Penn PIK Professors Barbara Mellers and Philip Tetlock Win 2017 Schelling Awards

Two Penn Integrates Knowledge professors at the University of Pennsylvania, Barbara Mellers and Philip Tetlock, have been awarded the 2017 Thomas C. Schelling Award by Harvard University’s Kennedy School recognizing them as individuals whose “remarkable intellectual work has had a transformative impact on public policy.”

Mellers is the I. George Heyman University Professor with appointments in the psychology department in the School of Arts & Sciences and the marketing department in the Wharton School. She has spent decades studying judgment and decision making.

Tetlock is the Annenberg University Professor with appointments in psychology in Arts & Sciences and management in Wharton. He focuses on the intersection of political science, psychology and management science. His work aims to improve prediction methods in political, business and other spheres.

Together, they co-led a Penn team in The Good Judgment Project, a four-year prediction tournament sponsored by the United States intelligence community. By focusing on a combination of intuition, probability, teamwork and computational analyses, the researchers successfully created a system of superforecasters, ordinary people whose combined predictive abilities became more powerful than that of CIA analysts. The pair eventually adapted their methods for use by intelligence agencies.

Mellers said it’s an honor to receive this award, named for the Harvard political economy professor renowned for his work on game theory and the dangers of nuclear war.

“We greatly admire the elegant work of Tom Schelling,” she said.

Tetlock remembered encountering Schelling for the first time, at a 1987 meeting of the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, D.C.

“I recall what a thoughtful influence he had. He had a wonderful capacity to do perspective shifting,” excelling at understanding others’ perspectives to the point of restating them better than the original, “which is a key attribute of our superforecasters.”

Award recipients receive $25,000; honors will be presented April 6 during a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass.


Barbara Mellers and Philip Tetlock