Daniel Gilbert (psychologist)

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Daniel Gilbert
Daniel Todd Gilbert.jpg
Born Daniel Todd Gilbert
(1957-11-05) November 5, 1957 (age 57)
Occupation Professor, non-fiction writer
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Colorado (BA)
Princeton University (PhD)
Period 1983–present
Genre social psychology
Notable works Stumbling on Happiness (2006)
Spouse Marilynn Oliphant
Relatives Shona Gilbert

Daniel Todd Gilbert (born November 5, 1957) is the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He is a social psychologist known for his research (with Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia) on affective forecasting. He is the author of the international bestseller Stumbling on Happiness, which spent 6 months on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into more than 30 languages, and won the 2007 Royal Society Prizes for Science Books. His three TED talks[1][2][3] have been seen by more than 13 million people, and continue to be among the most popular of all time.

At the age of 19, Gilbert was a high school dropout who wanted to be a science fiction writer. In an attempt to improve his writing skills, he took a bus to the local community college to enroll in a creative writing class. When he was told that the creative writing class was full, he signed up for the only class that was still open: Introduction to Psychology.[4] Gilbert eventually received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from University of Colorado Denver in 1981 and a Ph.D. in social psychology from Princeton University's Department of Psychology in 1985.

Gilbert has won numerous awards for his teaching, including the Harvard College Professorship and the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize. He has also won awards for his research, including the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. In 2008 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Gilbert's non-fiction essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Forbes, TIME, and others, and his short stories have appeared in Amazing Stories and Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, as well as other magazines and anthologies. He has been a guest on numerous television shows including 20/20, the Today Show, Charlie Rose, and The Colbert Report. He is the co-writer and host of the 6-hour NOVA television series "This Emotional Life"[5] which aired on PBS in January, 2010 and won several Telly Awards. Gilbert's Stumbling On Happiness was included as one of fifty key books in psychology in 50 Psychology Classics (2006) by Tom Butler-Bowdon.

Beginning in 2013, Gilbert appeared in a series of Prudential Financial television commercials that used "data visualization" to get Americans to think about the importance of saving for their retirements. For example, in one ad ("Stickers"), people were asked to put stickers on a time-line to indicate the age of the oldest person they knew to illustrate the recent increase in life expectancy. In another ("Dominoes"), Gilbert started a chain-reaction and set a Guinness World Record[6] by toppling a 30-foot domino to illustrate the power of compound interest. In another ("Magnets"), people put magnets on walls marked Past and Future to illustrate the optimism bias. These ads have been among the most successful in the history of the financial services industry.

He and his wife, Marilynn Oliphant, live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Gilbert has one son and two grandchildren.


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