Rakesh Sarin

Professor in Decisions, Operations, and Technology Management ; Paine Chair in Management

Phone: (310) 825-3930

Fax: (310) 206-3337


Gold Hall, Room B-519


Professor Sarin has been a member of the faculty for over 25 years. He has developed models that have found applications in project evaluation, new product development decisions, and analyzing risks to human health and the environment. He has served as a consultant to several private and public organizations. His theoretical interests are in preference theory, decisions under uncertainty and equity and fairness in decision-making.

Teaching Focus
Data Analysis and Decisions Under Uncertainty, Operations Management


Ph.D. Operations Management, 1975, UCLA
MBA 1971, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
B.E. Mechanical Engineering, 1969, M.R. Engineering College, Jaipur


Decision Analysis, Risk Analysis, Behavioral Decision-Making
  • Manel Baucells, and Rakesh K. Sarin. (February 2010). Predicting Utility under Satiation and Habit Formation. Management Science, 56(2): 286-301. [ Link ]
  • Manel Baucells, and Rakesh K. Sarin. (September 2007). Evaluating Time Streams of Income: Discounting What?. Theory and Decision,
  • Manel Baucells, and Rakesh K. Sarin. (January-February 2007). Satiation in Discounted Utility. Operations Research, [ Link ]
  • Thomas Langer, Rakesh Sarin, and Martin Weber. (September 2005). The Retrospective Evaluation of Payment Sequences: Duration Neglect and Peak-and-End Effects. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 58(1): 157-175. [ Link ]
  • L.R. Keller, R.K. Sarin, J. Sounderpandian. (December 2007). An Examination of Ambiguity Aversion: Are Two Heads Better Than One?. Judgment and Decision Making, 2(6): 390-397. [ Link ]
  • A. Wieland and R.K. Sarin. (June 2012). Domain Specificity of Sex Differences in Competition. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 83(1): 151-157. [ Link ]
  • B. Davis, I.S. Currim, and R.K. Sarin. (Forthcoming). Reference Dependence and Conjoint Analysis. Review of Marketing Science,
  • M. Baucells, R.K. Sarin. (July 2012). Determinants of Experienced Utility: Laws and Implications. [ Download ] [ Show Abstract ]
    Satisfaction in experiencing the future depends on decisions made today. We consider six well-known psychological laws governing satisfaction. The laws capture habit formation, social comparison, and satiation. We show it is possible to formalize these laws by means of a utility model, and to derive implications from the laws: wanting vs. liking, crescendo, recharge periods, variety seeking, and craving. The discussion combines mathematical propositions, experimental findings in psychology, and time-honored wisdom. We discuss how the sixth law, presentism, may lead to incorrect predictions of experienced utility and suboptimal life-balance choices.
  • A. Wieland and R.K. Sarin. (May 2012). Gender Differences in Risk Aversion: When and Why?. [ Download ] [ Show Abstract ]
    It has become well-accepted that women are more risk averse than men. This research investigates when gender differences in risk aversion are likely to occur and when they are less likely to manifest. We find that gender differences in risk aversion are likely to occur in decisions under risk, where the probability of outcomes is known and objectively quantified, such as games of chance, and less likely to occur in decisions under uncertainty, where one must rely on their own internal subjective expectancies of the probabilities of outcomes, the kind of decisions that dominate our day to day decision making. We propose and test the mechanism that is responsible for producing gender differences in risk aversion: one's subjective expectancy of the outcome. In decisions under risk, when subjective expectancies are accounted for, the gender difference in risk aversion disappears; while in decisions under uncertainty, we do not observe any gender differences in risk aversion, but instead find one's subjective expectancies of the outcome to be the only reliable predicator of valuation.
  • Manel Baucells and Rakesh K. Sarin. (June 12, 2007). Happiness and Time Allocation. [ Download ] [ Show Abstract ]
    We consider a resource allocation problem in which time is the principal resource. Utility is derived from time-consuming leisure activities, as well as from consumption. To acquire consumption, time needs to be allocated to income generating activities (i.e., work). Leisure (e.g., social relationships, family and rest) is considered a basic good, and its utility is evaluated using the Discounted Utility Model. Consumption is adaptive and its utility is evaluated using a reference-dependent model. Key empirical findings in the happiness literature can be explained by our time allocation model. Further, we examine the impact of projection bias on time allocation between work and leisure. Projection bias causes individuals to overrate the utility derived from income; consequently, individuals may allocate more than the optimal time to work. This misallocation may produce a scenario in which a higher wage rate results in a lower total utility.
  • Manel Baucells and Rakesh K. Sarin. (February 2, 2007). Does More Money Buy You More Happiness?. [ Download ] [ Show Abstract ]
    Why do we believe that more money will buy us more happiness (when in fact it does not)? In this paper, we propose a model to explain this puzzle. The model incorporates both adaptation and social comparison. A rational person who fully accounts for the dynamics of these factors would indeed buy more happiness with money. We argue that projection bias, the tendency to project into the future our current reference levels, precludes subjects from correctly calculating the utility obtained from consumption. Projection bias has two effects. First, it makes people overrate the happiness that they will obtain from money. Second, it makes people misallocate the consumption budget by consuming too much at the beginning of the planning horizon, or consuming too much of adaptive goods.