Chapman to Head Department of Social and Decision Sciences
By Stacy Kish
Carnegie Mellon University has appointed Gretchen Chapman to head the Department of Social and Decision Sciences beginning July 1.
“Gretchen’s research investigates judgment and decision making in the context of health, an area which could not be more relevant during a pandemic that has been affected by vaccine hesitancy, mask mandate resistance and massive misinformation campaigns,” said Richard Scheines, Bess Family Dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at CMU. “Not only is she a top scholar in a field that has deep roots at CMU, but she is also an excellent administrator and capable leader. I was delighted when we hired her four years ago from Rutgers, and I’m delighted now that I convinced her to become head of SDS. Her expertise and leadership will ensure the department remains at the cutting edge of the field and receives the recognition it rightly deserves.”
Dr. Chapman is taking over from Professor Linda Babcock, who headed the Department from AY2015-16 through the fall of 2020.
“Linda is an amazing colleague,” said Scheines, “She not only did a phenomenal job heading the Department, but she also made major contributions to the university, in particular in pushing us toward better gender equity and better policies and practices in all aspects of DEI. She is also a great person.”
Chapman, a professor in social and decision sciences, joined the Dietrich College in 2017. She has focused her research on the psychological processes that underly how people make decisions. Her research team uses judgement, decision-making and behavioral economics to examine health, social and intertemporal behaviors and policy decisions.
“I have always been a huge fan of social and decisional sciences,” said Chapman. “I was thrilled when I got to make it my job when I joined Carnegie Mellon four years ago. To be head of this department now is a huge honor.”
Chapman regularly shares her expertise with the media to illuminate the factors that influence many of the decisions that we make, which has been particularly timely during the pandemic.
“Decision Sciences is an incredibly important and interesting field, and I want people from all walks of life to know about it,” said Chapman. “The study of decision making can shed light on many applicable organization and policy issues.”
In her conversations with the media, she has addressed vaccine acceptance, vaccination incentives, masking behaviors and other pandemic topics. She has been quoted in national media outlets, including The Washington Post, National Public Radio and The New York Times, as well as local media, including Penn Today, WESA, Pittsburgh and WFMZ, Philadelphia.
Chapman was previously the department chair of Psychology and acting co-director of the Center for Cognitive Science at Rutgers University. She is the recipient of an American Psychological Association (APA) early career award, the New Jersey Psychological Association Distinguished Research Award and a recipient of 20 years of continuous external funding. She is a fellow of the APA and the Association for Psychological Science. In addition, Chapman is the former senior editor at Psychological Science, as well as the past president of the Society for Judgment & Decision Making. She has authored more than 120 scholarly journal articles.
“The Department of Social & Decision Sciences is one of the pre-eminent units for decision research in the country and the world,” said Chapman. “We have fewer constraints on how we pursue decision research because we are in an arts & sciences college, whereas other universities this type of research is usually found in a business school. I want to preserve that excellence.”