Professor of Behavioral Economics and Strategy
UCLA Anderson School of Management

Contact Information:
UCLA Anderson School of Management
110 Westwood Plaza
Entrepreneurs Hall, Suite C513
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
(310) 825-7348 (office)
Office hours:
See Syllabus

Keith Chen is a Professor of Behavioral Economics at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. His research blurs traditional disciplinary boundaries in both subject and methodology, bringing unorthodox tools to bear on problems at the intersection of Economics, Psychology, and Biology.

In early work examining the evolutionary origins of economic behavior, he has shown that when monkeys are taught to use money, they display many of the hallmark biases of human economic behavior, suggesting that some of our most fundamental biases are evolutionarily ancient. Professor Chen's most recent work focuses on how people's economic choices are influenced by the structure of their language. His work has shown that how a person's language encodes future events influences future-oriented behaviors as diverse as saving, smoking, and safe sex.

Professor Chen also advises numerous companies on topics at the intersection of behavioral economics, business strategy, and dynamic pricing. Most recently he was the Head of Economic Research for Uber, where among other projects he designed Uber's current "Surge" pricing model.

Research Interests: Behavioral Economics and Microeconomic Theory

Some Recent Papers:

Nursing Home Staff Networks and COVID-19
Joint with Judy Chevalier and Elisa F. Long
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jan 5th, 2021

Causal Estimation of Stay-at-Home Orders on SARS-CoV-2 Transmission
Joint with Yilin Zhuo, Malena de la Fuente, Ryne Rohla, and Elisa F. Long

Racial Disparities in Voting Wait Times: Evidence from Smartphone Data
Joint with Kareem Haggag, Devin G. Pope, and Ryne Rohla; conditionally accepted:  RESTAT

Political Storms: Tracking Hurricane Evacuation Behavior using Smartphone Data
Joint with Elisa Long and Ryne Rhola
Published in Science Advances, September 2020

The Effect of Partisanship and Political Advertising on Close Family Ties (or the final published version here)
Joint with Ryne Rohla
Published in Science, June 2018
Awarded a Nature: Editor's Choice. Additional analyses and tables are in the supplementary materials, data and code are here, and full-size graphics and slides are here.

You can read and hear a bit about this work on political polarization here:


Thanksgiving Got Shorter After the 2016 Election, Study Says. You Can Guess Why.
The New York Times, May 31st, 2018

Trump's election and political ads shortened 2016 Thanksgiving dinners, researchers say
The Washington Post, May 31st, 2018

Thanksgiving Dinner Can End Sooner If Guests Pass the Gravy across a Partisan Divide
Scientific American, June 1st, 2018


Smartphone tracking data reveals that the 2016 election season spoiled Thanksgiving
PBS News Hour, May 31st, 2018

Did Trump ruin Thanksgiving? Study shows 2016 election split families
NBC News, May 31st, 2018

Trump election shortens US Thanksgiving family dinners
BBC News, June 1st, 2018

The Value of Flexible Work: Evidence from Uber Drivers
Joint with Judith Chevalier, Peter Rossi, and Emily Oehlsen
Published in the Journal of Political Economy, December 2019

Dynamic Pricing in a Labor Market: Surge Pricing and Flexible Work on the Uber Platform
Joint with Michael Sheldon

You can read and hear a bit about my work at Uber here:


Hidden Brain: This is Your Brain on Uber
National Public Radio, Hidden Brain Podcast, May 17th, 2016

The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets
Published in the American Economic Review, April 2013

You can read about this paper in these recent articles:


Could Your Language Affect Your Ability to Save Money?
TED, Feb 2013


Economics: Marshmallows and Rösti(graben)
Science, January 4th, 2013

Obese? Smoker? No Retirement Savings? Perhaps It's Because of the Language You Speak
Big Think, February 5th, 2012

Tomorrow, We Save
Foreign Policy, Sept/Oct 2012


How Your Language Affects Your Wealth and Health
Scientific American, March 19th, 2013


Can Your Language Influence Your Spending, Eating, and Smoking Habits?
The Atlantic, September 10th, 2013

Are Women Overinvesting in Education? Evidence from the Medical Profession
Joint with Judith Chevalier
Published in the Journal of Human Capital

You can read about this paper in these recent articles:

  Is Medical School a Worthwhile Investment for Women?
The Atlantic, July 23rd, 2012
The average female primary-care physician would have been financially better off becoming a physician assistant...

Economists Show Primary Care Especially Unrewarding for Women Doctors
Forbes, July 16th, 2012
According to a new study... most women primary-care doctors would almost certainly have been better off financially had they become physician assistants...

How Choice Affects and Reflects Preferences: Revisiting the Free-Choice Paradigm
Joint with Jane Risen
Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

You can read about this paper in a recent article:

  And Behind Door No. 1, a Fatal Flaw
The New York Times, April 8th, 2008
The Monty Hall Problem has struck again, and this time it's not merely embarrassing mathematicians. If the calculations of a Yale economist are correct, there’s a sneaky logical fallacy in some of the most famous experiments in psychology...