Biography

Sheena Iyengar is the inaugural S.T. Lee Professor of Business at Columbia Business School and the Research Director of the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business. A world renowned expert on the subject of choice, she says that choice can provide a sense of freedom and control that is essential to our well-being. It is the most powerful tool we have to shape our lives, to go from who we are today to who we want to be tomorrow. Unfortunately, the misunderstanding and poor practice of choice often undermines its many benefits and leaves us frustrated, overwhelmed and unhappy.

In her critically acclaimed book "The Art of Choosing," called "refreshingly thought-provoking" by The New York Times and “a page-turning narrative that blends academic rigor with a pop culture sensibility” by The Boston Globe, Sheena shines a bright light on the many different facets of choice, exposing it in all its mystery, complexity and compelling beauty. "The Art of Choosing" is “provocative rather than prescriptive” (The Wall Street Journal), raising questions that many of us have never asked ourselves but should. "The Art of Choosing" was a finalist for the 2010 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. It received the 2011 Gold Axiom Business Book Award in the "General Business/Economics" category, and it was selected by Amazon.com editors as one of the Top 10 Best Business Books of 2010. Publisher's Weekly notes: "Iyengar writes in a lucid, catchy style, very much in the Malcolm Gladwell vein of pop psychology-cum-social commentary, but with more rigor. The result is a delightful, astonishing take on the pitfalls of making up one's mind." Booklist observes: "Much of this eye-opening anatomy of choice focuses on consumerism, a lively, revealing arena, but Iyengar's high-voltage curiosity and penetrating insights are far more valuable when applied to deeper matters of existence." Newsweek states: "Iyengar makes a compelling case that choice is ingrained in every bit of who we are...a masterful, and masterfully written, collection of research..." The New York Times published a wonderful profile in which Sheena explains how choice gives us the power to create ourselves and our future, and reveals why we make the choices we make and how we can improve them.

Sheena knows firsthand how the power of choice can transform lives. When she was three years old, she was diagnosed with a rare form of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease of retinal degeneration. By 6th grade, Sheena had lost the ability to read, and by 11th grade, she had lost her sight entirely and could only perceive light. She was told by her high school guidance counselor that she shouldn’t bother applying to college; no matter what, she would eventually end up on SSI. Not only did Sheena choose to go to college, she graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in economics and a B.A. in psychology. She then earned her Ph.D. in social psychology from Stanford. The following year, her dissertation, “Choice and Its Discontents,” received the prestigious Best Dissertation Award for 1998 from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology. In 2002, she was the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Social Scientists for her work on cultural differences in decision making. In 2005 she was invited to a fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. She has written for CNN.com, Slate and strategy + business, and has been a guest on CNN, CNBC, CBS Sunday Morning News and The Today Show.

Sheena’s webpage at Columbia offers more information on her academic work and the specific courses she has taught and speeches she has given. Please visit it at: http://www.columbia.edu/~ss957/about.shtml.

Sheena lives with her husband, Garud, and irrepressible son, Ishaan, in New York City.