Daniel Gilbert Profile

Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert is famous for his intriguing research on how humans often misjudge what will make them happy and his animated way of presenting his findings to the public. A three-time TED speaker, his first TED talk on “The Surprising Science of Happiness” still remains one of the 15 most viewed TED talks of all time.

Gilbert’s award-winning best-seller Stumbling on Happiness has been translated into over 30 languages. He’s taken his leading-edge social psychology research on emotions and affective forecasting to a PBS series, The Today Show, Charlie Rose, 20/20, and The Colbert Report. In 2013, Gilbert teamed up with Prudential to do a series of television commercials to encourage Americans to plan for their futures and save for retirement. This advertising campaign has been one of the most successful in the history of the financial services industry.

In 2014, Science magazine named him one of the world’s 50 most-followed scientists on social media. Gilbert is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Time, and NPR’s All Things Considered. He continues to conduct original studies at his Hedonic Psychology Laboratory at Harvard.

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    According to The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Gilbert is a world-renowned authority on how people predict their emotional reactions to future events. He is the author of the national bestseller Stumbling on Happiness, which spent 25 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has being translated into 30 languages, and was awarded the Royal Society’s General Prize for best science book of the year. Time magazine called it “Fascinating,” The New York Times called it “Brilliant,” and Bloomberg News called it “the only truly useful book on psychology I’ve ever read.” Daniel’s groundbreaking research on how people make judgments, choices and decisions lies at the intersection of psychology and behavioral economics.

    Gilbert is a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He has won numerous awards for his research, including the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. He is the co-editor of The Handbook of Social Psychology and a co-author of the college textbook Psychology. In 2008 he was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and

    In addition to being a leading scientist and best-selling author, Gilbert is also an award winning teacher. He has received the President’s Associates Teaching Award and the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, and year after year he is chosen by Harvard’s graduating seniors as one of the university’s Most Outstanding Professors.

    Gilbert is also a public intellectual. A regular contributor to The New York Times, has written for Time and Forbes, has been a guest on The Today Show, Charlie Rose, 20/20, and The Colbert Report, and is the host of the new PBS television series Secrets of Happiness.

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Daniel Gilbert's Speech Descriptions

Equally as fascinating as Daniel Gilbert’s research is his style of presenting it. The award-winning psychologist interweaves dry humor and pop culture into his compelling examinations of how we often get in our own way when it comes to making decisions and pursuing happiness. Drawing from the latest studies in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics, he strips away the misconceptions and illusions we have regarding time, our identities, and our desires, showing us how to avoid common errors so that we can choose and navigate the paths that will actually bring us greater happiness.

How To Do Precisely the Right Thing At All Possible Times
Floss daily, save for retirement, and don’t wear plaid pants before or after Labor Day. Most experts tell us what to decide but they don’t tell us how, and so the moment we face a novel decision—should I move to Cleveland or Anchorage? Marry Jennifer or Joanne? Become an architect or a pastry chef—we’re lost. Is there any way to know how to precisely the right thing at all possible times? In fact, there is a simple method for making decisions that most people find easy to understand and impossible to follow. New research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics explains why.

Stumbling on Happiness
Daniel Gilbert believes that most of us are pursuing happiness with the wrong map. Just as optical illusions fool our eyes, Gilbert’s award-winning research shows that our brains systematically mispredict what will make us happy. His work has had a profound influence in psychology, behavioral economics, law, and medicine. The message is original, but it his delivery that sets him apart. His quick, engaging, and often hilarious style of writing and speaking explains why he was chosen to host the new PBS televisions series Secrets of Happiness and why his book Stumbling on Happiness spent 25 weeks on The New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 30 languages.

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“Dan was a delight to work with from the time of his arrival to his departure. I’ve appreciated working with you over the years…bringing the best speakers to SHRM audiences. I look forward to a repeat of the same in 2012.”
    Society for Human Resource Management

“We have gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback about the conference, and our success was due in large part to your participation and expertise on a program that was both highly educational and incredibly entertaining.”
    Insured Retirement Institute

“Dr. Gilbert was great – a very interesting and entertaining speaker!”
    J.P. Morgan Asset Management

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Books by Daniel Gilbert:


Stumbling on Happiness

    • Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink?
    • Why will sighted people pay more to avoid going blind than blind people will pay to regain their sight?
    • Why do dining companions insist on ordering different meals instead of getting what they really want?
    • Why do pigeons seem to have such excellent aim; why can’t we remember one song while listening to another; and why does the line at the grocery store always slow down the moment we join it?

In this brilliant, witty, and accessible book, renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions. Vividly bringing to life the latest scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, Gilbert reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there. With penetrating insight and sparkling prose, Gilbert explains why we seem to know so little about the hearts and minds of the people we are about to become.

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