Professor Danny Oppenheimer’s research focuses on human decision-making, with a particular emphasis on understanding what information people attend to when making decisions. He has also conducted studies in the areas of psychometric assessment, charitable giving, people’s understanding of randomness/stochastic systems and the psychological underpinnings of democracy.
Oppenheimer has authored over 45 peer-reviewed journal articles and three books: Democracy Despite Itself: Why a System that Shouldn’t Work at All Works So Well (2012); The Science of Giving: Experimental Approaches to the Study of Charity (2010); and The Cartoon Guide to Psychology (2017).
Prior to becoming a faculty member of the behavioral decision making group, Oppenheimer was jointly appointed in psychology and public affairs at Princeton University from 2004 to 2012. His research has been widely reported in mainstream media outlets, including the Economist, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, PBS, Nature News, Fox News and Glamour Magazine, and has garnered awards from the Society of Judgment and Decision Making, the European Association for Decision Making and the Cognitive Science Society. He has also won grants and/or fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Spencer Foundation and Hewlett Foundation.
In 2006, Oppenheimer was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize in Literature, which recognizes “achievements that first make people LAUGH, then make them THINK.” The title of his paper, “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly,” spoofed overcomplicated academic prose, but the article showed that clear, simple writing makes authors appear more intelligent than complex phrasing does. “I really enjoy the challenge of taking a complex topic and figuring out a way to present and explain it so that it makes sense to students who haven’t seen it before,” he says. “There is nothing quite so rewarding as when a lesson plan you’ve developed works the way you’d envisioned, and you get to observe the students master the material.”
In 2015, Oppenheimer received the Citibank Teaching Award, one of the top teaching honors at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Also in 2015, Oppenheimer was named among Poets & Quants’ Best 40 Professors Under 40.
Oppenheimer is an avid fan of volleyball, chocolate chip cookies and corny puns.
Ph.D. Psychology, 2004, Stanford University
M.A. Psychology, 2003, Stanford University
B.A. Psychology (Cum Laude), 2000, Rice University