Photo of Katherine L. Milkman

Katherine L. Milkman

James G. Campbell, Jr. Assistant Professor of Operations and Information Management

Research Interests: experimental economics, behavioral decision making, behavioral economics

Links: CV, Personal Website

Contact Information

Address: 3730 Walnut Street, 566 Jon M. Huntsman Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Email: kmilkman@wharton.upenn.edu
Office: 215-573-9646

Overview

Katherine Milkman is an Assistant Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research relies heavily on "big data" to document various ways in which individuals systematically deviate from making optimal choices. Her work has paid particular attention to the question of what factors produce self-control failures (e.g., undersaving for retirement, exercising too little, eating too much junk food) and how to reduce the incidence of such failures. To watch Katherine give a 5-minute presentation about her research on motivating exercise, click here. She has also explored race and gender discrimination, focusing on how a decision's context can alter the manifestation of bias. And, she has examined what types of stories are published in The New Yorker as well as what New York Times stories and science stories are most widely shared (to see a presentation about what types of science stories spread, click here).

Katherine has published nearly two dozen articles in leading social science journals such as Management Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Psychological Science. She is also an Associate Editor for the Behavioral Economics Department at Management Science and a member of the Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes Editorial Board.

Katherine has worked with numerous companies on research and/or consulting including Evive Health, Quickflix, Google, the American Red Cross, Cummins Engines, Wipro, HelloWallet, and StickK. In addition, her work has been featured by media outlets such as The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, BusinessWeek, The Economist, NPR, and Harvard Business Review. In 2013, John Tierney of the New York Times referred to her findings with Jonah Berger exploring what type of news is most shared online as "the most important social-science discovery of the past century" in his weekly Times column.*

In 2011, Katherine was recognized as one of the top 40 business school professors under 40 by Poets and Quants, and in 2013 she was voted Wharton's "Iron Prof" by the school's MBA students.

Katherine received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University (summa cum laude) in Operations Research and Financial Engineering and her Ph.D. from Harvard University's joint program in Computer Science and Business.

She is a member and co-founder of the OPIM Decision Processes Lab Group at Wharton.

*Tierney, J. (2013).  "Good News Spreads Faster on Twitter and Facebook."  The New York Times, March 13, 2013.

Twitter: @Katy_Milkman

Research


  • Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014), The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior, Management Science, Forthcoming.    Abstract
  • Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (Under Review), Put Your Imperfections Behind You: Why and How Meaningful Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior.    Abstract
  • Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, David Hofmann, Bradley R. Staats (Under Revision), The Impact of Time at Work and Time off from Work on Rule Compliance: The Case of Hand Hygiene in Healthcare.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman, Modupe Akinola, Dolly Chugh (Under Review), Discrimination is Not Evenly Distributed: A Field Experiment in Academia.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman, Jonah Berger (Under Review), The Science of Sharing and the Sharing of Science.
  • Todd Rogers, Katherine L. Milkman, Leslie John, Mike Norton (Under Review), Making The Best Laid Plans Better: How Plan-Making Increases Follow-Through.    Abstract
  • Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, Payne John (Under Review), A User’s Guide to Debiasing.  
  • Theresa F Kelly, Katherine L. Milkman, "Escalation of Commitment". In Encyclopedia of Management Theory, edited by Eric H Kessler, (2013), 257 - 260.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman, J. Beshears, J.J. Choi, D. Laibson, B.C. Madrian (2013), Planning Prompts as a Means of Increasing Preventive Screening Rates, Preventive Medicine, 56, 92 - 93.
  • Kathleen L McGinn, Katherine L. Milkman (2012), Looking Up and Looking Out: Career Mobility Effects of Demographic Similarity among Professionals, Organization Science    Abstract
  • Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, John Beshears, James J. Choi, David Laibson and Brigitte Madrian (2012). “Planning Prompts as a Means of Increasing Rates of Immunization and Preventive Screening.” Public Policy & Aging Report, Vol. 22, No. 4, 16-19.  
  • Katherine L. Milkman, Laura Huang, Maurice Schweitzer (Under Review), Teetering between Cooperation and Competition: How Subtle Cues Unexpectedly Derail Coopetitive Workplace Relationships.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman, Modupe Akinola, Dolly Chugh (2012), Temporal Distance and Discrimination: An Audit Study in Academia, Psychological Science    Abstract
  • Bradley R. Staats, Katherine L. Milkman, Craig R. Fox (2012), The Team Scaling Fallacy: Underestimating the Declining Efficiency of Larger Teams, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes  
  • Jonah Berger (MKTG), Katherine L. Milkman (2012), What Makes Online Content Viral?, Journal of Marketing Research  
  • Katherine L. Milkman, Mary Carol Mazza, Lisa L. Shu, Chia-Jung Tsay, Max H. Bazerman (2012), Policy Bundling to Overcome Loss Aversion: A Method for Improving Legislative Outcomes, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 117, 158 - 167.    Abstract
  • J. Beshears, J.J. Choi, D. Laibson, B.C. Madrian, Katherine L. Milkman (Under Review), The Effect of Peer Information on Retirement Savings Decisions.
  • Katherine L. Milkman (2012), Unsure What the Future Will Bring? You May Over-Indulge: Uncertainty Increases the Appeal of Wants over Shoulds, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 119, 163 - 176.    Abstract
  • Kathleen McGinn, Katherine L. Milkman, Markus Noth (2012), Walking the Talk in Multiparty Bargaining: An Experimental Investigation, Journal of Economic Psychology, 33, 278 - 291.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman, John Beshears, James J. Choi, David Laibson, Brigitte C. Madrian (2011), Using Implementation Intentions Prompts to Enhance Influenza Vaccination Rates, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 10415 - 10420.    Abstract
  • J. Beshears, Katherine L. Milkman (2011), Do Sell-Side Stock Analysts Exhibit Escalation of Commitment?, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 77, 304 - 317.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman, T. Rogers, M.H. Bazerman (2010), I'll have the Ice Cream Soon and the Vegetables Later: A Study of Online Grocery Purchases and Order Lead Time, Marketing Letters, 21 (1), 17 - 36.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman, D. Chugh, M.H. Bazerman (2009), How Can Decision Making Be Improved?, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4 (4), 379 - 383.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman, J. Beshears (2009), Mental Accounting and Small Windfalls: Evidence from an Online Grocer, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 71 (2), 384 - 394.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman, T. Rogers, M.H. Bazerman (2009), Highbrow Films Gather Dust: Timeinconsistent Preferences and Online DVD Rentals, Management Science, 55 (6), 1047 - 1059.    Abstract
  • J.M. Martin, J. Beshears, Katherine L. Milkman, M.H. Bazerman, L. Sutherland (2009), Modeling Expert Opinions on Food Healthiness: A Nutrition Metric, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109 (6), 1088 - 1091.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman (2008), Forethought: Tapping Consumers’ Desire for ‘Shoulds, Harvard Business Review, 86 (8), 22.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman, T. Rogers, M.H. Bazerman (2008), Harnessing Our Inner Angels and Demons: What We Have Learned about Want/Should Conflicts and How That Knowledge Can Help Us Reduce Short-Sighted Decision Making, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3 (4), 324 - 338.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman, J. Burns, D.C. Parkes, G. Barron, K. Tumer (2008), Testing a Purportedly More Learnable Auction Mechanism, Applied Economics Research Bulletin, 2, 106 - 141.    Abstract
  • Katherine L. Milkman, R. Carmona, W. Gleason (2007), A Statistical Analysis of Editorial Influence and Author-Character Similarities in 1990s New Yorker Fiction, Journal of Literary and Linguistic Computing, 22, 305 - 328.    Abstract

Awards And Honors

In The News

Courses

Current

  • OPIM290 - Decision Processes

    This course is an intensive introduction to various scientific perspectives on the processes through which people make decisions. Perspectives covered include cognitive psychology of human problem-solving, judgment and choice, theories of rational judgment and decision, and the mathematical theory of games. Much of the material is technically rigorous. Prior or current enrollment in STAT 101 or the equivalent, although not required, is strongly recommended.

    OPIM290001  ( Syllabus

  • OPIM690 - Managerial Decision Making

    There has been increasing interest in recent years as to how managers make decisions when there is uncertainty regarding the value or likelihood of final outcomes. What type of information do they collect? How do they process the data? What factors influence the decisions? This course will address these issues. By understanding managerial decision processes we may be better able to prescribe ways of improving managerial behavior. Building on recent work in cognitive psychology, students will gain an understanding of the simplified rules of thumb and apparent systematic biases that individuals utilize in making judgments and choices under uncertainty. At the end of the course, students should understand the decision making process more thoroughly and be in a position to become a better manager.

    MGMT690401 

    MGMT690402 

    OPIM690401  ( Syllabus

    OPIM690402  ( Syllabus

Previous

  • OPIM290 - Decision Processes

    This course is an intensive introduction to various scientific perspectives on the processes through which people make decisions. Perspectives covered include cognitive psychology of human problem-solving, judgment and choice, theories of rational judgment and decision, and the mathematical theory of games. Much of the material is technically rigorous. Prior or current enrollment in STAT 101 or the equivalent, although not required, is strongly recommended.

  • OPIM690 - Managerial Decision Making

    There has been increasing interest in recent years as to how managers make decisions when there is uncertainty regarding the value or likelihood of final outcomes. What type of information do they collect? How do they process the data? What factors influence the decisions? This course will address these issues. By understanding managerial decision processes we may be better able to prescribe ways of improving managerial behavior. Building on recent work in cognitive psychology, students will gain an understanding of the simplified rules of thumb and apparent systematic biases that individuals utilize in making judgments and choices under uncertainty. At the end of the course, students should understand the decision making process more thoroughly and be in a position to become a better manager.