Thomas Gilovich

Q & A


Download copies of PowerPoint presentations and other materials from this event.

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Thomas D. Gilovich, PhD

Cornell University

gilovich.jpgThomas Gilovich is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychology at Cornell University and co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision Research. He received his B.A. in Psychology in 1976 from the University of California and his PhD in Psychology in 1981 from Stanford University. Dr. Gilovich studies how people make judgments and decisions in their everyday and professional lives. He is most widely known for research that debunks the “hot hand” in basketball, that identifies what people regret most in life and why, and that examines the contaminating influence of egocentrism on everyday judgment.

He has written three books: How We Know What Isn’t So (1991), Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes (1999, with Gary Belsky), and Social Psychology (2005, with Dacher Keltner and Richard Nisbett). He also edited, with Dale Griffin and Daniel Kahneman, Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment. Dr. Gilovich was awarded the Stephen Russell Distinguished Teaching Award and was twice named Outstanding Educator for teaching statistics, judgment, and social psychology to undergraduate students at Cornell. 

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The FABBS Foundation changed its name from the Foundation for the Advancement of Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 2009.