Celia Gaertig

Celia Gaertig
  • Doctoral Candidate

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    527.7 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    3730 Walnut St.
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: judgment and decision making, consumer behavior, uncertainty, emotions

Links: CV


I am a fourth-year PhD student in the Decision Processes Group. Before coming to Wharton, I completed bachelor’s degrees in Business and Psychology in Germany and worked as a full-time Research Assistant at the Harvard Kennedy School.

In my research, I explore the psychology of judgment and decision-making. Much of my work focuses on understanding how consumers make judgments and decisions in situations that involve uncertainty.

(1) How Does Uncertainty Affect Judgments and Decisions?

Several of my projects focus on understanding how uncertainty affects consumers’ judgments, decisions, and preferences. Here are some of the research questions I have investigated:

  • Do people inherently dislike uncertain advice? (Gaertig & Simmons, 2018, Psych Science)
  • How do people combine multiple pieces of uncertain advice that contain numerical vs. verbal likelihood statements? (Mislavsky & Gaertig, working paper)
  • When are uncertain marketing promotions more or less effective? (Gaertig & Simmons, data collection in progress)

(2) Second Guessing

Recent research suggests that, when making quantitative judgments under uncertainty, averaging two estimates from the same person can improve judgments, an effect dubbed the “wisdom of the inner crowd.” It is not obvious, however, why or when this works. We are examining the conditions under which making a second guess leads to superior judgments (Gaertig & Simmons, working paper).

(3) Extremeness Aversion

People’s estimates of uncertain quantities are influenced by values that they previously considered, a phenomenon known as anchoring. My collaborators and I demonstrate that extremeness aversion is causes people to insufficiently adjust from anchor values (Lewis, Gaertig, & Simmons, under review).

 (4) Additional Projects

I am also interested in understanding how people judge others based on the information they have about them. I have explored these research questions:

  • How does the magnitude of an anger expression influence perceptions of competence and status conferral decisions? (Celia Gaertig, Alixandra Barasch, Emma Levine, & Maurice Schweitzer, working paper)
  • Do people prefer advisors who provide paternalistic advice over those who provide decisional autonomy? (Kassirer, Gaertig, & Levine, data collection in progress)
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  • Celia Gaertig and Joseph Simmons (2017), Do People Inherently Dislike Uncertain Advice?, Psychological Science, Forthcoming.

    Abstract: Research suggests that people prefer confident to uncertain advisors. But do people dislike uncertain advice itself? In eleven studies (N = 4,806), participants forecasted an uncertain event after receiving advice, and then rated the quality of the advice (Studies 1-7, S1-S2) or chose between two advisors (Studies 8-9). Replicating previous research, confident advisors were judged more favorably than advisors who were “not sure.” Importantly, however, participants were not more likely to prefer certain advice: They did not dislike advisors who expressed uncertainty by providing ranges of outcomes, numerical probabilities, or by saying that one event is “more likely” than another. Additionally, when faced with an explicit choice, participants were more likely to choose an advisor who provided uncertain advice over an advisor who provided certain advice. Our findings suggest that people do not inherently dislike uncertain advice. Advisors benefit from expressing themselves with confidence, but not from communicating false certainty.

  • Robert Mislavsky and Celia Gaertig (Work In Progress), 60% + 60% = 60%, but Likely + Likely = Very Likely.

    Abstract: To make optimal decisions, consumers must make accurate predictions about the likelihood of uncertain events. As such, they may solicit opinions from multiple advisors, who can make their own predictions using verbal probabilities (“X is likely”) or numeric probabilities (“There is a 60% chance that X will happen”). Although existing research documents differences in how we process verbal and numeric probabilities in isolation, much less is known about how we integrate multiple probabilities of each type. We find that people primarily average advisors’ numeric probabilities, but when combining verbal probabilities, they make forecasts that are more extreme than each individual advisor’s forecast.

Awards and Honors

  • Wharton Risk Center Russell Ackoff Fellowship, 2015, 2016, 2017
  • SPSP Graduate Student Travel Award, 2017
  • Paul R. Kleindorfer Scholar Award, 2017
  • Winkelman Fellowship, 2016-2019, 2016
  • Marjorie Weiler Prize for Excellence in Writing, 2015
  • Wharton Doctoral Student Travel Grant, 2015
  • Graduate and Professional Student Research Travel Award, University of Pennsylvania, 2014
  • German Academic Exchange Service DAAD Scholarship, 2013
  • Erasmus Program Scholarship, 2010


Latest Research

Celia Gaertig and Joseph Simmons (2017), Do People Inherently Dislike Uncertain Advice?, Psychological Science, Forthcoming.
All Research

Awards and Honors

Wharton Risk Center Russell Ackoff Fellowship, 2015, 2016 2017
All Awards