News Center

News from the Reed College public affairs office

Econ Major Earns Meier Prize

By Anna Mann on May 26, 2015 04:13 PM

Econ major Mat Olson ’15 won the Meier Award for outstanding achievement. He wrote his thesis on the decoy effect and the conjunction fallacy.

Mat Olson ’15 has won the celebrated Gerald M. Meier Award for Distinction in Economics, given by the economics department for outstanding achievement.

Mat's thesis was titled "The Relevance of Irrelevance: Exploring Decoy Effect and Conjunction Fallacy" and his adviser was Prof. Jon Rork [economics 2010–].

"Mat's thesis explored two phenomena in behavioral economics—the conjunction fallacy and the decoy effect—that explain why people make suboptimal choices in certain scenarios," Prof. Rork told us. "One thing Mat wanted to look at was whether people exposed to certain types of academic approaches (statistical, logic, linguistic, etc.) were less likely to succumb to these fallacies.  No such luck, showing that our innate decision making processes cannot be 'taught' away."

In addition to his scholarly work at Reed, Mat moonlighted as an improv comedian, hosted a talk show, edited the student handbook, and wrote articles for Sallyportal. He hails from Kirkland, Washington.

The Meier Award is named for Jerry Meier ’47, a Rhodes scholar, Guggenheim fellow, and leading expert in the economies of developing nations.