Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Wilson, Timothy D.
Location University of Virginia
Primary Field Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
Secondary Field Social and Political Sciences
 Election Citation
Wilson demonstrated the limits of self-knowledge, e.g., that too much introspection is costly to decision-making, and that people overestimate the emotional impact of future events.
 Research Interests
Timothy D. Wilson has investigated the limits and sources of self-knowledge. Early in his career he demonstrated the limits of introspection as a source of self-knowledge, particularly reports about why people do what they do. Subsequently he showed that there can be costs to engaging in too much introspection, namely deficits in decision making and attitude-behavior consistency. His later research, in collaboration with Daniel Gilbert, investigated people's knowledge about their future emotions (their affective forecasts). He and his collaborators found that people often overestimate the impact of future events on their emotional reactions. His book Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious chronicles much of this research on self-knowledge. More recently he has focused less on the limits of introspection and more on its functions, namely whether people can derive pleasure from "just thinking." Throughout his career he has also been interested in applications of social psychology to address social problems, as described in his book Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By.

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