Dan Gilbert
Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

Dan Gilbert On Dumb Luck

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Daniel Gilbert wandered into psychology.

Dan Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His research with Tim Wilson on "affective forecasting" investigates how and how well people can make predictions about the emotional impact of future events.

Dan has won numerous awards for his teaching and research—from the Guggenheim Fellowship to the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. However, he says that his greatest accomplishment is that he appears just before Dizzy Gillespie on the list of Most Famous High School Dropouts.

Dan's research has been covered by The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, Money, CNN, U.S. News & World Report, The New Yorker, Scientific American, Oprah Magazine, Psychology Today, and many others.


Topic: Dan Gilbert discusses his haphazard path into psychology.

Dan Gilbert: You know, I was about 15½ years old when I decided that I was smarter than my high school and I shouldn’t be attending. So I stuck out my thumb and started hitch-hiking around the country. Ended up in Denver, Colorado where I got married and had a child. I became a science fiction writer. One day I decided I might benefit from a course in writing at the local community college. So I jumped on a bus and went down there to sign up for one; but I was a little late and the course was full, so I . . . they said psychology was open. So I wandered into psychology. I think that story makes it pretty evident that luck and chance is something between 99 and 100 percent of what’s happened to me. You know, had that bus been early or late, or had a different course been open, we might be having a chat about my career in cartography or some other discipline.

Recorded on: 6/12/2007