Our Mission

The mission of ISDM is to support, unite and develop the interdisciplinary study of human decision-making throughout the academic and policy landscape at NYU – linking the study of decision-making from the level of neurons to the level of social policy.

We accomplish this goal by connecting academic scholars in neuroscience, psychology, economics, marketing, management, information systems and finance with practitioners in urban informatics and with medical clinicians wrestling with the pathologies of decision-making. Our goal is to better understand the mechanisms, predict the impacts, and shape the policies that will define the study of decision-making tomorrow. We accomplish this goal by promoting interdisciplinary teaching of graduate and undergraduate students, by developing novel research infrastructures to support the propagation of neurobiological insights about the human animal into the policy domain, and by eliminating the friction that traditionally limits interdisciplinary study between disparate fields of inquiry. We hope to define a new kind of decision science that will impact not only international academic scholarship, but also medical practice, financial markets, and the social policies that shape our urban setting.

Central to this mission will be the linkage between traditional scholars working to understand decision-making and NYU’s flagship division for the study of urban informatics: The Center for Urban Science and Progress. Founded in 2012, CUSP is rapidly becoming the world center for urban informatics. With access to the massive data streams flowing through the City of New York, CUSP will provide the ISDM with a truly unique opportunity to test models and policies developed by scholars at a previously unimaginable scale. NYU’s unique assets: CUSP, the Stern School of Business, The Langone Medical Center, our International Campuses and our unique connection with New York, offer an unparalled opportunity to unite scholars studying decision-making in a synergy that would be possible nowhere else.

About ISDM

What are the roots of human behavior? How do we make decisions, and what forces shape those decisions? How can we apply what we learn about human health and behavior to inform and improve public policy to make it more effective? The Institute for the Study of Decision Making (ISDM) was formed to bring together different scientific disciplines—including neuroscience, economics, psychology, and urban informatics—to tackle the next generation of human behavior research challenges and translate that research into improved public policy. ISDM breaks down the barriers between these and other disciplines and integrates the insights from these seemingly disparate fields into the study of neuroeconomics: understanding how people make decisions. Combined with our partner institutions within NYU, ISDM is the premiere global research institution for neuroeconomics and human behavior.

About Neuroeconomics

Decades ago, scholars of human decision-making with a bent toward policy were economists. Trained in econometrics, those social scientists used sophisticated mathematical tools to connect macro-scale measures of our societies to the social policies meant to improve our welfare. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a group of pioneering psychologists, led by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, began to develop a richer academic notion of decision-making that reached down from economics to psychology for novel insights. Thirty years later, those insights, which began the “behavioral revolution,” have become fundamental drivers in the world of policy.

Fifteen years ago, a group of cognitive neuroscientists began to push down even further, exploring how the structural features of our nervous systems condition our behaviors and our choices. Today, the policy implications of those “neuroeconomic” insights are beginning to be explored as well. From each of those revolutions what emerged was both a more consilient view of human behavior and an aspiration to policy – an effort to shape our societies by using all that we know about how humans make decisions.

ISDM takes that trend a step further by embracing a new and radically different opportunity. This opportunity allows researchers to reach upwards directly to the policy level, while at the same time testing what has been learned about the human decision-maker in an unprecedented way.

The HUMAN Project

The HUMAN Project is the first interdisciplinary big data bio-behavioral longitudinal study that will provide a data platform that will be a resource for the entire research community. The THP will study 10,000 New York City residents for 20 years, gathering measurements across neuroscience, genetics, psychology, economics, sociology, and urban informatics to truly understand the dynamic interplay between biology, behavior, and the environment in the bio-behavioral complex. Click here to learn more.