Psychological Perspectives on Justice and Inequality

The psychology of scarcity and its implications


Eldar Shafir
William Stewart Todd Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University

September 13, 2016
3:30 to 5:00 pm

Jesse Wrench Auditorium, Memorial Union

map, parking and directions

Free and open to the public

Eldar Shafir is Class of 1987 Professor of Behavioral Science and Public Policy at Princeton University, Director of Princeton’s Center for Behavioral Science and Public Policy, and scientific director at ideas42, a social science R&D lab. His research focuses on cognitive science and behavioral economics, with particular interest in the application of behavioral research to policy. He is Past President of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, and was a member of President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability. Shafir recently received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the William James Book Award. He was named one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013. He edited “The Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy,” and co-authored, “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.” He received his BA from Brown University and his PhD from MIT.


The talk will review recent research concerning the psychology that emerges in contexts of scarcity, and the decisions -- occasionally commendable, often problematic -- that ensue. Some implications for thinking about scarcity (esp. poverty) will be considered, and lessons for policy design and implementation will be discussed

Suggested Readings

Mani, A., Mullainathan, S., Shafir, E, and Zhao, J. (2013). Poverty impedes cognitive function. Science, 341, 976-980. DOI: 10.1126/science.1238041

Shah, A. K., Mullainathan, S., & Shafir, E. (2012). Some consequences of having too little. Science, 338, 682-685. DOI: 10.1126/science.1222426

Hall, C. C., Zhao, J., & Shafir, E. (2014). Self-affirmation among the poor: Cognitive and behavioral implications. Psychological Science, 25(2), 619-625. DOI: 10.1177/0956797613510949

Distinguished Lecture Series Contact:
Jacqueline Chenault, Department of Psychological Science