Ernst Fehr was born in Hard (Vorarlberg, Austria) in 1956. He studied economics at the University of Vienna, where he later earned his doctorate and completed his habilitation. A former director of the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, he is currently the chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich, where he is also Professor of Microeconomics and Experimental Economic Research. He has served as Global Distinguished Professor of Economics at New York University since 2011, and was formerly an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A past president of the Economic Science Association and the European Economic Association (EEA), Fehr is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and John Kenneth Galbraith Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences. He was honored with the Marcel Benoist Prize in 2008.
He has published extensively in leading international journals including Science, Nature, Neuron, Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy and Psychological Science. His research focuses on the proximate patterns and the evolutionary origins of human altruism and the interplay between social preferences, social norms and strategic interactions. He has conducted extensive research on the impact of social preferences on competition, cooperation and on the psychological foundations of incentives. More recently he has worked on the role of bounded rationality in strategic interactions and on the neurobiological foundations of social and economic behavior. Fehr’s work is characterized by the combination of game theoretic tools with experimental methods and the use of insights from economics, social psychology, sociology, biology and neuroscience for a better understanding of human social behavior.