Log In

Ernst Meinrad Fehr Edit Profile

Economist , educator

Ernst Fehr is an Austrian economist.


He studied Economics at the University of Vienna, where he later earned his doctorate and completed his habilitation. Ernst Fehr has numerous publications in international top journals including Science, Nature, Neuron, Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy, and Psychological Science.


Ernst Fehr has been Professor of Microeconomics and Experimental Economics at the University of Zurich since 1994.

He was director of the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics and is presently chairman of the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich.

He has been a Global Distinguished Professor at New York University since 2011 and was an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2003 to 2011.

He is a former president of the Economic Science Association and of the European Economic Association, 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 recipient of the Marcel Benoist Prize in 2008.


  • 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.


  • article

    • A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation, (with K. Schmidt), 1999

    • Altruistic Punishment in Humans, 2002

    • Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments, (with S. Gachter), 2000

    • Fairness and Retaliation – The Economics of Reciprocity, (with S. Gachter), 2000

    • The Nature of Human Altruism, (with Urs Fischbacher), 2003

    • Third party punishment and social norms, (with Urs Fischbacher), 2004

    • Explaining altruistic behavior in humans, (with Herbert Gintis, Samuel Bowles, Robert Boyd), 2003

    • Oxytocin Increases Trust in Humans, (with M. Kosfeld, M. Heinrichs, P. Zak and U. Fischbacher), 2005

    • The Neural Basis of Altruistic Punishment, (with D. DeQuervain, U. Fischbacher, V. Treyer, M. Schellhammer, and A. Buck), 2004

    • Diminishing Reciprocal Fairness by Disrupting Right Prefrontal Cortex, (with D. Knoch. A. Pascual-Leone, K. Meyer, V. Treyer), 2006

  • book

    • Economic Theory of Self-Management and Profit-Sharing, 1988

    • Foundations of Human Sociality – Economic Experiments and Ethnographic Evidence from Fif- teen Small Scale Societies, 2004 (with Joe Henrich, Robert Boyd, Samuel Bowles, Colin Camerer, and Herbert Gintis).

    • Moral Sentiments and Material Interests, 2005 (with Robert Boyd, Samual Bowles and Herbert Gintis).

    • Handbook of Neuroeconomics, 2008.


  • European Economic Association

  • Economic Science Association

  • Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina


  • Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences


  • Fellow of the Econometric Society


  • Member of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften


  • John Kenneth Galbraith Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences


  • Member of the Academia Europaea


  • Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science


  • Elected member of the Council of the Econometric Society for the period 2012- 2014



Armin Falk