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Behavioral Expert Peter Ubel ’84 to Explore the Psychology of Health Care in Convocation Address

May 6, 2012
By Jacob Cohn '13

Peter Ubel, Carleton Class of 1984, a noted physician and behavioral scientist whose work has focused on the idiosyncrasies of human nature that impact our lives, will deliver Carleton College’s convocation address on Friday, May 11. Ubel’s presentation, “Battling Over Health Care: The Weird Clash of Morality and Psychology That Threatens to Bankrupt Us,” will explore the framing of the health care debate in the United States, including such topics as informed consent, shared decision-making and health care rationing. Convocation is held from 10:50-11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel, and it is free and open to the public.

Ubel's work explores the mixture of rational and irrational forces that affect health, happiness and the way society functions. He has written about controversial issues about the role of values and preferences in health care decision-making, from the bedside to the halls of power. His most recent book, Free Market Madness: Why Human Nature is at Odds with Economics—and Why It Matters (Harvard Business School Press, 2009), argues that modern economics fails to explain the irrationality inherent in human nature. Understanding human nature and all its foibles, Ubel argues, is vital to living a better, healthier life.

Ubel's other books include You're Stronger Than You Think: Tapping into the Secrets of Emotionally Resilient People (McGraw-Hill, 2006), which studies people who have faced extreme medical setbacks and their methods of coping, and Pricing Life: Why It's Time for Health Care Rationing (The MIT Press, 2001), which makes the argument for cost-effectiveness analysis in the health care system. In addition to numerous academic journals, Ubel's work has also appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, the Los Angeles Times, The New Leader, The Sciences, and Worth.

Ubel is a professor of marketing and public policy at Drake University and holds a doctorate of medicine from the University of Minnesota. Before coming to Duke, Ubel taught at the University of Michigan and later directed the Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine. More information about Ubel can be found on his website at

For more information about this event, including disability accommodations, contact the Carleton College Office of College Relations at (507) 222-4308. Skinner Memorial Chapel is located on First Street between College and Winona Streets in Northfield.