Faculty & Research

George Wu

George Wu

John P. and Lillian A. Gould Professor of Behavioral Science

George Wu studies the psychology of decision making; goal-setting and motivation; and cognitive biases in bargaining and negotiation. Wu's research has been published widely in a number of journals in economics, management science, and psychology, including Cognitive Psychology, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Management Science, Psychological Science, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. Prof. Wu was also the inaugural faculty director of the Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership.

Prior to joining the Chicago Booth faculty in 1997, Wu was on the faculty of Harvard Business School as an assistant and associate professor in the managerial economics area and then in the negotiation and decision making group. He also has worked as a lecturer at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to graduate school, Wu worked as a decision analyst at Procter Gamble.

Wu is a a former department editor of Management Science and is on numerous other editorial boards, including Decision Analysis, Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, and Theory and Decision. He earned a bachelor's degree cum laude in applied mathematics with a concentration in decision and control in 1985, a master's degree in applied mathematics in 1987, and a PhD in decision sciences in 1991, all from Harvard.

Wu was honored as the 2020 recipient of the Chicago Urban League’s Humanitarian Award. You may read more about the award and the program here. He also received the Class of 2020 Emory Williams Award for Excellence in Teaching.


2020 - 2021 Course Schedule

Number Title Quarter
38105 Advanced Negotiations 2021  (Spring)
38601 Workshop in Behavioral Science 2021  (Winter)
38913 Foundations of Judgment and Decision Making 2021  (Winter)


Other Interests

Running, travel, ethnic food.


Research Activities

Decision making under risk and uncertainty; behavioral decision making; negotiation.

With Nathanael Fast and Chip Heath, “Common Ground and Cultural Prominence: How Conversation Strengthens Culture,” Psychological Science (2009).

With Richard Larrick, "Claiming a large slice of a small pie: Asymmetric Disconfirmation in Negotiation," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2007).

With Uri Gneezy and John List, "The Uncertainty Effect: When a risky prospect is valued less than its worst possible outcome," Quarterly Journal of Economics (2006).

With Cade Massey, "Detecting Regime Shifts: The Causes of Over- and Underreaction," Management Science (2005).

With Richard Gonzalez, "On the Shape of the Probability Weighting Function," Cognitive Psychology (1999).

For a listing of research publications, please visit the university library listing page.

REVISION: Learning to Detect Change
Date Posted: Nov  25, 2014
People, across a wide range of personal and professional domains, need to detect change accurately. Previous research has documented systematic shortcomings in doing so, in particular, a pattern of over- and under-reaction to indications of change, resulting from a tendency to overweight signals of change at the expense of the environment that produces the signals. This investigation considers whether this pattern persists when participants are given the opportunity to learn. We find that the pattern of system neglect does persist, but that the impact of experience varies greatly across environments -- participants show reliable improvement in some conditions and virtually none in others. We explain this differential learning by formally characterizing environments in terms of the extent to which they: (i) provide consistent feedback; and (ii) tolerate non-optimal behavior. Whereas we find that learning is related to consistent feedback, the stronger -- and perhaps more surprising -- ...

REVISION: Incorporating Behavioral Anomalies in Strategic Models
Date Posted: Jul  25, 2013
Behavioral decision researchers have documented a number of anomalies that seem to run counter to established theories of consumer behavior from microeconomics that are often at the core of analytical models in marketing. A natural question therefore is how equilibrium behavior and strategies would change if models were to incorporate these anomalies in a consistent way. In this paper we identify several important and generalizable anomalies that modelers may want to incorporate in their models.

New: Comment on 'Obliquity' (by John Kay)
Date Posted: Apr  11, 2013
No abstract available.

Detecting Regime Shifts: The Causes of Under- and Over-Reaction
Date Posted: Apr  01, 2008
Many decision makers operate in dynamic environments, in which markets, competitors, and technology change regularly. The ability to detect and respond to these regime shifts is critical for economic success. We conduct three experiments to test how effective individuals are at detecting such regime shifts. Specifically, we investigate when individuals are most likely to under-react to change and when they are most likely to over-react to it. We develop a system-neglect hypothesis: ...

New: Claiming a Large Slice of a Small Pie: Asymmetric Disconfirmation in Negotiation
Date Posted: Mar  10, 2006
Three studies show that negotiators consistently underestimate the size of the bargaining zone in distributive negotiations (the small pie bias) and, by implication, overestimate the share of the surplus they claim (the large slice bias). We explain the results by asymmetric disconfirmation: Negotiators with initial estimates of their counterpart's reservation price that are "inside" the bargaining zone tend to behave consistently with these estimates, which become self-fulfilling, whereas ...