Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg


Hengstberger Symposium on (Non-)Optimal human decision making in dynamic environments

March 2–4, 2015, Internationales Wissenschaftsforum (IWH), Heidelberg, Germany.

Real-world decisions take place in complex dynamic environments under imperfect information. Situations develop dynamically and change as a consequence of decision made, often in ways that are difficult to predict. This poses particular challenges for decision makers and scientific investigators alike. Different scientific disciplines have applied different approaches to understand the problem from their particular perspective. The goal of this symposium is to explore opportunities for interaction: Complementary theories and methods provided by mathematics, economics, and psychology should be integrated for a more profound understanding of dynamic decision making. The symposium will focus on the questions of (a) what it means to make “optimal” decisions in dynamic situations, (b) how and under which conditions optimal solutions can be determined, (c) to what extent formal optimality is an appropriate yardstick for often non-optimal human behavior, and (d) how human cognitive limitations can be integrated into models of (non-) optimal decision making.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The role of learning in dynamic decision making
  • Learning theories in dynamic environments and games
  • Bounded rationality and deviations from rationality
  • Formal models of dynamic decision processes
  • Modeling and integration of cognitive limitations
  • Optimal actions versus human decision makers' heuristics

Target Audience

Researchers interested in an interdisciplinary approach to decision making in dynamic environments. Relevant fields include psychiatry, psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, mathematics, economics, computer science, statistics, and related disciplines. The workshop welcomes young researchers and is open to attendance of doctoral and graduate students.

Confirmed Invited Speakers

  • Ido Erev (Technion, Haifa, Israel)
  • John Hey (Centre for Experimental Economics, University of York, United Kingdom)
  • Magda Osman (Queen Mary College, University of London, United Kingdom)
  • Sebastian Sager (Otto von Guericke Universität, Magdeburg, Germany)

Workshop Program (last updated February 27)

The information leaflet is available for download.
The final workshop program is available for download.
The slides of all presentations given during the workshop are available for download. Password required.


Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg (IWH) is a center for scholarly exchange in all areas of science and academic research. As a communication center, it offers the possibility for interaction and interdisciplinary studies on a science base for scientists for more than 28 years. It was established on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany's oldest university.

Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heideberg (IWH)
Hauptstraße 242
69117 Heidelberg

Directions to Heidelberg and to IWH

  • Registration for the workshop has been closed. Thank you very much for your interest.
  • All registered participants who intend to contribute a talk and haven't already sent a tentative title and abstract to the e-mail address are kindly asked to please do so by February 22, 2015.


Organizers and Support

The workshop is generously supported by Klaus-Georg and Sigrid Hengstberger foundation, and is organized by

  • Peter Duersch (Alfred-Weber Institute for Economics, Heidelberg University)
  • Daniel Holt (Institute of Psychology, Heidelberg University)
  • Christian Kirches (Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing, Heidelberg University)