Peter Bossaerts

Peter Bossaerts

Peter Bossaerts

Principal Investigator

Professor of Experimental Finance and Decision Neuroscience, The University of Melbourne
Honorary Fellow, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

Peter Bossaerts pioneered the use of controlled experimentation with human subjects in the study of asset pricing. He initially focused on the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), used throughout the financial industry to evaluate risk/return trade-offs and portfolio performance evaluation; later on he developed the methodology to test the core dynamic model used in finance, macro-economics and central banking to understand the link between asset prices, aggregate income, aggregate consumption, and business cycles (the “Lucas” model). This research was published in the main journals of finance (Journal of Finance, Review of Financial Studies, Review of Finance) and economics (Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy). The contributions led to a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation to organise a conference with the exclusive goal of educating the best and brightest asset-pricing theorists on the use of experimental methodology. Recently, Bossaerts has started work on policy issues (using markets to promote intellectual discovery; merits and drawbacks of opaque, decentralised markets; algorithmic trading and human-robot interface); for this, he received seed grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Foundation of the French Central Bank.

Bossaerts also pioneered the development of neuroeconomics and decision neuroscience. The former investigates the neurobiological foundations of decision and game theory, which has exclusively worked at the “computational level” (to use a term coined by D Marr and T Poggio from MIT); the latter puts biology in a more central position, realising that there is biological diversity that maps into behaviour that is not captured by traditional decision and game theory (including Prospect Theory). Bossaerts focuses on decision making under uncertainty, where “uncertainty” refers to both “risks created by Nature” (over which the decision-maker has no control — even if the decision-maker may think otherwise) and “strategic risks.” His contributions have been published in top neuroscience and general science journals (Neuron, Journal of Neuroscience, PLoS Computational Biology, Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences,…), and he pioneered the publication of decision neurocience in finance (Journal of Finance).

Prior to working on experimental finance and decision neuroscience, Bossaerts contributed to financial econometrics and econometric theory (publications in, a.o., Econometric Theory and Mathematical Finance), game theory (Review of Economic Studies) and asset pricing (Review of Financial Studies, Review of Economic Studies, Journal of Finance,…).

Bossaerts received his PhD from UCLA. He started his academic track at Carnegie Mellon University, and before going The University of Melbourne, he spent most of his career at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He has also had positions at Tilburg University, Yale University, EPFL and the University of Utah. He held a number of academic-administrative positions, including Chair (“Dean”) of The Humanities and Social Sciences at Caltech. In 2010, he was elected Fellow of The Econometric Society.

The University of Melbourne staff webpage