Speakers

Ed Diener is alumni professor of psychology (distinguished chair endowed by the alumni) at the University of Illinois. Diener received his Ph.D. at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1974, and has been a faculty member at the University of Illinois ever since. He is past-president of the International Society of Quality of Life Studies, and is past-president of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology (and Division 8 of APA). Diener was the editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1998-2003) and also is editor of Journal of Happiness Studies. He won the 2000 Distinguished Researcher Award from the International Society of Quality of Life Studies.

Diener has about 180 publications, of which about 140 are in the area of subjective well-being (SWB). He was listed as the second most published author in the first 30 years of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and currently has 46 publications in this journal. His research focuses on several areas: the measurement of subjective well-being; temperament and personality influences on SWB; theories of well-being; demographics and well-being (e.g., income, sex and age). Diener has edited three recent books on SWB: Well-being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology, Advances in Quality of Life Studies, and Culture and Subjective Well-Being.


Rafael Di Tella received his first degree in economics in 1990 from the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina and his D.Phil. in economics from Oxford University in 1996. After a short stay in Argentina, he joined Harvard Business School in July 1997, where he has taught Business History and Business, Government and the International Economy in the first year, required curriculum, as well as a course on Institutions and Macroeconomics in the second year.

Di Tella works on political economy, with a focus on institutional development. His research has concerned the structure of the welfare state and, more broadly, the causes of fiscal policy. In particular, he studies measures of happiness and how they can inform government policies on issues that range from the incidence of inequality to the inflation-unemployment tradeoff. His current research studies reversals of pro-market reform and, more generally, why capitalism doesn’t flow to poor countries. His work has been published mainly in academic journals, including Journal of Political Economy, the American Economic Review and The Review of Economic Studies.


Read Montague is a professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, director of the Human Neuroimaging Lab, and director of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience.  He received his M.D./Ph.D. from the University of Alabama. His work focuses on two broad areas, computational neuroscience and neuroeconomics. Computational neuroscience studies the connection between the physical mechanisms present in real neural tissue and the computational functions that these mechanisms embody. Neuroeconomics seeks to connect economic principles of valuation and decision-making to physically measurable brain responses. These two approaches require both experiment and theory, and Montague directs a diverse group of physicists, mathematicians, psychologists and neuroscientists in an effort to understand how human brains make decisions.  Most recently, his group has pioneered a new approach called hyperscanning to understand social and economic exchange between humans. This new technology permits the simultaneous imaging of socially or economically interacting brains and has opened the way for measuring brain responses during important social interactions (e.g. hyperscanning experiments on trust are described here).


Tim Kasser is an associate professor of psychology at Knox College.  He received his Ph.D. (1995) and M.A. in psychology from the University of Rochester and his B.A. in psychology from Vanderbilt University.  His passion is to use the academic profession to understand, explore and make changes around issues of materialism, consumerism and simplicity.  Since the early 1990s, Kasser has been researching people’s values and goals and how they relate to quality of life.  He is particularly interested in people’s orientation toward materialistic, consumeristic goals (such as money, image and status) as opposed to more “intrinsically satisfying” goals (such as personal growth, connection to others and contribution to the community).  Kasser has numerous publications and book chapters, including  his 2002 book, The High Price of Materialism, published by The MIT Press.  His teaching interests are in personality, clinical and abnormal psychology and alternatives to consumerism.