Williams College Professor Kris Kirby to Present Sigma Xi Lectures

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., October 26, 2017—Kris Kirby, professor of psychology, will give two Sigma Xi lectures at Williams College on Thursday, Nov. 9 and Friday, Nov. 10. Both talks will take place at 4:15 p.m. in Wege Auditorium, with a catered reception following the talk on Friday. They are free and open to the public.

Kirby’s first lecture is titled “Weighing Future Consequences: The Discounting Theory of Impulsive Choices.” Most choices, from pressing the doze button in the morning to raiding the refrigerator before bed, involve tradeoffs between more immediate and more delayed consequences. As the potential consequences of a choice move further into the future, their impact on our preferences declines. In this talk, Kirby will explain how the mathematical form of the way we discount future consequences provides a theory of impulsive choices.

In his second lecture, Kirby will present “Resolving the Paradox of Self-control.” He will discuss how people learn to anticipate their own impulsive choices, and can make use of strategies to try to prevent those choices. The paradox of self-control is that the times we most need these strategies are precisely the times we are most motivated to evade them. Kirby will explain how the delay-discounting model of impulsive choices can resolve the self-control paradox.

Kirby received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Harvard, where he also conducted postdoctoral research prior to coming to Williams in 1992. His experimental research on choice and decision-making has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Judgment and Decision Making and the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making.

Sigma Xi is a national society honoring and encouraging research in science since 1886. The Williams chapter was founded in 1969. It recognizes exceptional graduating students in the sciences each year. The Sigma Xi lecture is a semi-annual event.


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications (413) 597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at www.williams.edu/map