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Director, Center for Adaptive Rationality, Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Ralph is a cognitive psychologist and behavioral decision scientists. He is the director of the
Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in
Berlin. His research examines models of bounded rationality such as simple heuristics, the
importance of learning and decisions from experience, the measurement of risk preferences,
and ways to change people’s behavior for the better by boosting their cognitive and
motivational competences in the online and offline world.

He has published about 300 scholarly articles and chapters. His research regularly appears in
journals such as Psychological Review, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Psychological Bulletin,
Trends in Cognitive Science, Psychological Science, Nature Human Behaviour, and PNAS (See for a complete
list of scientific publications). He has co-authored and edited four books (most recently,
Deliberate ignorance: Choosing not to know, MIT Press).

He is the recipient of awards and honors such as the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize,
Germany’s most prestigious research award. As member of the German National Academy
of Sciences Leopoldina, he has been involved in providing independent scientific advice to
the German government on obesity and the COVID-19 pandemic. He is a member of the
expert panel advising the German government on the coronavirus pandemic, the acatech –
National Academy of Science and Engineering, and of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of
Sciences and Humanities.

Author photograph by Arne Sattler.


  • –present
    Director, Centre for Adaptive Rationality, Max Planck Institute for Human Development