Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Philip E. Tetlock

Philip E. Tetlock

My current research programs are organized into four categories:

(1) Accountability. This research explores the wide range of strategies people use to cope with social pressures to justify their views or conduct to others. Work to date examines such strategies as attitude shifting/ingratiation, pre-emptive self-criticism, defensive bolstering, decision evasion (buckpassing, procrastination, and obfuscation), protest against "unreasonable" standards, justifications, excuses, and apologies for disappointing conduct, exploitation of loopholes in performance evaluation systems (cheating), exercising the exit option, and loyalty. Several studies now shed light on the conditions under which these strategies are likely to be activated as well as the implications of strategies for judgmental biases (in particular, work on pre-emptive self-criticism, defensive bolstering, and decision evasion) and for interpersonal harmony and organizational performance.

(2) Value conflict/taboo trade-offs/protecting the sacred. This research explores the boundaries people often place on the range of the "thinkable." Examples include taboo trade-offs, forbidden base rates, and heretical counterfactuals. The guiding conceptual framework is the sacred-value-protection model which maintains that: (a) moral communities tend to treat certain values as sacred, as though (at least at a rhetorical level) the community has an unbounded or infinite commitment to the values that precludes trade-offs, compromise, or other mingling with secular values or considerations; (b) members in good standing in the moral community are supposed to direct the moral outrage at those who mix secular and sacred values considerations (and indeed are supposed to engage in meta-norm enforcement: to punish those who fail to punish); (c) members of the moral community who have merely witnessed the profanation of sacred values are also supposed to engage in moral cleansing to purify the self and to reaffirm solidarity with the normative order.

(3) The concept of good judgment. This line of work can itself be broken down into three subcategories: work on world politics, styles of reasoning in individuals and groups, and alternative functionalist metaphors for judgment. The work on world politics focuses on the costs and benefits of different styles of reasoning in that domain. This work draws heavily on expert judgment and deals largely with assessments of historical counterfactuals, the generation of conditional forecasts, and reactions to the confirmation or disconfirmation of conditional forecasts. The work on reasoning styles of individuals attempts to identify situations in which integratively simple versus complex styles of reasoning are especially likely to prove adaptive or maladaptive. The work on group processes uses the political and corporate versions of the Group Dynamics Q-sort to document the conditions under which various patterns of small group dynamics are likely to prove adaptive or maladaptive in decision making environments. The work on alternative functionalist metaphors explores how our judgments of judgmental biases and errors inevitably rest on assumptions about the goals people are trying to achieve by thinking, feeling, and acting as they do. What looks like an error when we posit that people are intuitive scientists (trying to understand the world) or intuitive economists (trying to maximize utility in competitive markets) may look quite defensible, even adaptive or appropriate when we posit that people are intuitive politicians (trying to maintain good relations with key constituencies or intuitive theologians (trying to protect sacred values against secular encroachments) or intuitive prosecutors (trying to deter violations of the normative order).

(4) Political versus politicized psychology: Are value neutrality and objectivity obsolete ideals? This series of articles identifies criteria that can be used to gauge the impact of moral and political objectives on psychological research programs that are ostensibly dedicated exclusively to the pursuit of the truth. Several articles also explore the difficulties of drawing sharp fact-value distinctions and the resulting threats that arise to the value-neutrality and objectivity of knowledge claims in behavioral and social science (with special reference to work on racial policy reasoning and on foreign policy preferences). Finally, a subset of articles goes beyond "cursing the darkness" to "lighting candles" -- to identifying conceptual and methodological strategies for checking creeping politicization. These strategies include turnabout thought experiments (that are often readily translatable into actual experiments in the laboratory or in representative-sample surveys), the development of Q-sort techniques for translating case studies into standardized data languages with common metrics, and adopting a posture of constructive ambiguity in evaluating styles of reasoning in individuals and groups (recognizing the ease with which partisans can affix negative or positive value spins to a given pattern of reasoning or to its opposite).


Philip Converse Book Award for outstanding book in the field published five or more years ago, 2011, American Political Science Association (for co-authored book, Reasoning and choice: Explorations in political psychology, 1992)

Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2009

Harold Lasswell Award for Distinguished Scientific Contribution in the Field of Political Psychology, 2008, International Society of Political Psychology

Grawemeyer World Order Prize, 2007

Woodrow Wilson Award for best book published on government, politics, or international affairs, 2006, American Political Science Association (for solo-authored Expert political judgment: How good is it? How can we know?)

Robert E. Lane Award for best book in political psychology, American Political Science Association, 2006 (for solo-authored Expert political judgment: How good is it? How can we know?)

National Academy of Sciences Award for Behavioral Research Relevant to the Prevention of War, 1999

Nevitt Sanford Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Political Psychology, International Society of Political Psychology, 1997

Woodrow Wilson Book Award, American Political Science Association (co-recipient with P. Sniderman & R. Brody, for Reasoning and choice: Explorations in political psychology), 1992

American Association for the Advancement of Science Prize for Behavioral Science Research, 1988

MacArthur Fellow in International Security and Conflict Resolution, 1987-1989; 1999-2001

Fellow of Division 8 of the American Psychological Association, 1987

Erik H. Erikson Award of the International Society of Political Psychology, 1987

Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, 1987

Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Social Psychology, American Psychological Association, 1986

Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship, 1977-1979

Yale University Fellowship, 1976-1977

Governor-General’s Gold Medal, Award for Undergraduate Academic Excellence, 1975

British Columbia Psychological Association Gold Medal, 1975


--Annual Review of Psychology
--Psychological Science
--Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition
--International Studies Quarterly
--Journal of Behavioral Decision Making
--Journal of Conflict Resolution
--Political Psychology
--Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes


Director, Institute of Personality Assessment and Research (renamed in 1992 as Institute of Personality and Social Research), University of California, Berkeley, 1988-1995

Group Chair, Organizational Behavior and Industrial Relations, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, 2002-present

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, 2003-2004.

Director, Ph.D. Programs, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

Primary Interests:

  • Aggression, Conflict, Peace
  • Attitudes and Beliefs
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Personality, Individual Differences
  • Political Psychology
  • Social Cognition


  • Breslauer, G., & Tetlock, P. E. (Eds.). (1991). Learning in U.S. and Soviet foreign policy. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Sniderman, P., Fletcher, J., Russell, P., & Tetlock, P. E. (1996). The clash of rights: Liberty, equality, and legitimacy in liberal democracy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Sniderman, P. M., Brody, R., & Tetlock, P. E. (1991). Reasoning about politics: Explorations in political psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sniderman, P., Tetlock, P. E., & Carmines, E. G. (Eds.). (1993). Prejudice, politics, and the American dilemma. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  • Suedfeld, P., & Tetlock, P. E. (Eds.). (1991). Psychology and social policy. Washington, DC: Hemisphere.
  • Tetlock, P.E. (2005). Expert political judgment: How good is it? How can we know? Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Tetlock, P. E., & Belkin, A. (Eds.). (1996). Counterfactual thought experiments in world politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Tetlock, P. E., & Gardner, D. (2015). Superforecasting: The art and science of prediction. New York: Crown Publishers.
  • Tetlock, P. E., Husbands, J., Jervis, R., Stern, P., & Tilly, C. (Eds.). (1989, 1991, 1993). Behavior, society and nuclear war (Vols. 1-3). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Tetlock, P. E., Lebow, R. N., & Parker, G. (Eds.). (2004). Unmaking the West: Counterfactual explorations of alternative histories. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Journal Articles:

  • Green, M., Visser, P., & Tetlock, P. E. (2000). Coping with accountability cross-pressures: Attitude shifting, self-criticism, and decision evasion. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
  • Mitchell, P. G., Tetlock, P. E., Newman, D., & Lerner, J. (2003). Experiments behind the veil: A hypothetical societies approach to the study of social justice. Political Psychology, 24, 519-547.
  • Tetlock, P. E. (2000). Cognitive biases and organizational correctives: Do both disease and cure depend on the ideological beholder? Administrative Science Quarterly.
  • Tetlock, P. E. (1999). Theory-driven reasoning about possible pasts and probable futures: Are we prisoners of our preconceptions? American Journal of Political Science, 43, 335-366.
  • Tetlock, P. E., Kristel, O., Elson, B., Green, M., & Lerner, J. (2000). The psychology of the unthinkable: Taboo trade-offs, forbidden base rates, and heretical counterfactuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Other Publications:

  • Suedfeld, P., & Tetlock, P. E. (in press). Cognitive styles. In A. Tesser & N. Schwartz (Eds.), Blackwell international handbook of social psychology: Intra-individual processes (Vol. 1). London: Blackwell Publishers.

Courses Taught:

  • Creating Effective Organizations
  • Cultivating Your Judgment Skills: The Art and Science of Confidence Calibration in Business, Politics and Life
  • The Psychology of Politics—and the Politics of Psychology

Philip E. Tetlock
3720 Walnut Solomon Labs
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
United States

  • Phone: (215) 746-8541
  • Fax: (215) 898-0401

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