Jennifer Lerner is an experimental social psychologist known for her research in emotion, effects on judgment and decision making. She is currently a professor of Public Policy and Management at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and former Faculty Director of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory. Her research interests also include accountability and the application of psychology to policy problems.
Lerner received her B.A. in psychology from the University of Michigan Honors College in 1990. She received her M.A and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1994 and 1998, respectively. Her postdoctoral fellowship through a National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award (NRSA) took place at UCLA and focused on biological bases of emotion. From 1999 to 2007 she served on the faculty of the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. Her primary PhD advisors were Dacher Keltner, Philip E. Tetlock and Shelley Taylor. She also received an Honorary M.A. Degree from Harvard University in 2007.
Work in Psychology
Lerner's research focuses on the influence of specific emotions (e.g., happiness or anger), in contrast to most models, which focus on larger categories of emotions (e.g., positive moods or negative moods) on behavior and decision making. She has proposed a framework which predicts that the influence of a specific emotion on judgment depends on a variety of cognitive factors related to the source of each emotion. Currently she is working to test predictions from this framework. For example, in a series of studies, her research examines the distinct effects of fear, anger, and happiness on risk perception and risk preference.
Honors and awards
Lerner has been the recipient of numerous academic awards from psychological and educational associations:
- Radcliffe Institute Fellow, 2010–2011
- Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), awarded by the National Science Foundation and The White House, 2004
- Estella Loomis McCandless Endowed (Junior) Chair, Carnegie Mellon, 2004–2007
- The National Science Foundation Career Award 2003-2008
- National Research Service Award, The National Institute of Mental Health, 1998–1999
- The National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 1993–1996
- Highest Honors in Psychology, University of Michigan, 1990
- James B. Angell Scholar, University of Michigan, 1989–1990