Photo of Katherine L. Milkman

Katherine L. Milkman

Associate Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions

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

Links: CV, Personal Website, Wharton People Analytics

Contact Information

Address: 3730 Walnut Street, 566 Jon M. Huntsman Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-573-9646


Katherine Milkman is an associate professor at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, she has a secondary appointment as an associate professor at the Perelman School of Medicine, and she is the co-director of Wharton People Analytics. 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. (Watch Katherine give a 5-minute presentation about her research on motivating exercise.)

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. (See a presentation about what types of science stories spread.)

Katherine is the recent recipient of an early career award from the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences, and when under 30, Milkman was named one of the world’s top 40 business school professors under 40 by Poets and Quants.  Her over two dozen articles in leading social science journals such as Management Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and The Journal of Finance have reached a wide audience through multiple op-eds in The New York Times and frequent coverage in major media outlets such as NPR, The Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, and Forbes. She is the author of two of the 800 most downloaded papers (out of 500,000) on the Social Science Research Network and 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 received numerous awards for her ability to communicate ideas to students. She is a recipient of the excellence in teaching award for the Wharton undergraduate division, was voted Wharton's “Iron Prof” by the school’s MBA students for a PechaKucha-style presentation of her research, and was one of ten finalists in 2014 and 2015 for the Anvil Award for Wharton’s most outstanding MBA teacher.

She 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.

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.

Twitter: @Katy_Milkman



  • Katherine L. Milkman (2016), Can Preparing for Failure Reduce the Probability of Success?, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 135, 1 - 9.
  • John Beshears, Katherine L. Milkman, Joshua Schwartzstein (2016), Beyond Beta-Delta: The Emerging Economics of Personal Plans, American Economic Review Papers & Proceedings  
  • Bradley Staats, Hengchen Dai, David Hofmann, Katherine L. Milkman (2016), Motivating Process Compliance through Electronic Monitoring: The Benefits and Limitations of Electronic Monitoring on Hand Hygiene in Healthcare, Management Science  
  • Katherine L. Milkman, Todd Rogers (2016), Reminders Through Association, Psychological Science  
  • Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, John Payne, "Outsmart Your Own Biases" in Harvard Business Review.
  • Shlomo Benartzi, John Beshears, Katherine L. Milkman, Cass Sunstein, Richard H Thaler, Maya Shankar, Will Tucker, William J. Congdon, Steven Galing (Working), Should Governments Invest More in Nudges?.
  • John Beshears, Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Shlomo Benartzi (Working), The Explicit and Implicit Messages Embedded in Choice Architecture Designs: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Retirement Savings.
  • Edward Chang, Katherine L. Milkman, Dolly Chugh, Modupe Akinola (Working), Threshold Effects May Limit Gender Diversity in Groups, As Evidenced by ‘Twokenism’ on U.S. Corporate Boards.
  • Jihae Shin, Katherine L. Milkman (2016), How backup plans can harm goal pursuit: The unexpected downside of being prepared for failure, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 135.  
  • Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, John Payne, "A User’s Guide to Debiasing". In Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Judgment and Decision Making, edited by Gideon Keren, (2016), 924 - 951.
  • Katherine L. Milkman, John Beshears, Hengchen Dai, Shlomo Benartzi (Under Review), Framing the Future: The Risks of Pre-Commitment Nudges and Potential of Fresh Start Messaging.
  • Todd Rogers, Katherine L. Milkman, Leslie John, Michael Norton (2015), Beyond good intentions: Prompting people to make plans improves follow-through on important tasks, Behavioral Science & Policy, 1 (2), 33 - 41.  
  • Katherine L. Milkman, J. B. Kessler, C. Yiwei Zhang (Working), Social Recognition in Charitable Giving: In Pursuit of Perfection.
  • Katherine L. Milkman, J. B. Kessler (Under Revision), Identity in Charitable Giving.
  • John Beshears, James J. Choi, David Laibson, Brigitte C. Madrian, Katherine L. Milkman (2015), The Effect of Providing Peer Information on Retirement Savings Decisions, The Journal of Finance, 70 (3), 1161 - 1201.    Abstract
  • Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, David Hofmann, Bradley Staats (2015), The Impact of Time at Work and Time off from Work on Rule Compliance: The Case of Hand Hygiene in Healthcare, Journal of Applied Psychology, 100 (3), 846 - 862.  
  • Brad Bitterly, Robert Mislavsky, Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, "Want-Should Conflict: A Synthesis of Past Research". In The Psychology of Desire, edited by Wilhelm Hofmann, Loran Nordgren, (2015), 244 - 264.  
  • Hengchen Dai, Berkeley Dietvorst, Katherine L. Milkman, Maurice Schweitzer, Bradford Tuckfield (Under Revision), Quitting: The Downside of Great Expectations.
  • Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014), The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior, Management Science, 60 (10), 2563 - 2582.    Abstract
  • Dolly Chugh, Katherine L. Milkman, Modupe Akinola, "Professors are Prejudiced, Too" in The New York Times.
  • Todd Rogers, Katherine L. Milkman, Kevin Volpp (2014), Commitment Devices: Using Initiatives to Change Behavior, Journal of the American Medical Association, 311 (20), 2065 - 2066.
  • Todd Rogers, Katherine L. Milkman, Kevin Volpp (2014), Commitment Devices to Improve Unhealthy Behaviors: In Reply, Journal of the American Medical Association, 312 (15), 1592 - 1593.  
  • Katherine L. Milkman, Jonah Berger (2014), The Science of Sharing and the Sharing of Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 13642 - 13649.
  • 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.  
  • Laura Huang, Katherine L. Milkman, Maurice Schweitzer (Under Revision), 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  
  • 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
  • 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

  • Excellence in Teaching Award for the Undergraduate Division at Wharton, 2016
  • Elected Faculty Marshal for Wharton MBA Class of 2015, 2015
  • Excellence in Teaching Award for the Undergraduate Division at Wharton, 2015
  • Society for Judgment and Decision Making FABBS Early Career Award Winner, 2015
  • Marketing Science Institute Young Scholar, 2015
  • Finalist for the Anvil Award for the Most Outstanding MBA Teacher at Wharton, 2015
  • SSRN Honor: Author of One of the 10 Most Downloaded Papers of the Year, 2014
  • Finalist for the Anvil Award for the Most Outstanding MBA Teacher at Wharton, 2014
  • Finalist for the Paul E. Green Award for the Best 2012 Journal of Marketing Research Article, 2013
  • Dorinda and Mark Winkelman Distinguished Scholar Award, 2012
  • The Wyss Award from Harvard Business School for Excellence in Doctoral Research, 2008
  • The Lore von Jaskowsky Memorial Prize in Engineering from Princeton University, 2004
  • The Willard Thorp Thesis Prize in American Studies from Princeton University, 2004
  • Omega Rho Undergraduate Project Research Award from INFORMS, 2004

In The News

Knowledge @ Wharton



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