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

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 associate professor at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and she has a secondary appointment as an associate professor at the Perelman School of Medicine. 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

Research

Research


  • Bradford Tuckfield, Berkeley Dietvorst, Katherine L. Milkman, Maurice Schweitzer (Under Revision), Quitting: The Downside of Great Expectations in Competitions.
  • Jonah Berger, Katherine L. Milkman (2014), The Science of Sharing and the Sharing of Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  
  • Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Bradley R. Staats, David Hofmann (2014), 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, In Press.  
  • Bradley R. Staats, Hengchen Dai, David Hofmann, Katherine L. Milkman (Under Revision), Process Compliance and Electronic Monitoring: Empirical Evidence from Hand Hygiene in Healthcare.
  • 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 Revision), Put Your Imperfections Behind You: Why and How Meaningful Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior.  Abstract
  • Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, Payne John (Forthcoming), A User’s Guide to Debiasing.
  • 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.
  • John Beshears, James J. Choi, David Laibson, Brigitte C. Madrian, Katherine L. Milkman (2014), The Effect of Peer Information on Retirement Savings Decisions, The Journal of Finance
  • Katherine L. Milkman, Modupe Akinola, Dolly Chugh (Under Review), What Happens Before? A Field Experiment Exploring How Pay and Representation Differentially Shape Bias on the Pathway into Organizations.  Abstract
  • 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.
  • Todd Rogers, Katherine L. Milkman, Leslie John, Mike Norton (Under Review), Making The Best Laid Plans Better: How Plan-Making Increases Follow-Through.    Abstract
  • 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 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  
  • 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
  • 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, 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, 2015
  • 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

In The News

Knowledge @ Wharton

Courses

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.

  • OPIM299 - JUDG & DEC MAKING RES IM: JUDGMENT AND DECISION MAKING RESEARCH IMMERSION - 0.5CU

    This class provides a high-level introduction to the field of judgment and decision making (JDM) and in-depth exposure to the process of doing research in this area. Throughout the semester you will gain hands-on experience with several different JDM research projects. You will be paired with a PhD student or faculty mentor who is working on a variety of different research studies. Each week you will be given assignments that are central to one or more of these studies, and you will be given detailed descriptions of the research projects you are contributing to and how your assignments relate to the successful completion of these projects. To complement your hands-on research experience, throughout the semester you will be assigned readings from the book Nudge by Thaler and Sunstein, which summarizes key recent ideas in the JDM literature. You will also meet as a group for an hour once every three weeks with the class's faculty supervisor and all of his or her PhD students to discuss the projects you are working on, to discuss the class readings, and to discuss your own research ideas stimulated by getting involved in various projects. Date and time to be mutually agreed upon by supervising faculty and students. the 1CU version of this course will involve approx. 10 hours of research immersion per week and a 10-page paper. The

  • 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.