Ernst Fehr

Professor of Economics
Vice-Chairman of the Department of Economics

Director of the UBS Center

Support staff
Sally Gschwend-Fisher
Phone: +41 44 634 3701
Office hours: Monday - Thursday
Josef Adler
Phone: +41 44 634 3767


Research Management

Dr. Helen Bernhard

Office: BLU-202
Phone: +41 (0)44 634 37 61
Fax: +41 (0)44 634 49 07


Short Bio

Ernst Fehr has been Professor of Microeconomics and Experimental Economics at the University of Zürich since 1994. He served as director of the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics and chairman of the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich. He currently serves as director of the UBS International Center of Economics in Society. He has been a Global Distinguished Professor at New York University since 2011 and was an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2003 to 2011. He is a former president of the Economic Science Association and of the European Economic Association, an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and John Kenneth Galbraith Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences. He was recipient of the Marcel Benoist Prize in 2008 and the Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize in 2013.
Ernst Fehr was born in Hard (Vorarlberg, Austria) in 1956. He studied Economics at the University of Vienna, where he later earned his doctorate and completed his habilitation.
Ernst Fehr has numerous publications in international top journals including Science, Nature, Neuron, Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy, and Psychological Science. His research focuses on the proximate patterns and the evolutionary origins of human altruism and the interplay between social preferences, social norms and strategic interactions. He has conducted extensive research on the impact of social preferences on competition, cooperation and on the psychological foundations of incentives. More recently he has worked on the role of bounded rationality in strategic interactions and on the neurobiological foundations of social and economic behavior. Fehr’s work is characterized by the combination of game theoretic tools with experimental methods and the use of insights from economics, social psychology, sociology, biology and neuroscience for a better understanding of human social behavior.

New publications

Female genital cutting is not a social coordination norm

Science 25 September 2015: Vol. 349 no. 6255 pp. 1446-1447 advanced online publicatioin doi: 10.1126/science.aaa7978 (with C. Efferson, S. Vogt, A. Elhadi, and H. El Fadil Ahmed)

Business culture and dishonesty in the banking industry

Nature, 2014, advanced online publicatioin doi:10.138/nature13977 (with A. Cohn and M. Maréchal)

Summary of the Study in English (PDF, 41 KB) (PDF, 40 KB)Zusammenfassung der Studie auf Deutsch (PDF, 44 KB) (PDF, 43 KB)
Evidence for Countercyclical Risk Aversion: An Experiment with Financial Professionals (PDF, 565 KB)American Economic Review, 105(2), 860-885, 2014 (with A. Cohn, J. Engelmann, and M. Maréchal)
Benefits of Neuroeconomic Modeling: New Policy Interventions and predictors of Preference, American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings, 104(5), 501-506, 2014, (with I. Krajbich and B. Oud)
The Intrinsic Value of Decision Rights (PDF, 693 KB)Econometrica, 82(6), 2005-2039, 2014 (with B. Bartling and H. Herz)
The neurobiology of rewards and values in social decision making, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, AOP doi:10.1038/nrn3776 (with C.C. Ruff)
On the psychology of poverty (PDF, 1.52 MB)Science 344(6186), 862-867, 2014 (with J. Haushofer)
Changing Social Norm Compliance with Noninvasive Brain Stimulation

Science 342, 482-484, 2013 (with C.C. Ruff and G. Ugazio)

The Lure of Authority: Motivation and Incentive Effects of PowerThe Lure of Authority: Motivation and Incentive Effects of Power (PDF, 1.43 MB) (PDF, 1397 KB)

American Economic Review 103(4), 2013, 1325-1359 (with H. Herz and T. Willkening)