• Ph.D.




    My academic research focuses on social, emotional, and contextual factors that affect choice behavior, factors like the anticipation of the “right” moment, the perception of a speaker’s vocal tone, and the judgment of another person’s expected utility. My interest in these inputs into choice stems from a desire to understand systematic differences in the preferences expressed and the choices made by myself and others in our daily lives. It is my general hope that, by developing simple and useful models of some determinants of choice behavior, models that beneficially blend psychological concepts with economic logic, my research can point the way toward meaningful interventions for those scenarios in which our emotional, social, or contextual circumstances are poised to distract us from what we would ultimately prefer to do.


    Below are just some of the projects on which I've worked.

    Context-Sensitivities Affecting Acquisition and Consumption

    Invited Talk at the 2016 Conference of The Society for Judgment and Decision Making

    So, when're you going to pop the cork on that wine bottle?


    Fewer Likes: "Social Poverty" and Social Attention

    Are people who are socially "poor" more likely to notice certain social cues, like emotions?


    Shifting Social Inferences Affecting Compensatory Behaviors

    The corpse flower is a large, tropical flowering plant whose blossom is famous for its rancid smell of rotting flesh, an odor quite important in the species' mating strategy. What would you think about going to sniff the flower a few times this week?



    Department Head and James M. Walton Professor of Economics

    Carnegie Mellon University

  • Educator / Tutor




    In addition to serving as Teaching Assistant to several professors of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, I have also worked as a private tutor for over ten years. Since 2009, I have worked as a tutor through Signet Education, a boutique education company with headquarters in Cambridge, MA. I am currently a Senior Tutor there, responsible not only for helping students improve their skills and understandings in a variety of academic domains but also for helping Junior Tutors improve their skills in educating effectively.


    Carnegie Mellon University

    Reason, Passion, and Cognition

    Led by Karim Kassam (2013 - 2014) and Nichole Argo (2015)


    "How do we make decisions?"


    Reason, Passion and Cognition is an introduction to the psychology of preference, judgment, and choice. Lectures focus on the ways in which cognitive and emotional processes relate to decisions made in the laboratory and in everyday life.

    International Negotiations

    Led by Linda Babcock (2012 - 2014)


    Negotiation is the process by which two or more parties with interdependent interests secure agreements.


    This course covers the basic principles of negotiation and pays specific attention to the complexities that arise when negotiations take place across national boundaries. These complexities involve cross-cultural differences in beliefs and values, historical animosities, and linkages to negotiations with other countries, in addition to the standard complexities that arise in domestic negotiations.

    Behavioral Decision Making

    Led by Baruch Fischhoff (2011) and Michael Yu (2016)


    Behavioral Decision Making hopes to describe decision-making processes in ways that will (eventually) help people make better decisions.


    This course draws together findings from psychology, economics, political science, and management (among other disciplines) as well as examples from technology, medicine, human-computer interaction, and intelligence in order to provide students with a solid foundation in topics like overconfidence, risk, and clinical versus actuarial judgment.



    “I just wanted to thank all the folks at Signet for helping me to improve my GRE scores. Richard is a fabulous tutor and made all the difference in my most recent effort. I owe a debt of gratitude to all the staff at Signet, especially Richard.”


    “I am writing to let you know that [my son] got accepted to Harvard, and to thank you and your team for all the help he has received. Working with Richard and Sheila was extremely helpful and I don't think he would have achieved the same result without them.”

  • Photographer




    A tangent to my scientific work, my photographic work concentrates on unique moments that arise in everyday life. Thus a sort of documentary photographer with an eye toward fine art, I am particularly interested in portraits that capture people at their least guarded and in still lives that capture a sum being more than its parts.


    Many of the images that appear on this site — except, for example, the portraits of myself and my collaborators — are examples of my work. All rights reserved.


    Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies

    Harvard University

  • December 2016


  • Brief Professional History

    Quantitative User Experience Researcher for Google Maps


    Mountain View, CA


    2017 - Present


    Carnegie Mellon University

    Pittsburgh, PA


    Received 2016


    Ph.D. Intern in the People and Innovation Lab


    Mountain View, CA


    June - August 2014


    Consultant & Senior Tutor

    Signet Education

    Cambridge, MA


    2009 - Present


    Research Assistant in the Pinker Psychology Lab

    Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA


    2009 - 2011


    A.B. in Psychology

    Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA


    Received 2007


    Secondary Field in Visual and Environmental Studies

    Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA


    2005 - 2007


  • ME


    Researcher, Educator, Photographer, Film Enthusiast

    Currently based in San Francisco, CA

    ORCID: 0000-0002-8464-318X




    Rich Truncellito