Russell Golman-Social and Decision Sciences - Carnegie Mellon University

Russell Golman

Assistant Professor

Office: BP 223J
Phone: (412) 268-9861
Fax: (412) 268-6938


My current research projects have me thinking about how firms learn and innovate, how ants and bees make decisions, how people communicate by giving, how fads emerge, how uncertainty may be exciting or uncomfortable, and how curiosity arises.  The common thread is my focus on the behavioral side of game theory and decision theory, my belief that we can explain choices by acknowledging that individual agents may learn or make mistakes and may have motivations beyond their material payoffs.  My interdisciplinary training in mathematical methods applied to the social and behavioral sciences underlies my efforts to model informational preferences, prosocial preferences, learning and boundedly rational behavior. For example, I have used nonlinear differential equations to model adaptive learning in games and incorporated random noise variables to generate strategic choice errors.  Key to my approach here is incorporating heterogeneity and thus taking seriously the fact that people learn or err at different rates and in different ways.  I have also used optimization theory to offer an explanation of perverse patterns of behavior in a variety of contexts, from distorting performance evaluations to avoiding the doctor.  A core insight here is that while such behaviors are indeed counterproductive or even harmful, they may nevertheless be the result of utility maximization.  I have used Poisson branching processes to generate positive feedbacks, which appear as firms innovate or as social insects search and recruit.


Ph.D.: University of Michigan


Loewenstein, George, Cass R. Sunstein and Russell Golman. “Disclosure: Psychology Changes Everything.” Annual Review of Economics, 2014, 6: 391-419.

Bhatia, Sudeep and Russell Golman. “A Recurrent Neural Network for Game Theoretic Decision Making.” Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2014.

Golman, Russell and Sudeep Bhatia. "Performance Evaluation Inflation and Compression," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 37, Issue 8, November 2012, Pages 534–543.

Golman, Russell. "Homogeneity Bias in Models of Discrete Choice with Bounded Rationality." Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 82, Issue 1, April 2012, Pages 1–11.

Golman, Russell. "Quantal Response Equilibria with Heterogeneous Agents," Journal of Economic Theory, 2011.

Golman, Russell. "Why Learning Doesn’t Add Up: Equilibrium Selection with a Composition of Learning Rules," International Journal of Game Theory, 2010.

Golman, Russell and Scott E. Page. "Individual and Cultural Learning in Stag Hunt Games With Multiple Actions," Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2010.

Golman, Russell and Scott E. Page. "Basins of Attraction and Equilibrium Selection Under Different Learning Rules," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 2010.

Golman, Russell and Scott E. Page. "General Blotto: Games of Allocative Strategic Mismatch," Public Choice, 2008.

Current Papers

Golman, Russell, George Loewenstein, and Nikolos Gurney. "Information Gaps for Risk and Ambiguity."

Golman, Russell and George Loewenstein. "An Information-Gap Framework for Capturing Preferences About Uncertainty."

Golman, Russell, David Hagmann, and John Miller. "Polya’s Bees: A Model of Decentralized Decision Making."

Golman, Russell. "Good Manners: Signaling Social Preferences."

Golman, Russell and Steven Klepper.  "Spinoffs and Clustering"

Golman, Russell and George Loewenstein. "Curiosity, Information Gaps, and the Utility of Knowledge"

Bhatia, Sudeep and Russell Golman. "Attention and Reference Dependence"