Joe Árvai

Joe Árvai

Director, USC Wrigley Institute for Environment & Sustainability

Dana and David Dornsife Chair and Professor of Psychology

Professor of Biological Sciences


Office Location: University Park Campus (CAS 200)

Twitter: @DecisionLab

Research Expertise:Judgment and decision-making about environmental issues and sustainability, consumer perceptions and behaviors related to sustainable products and technologies, perception and management of environmental and climate change risks.

Research & Practice Areas:Joe's research focuses on improving the critical thinking, judgment, and decision-making capabilities of people. His research focuses primarily on contexts where people must make judgments and decisions under conditions of risk and uncertainty, and where they must confront tradeoffs across conflicting social, economic, and environmental objectives. His research also focuses on situations where people’s instinctive approach to judgment and decision-making is biased by unchecked emotions and motivated reasoning.

Dr. Joe Árvai is the Dana and David Dornsife Professor of Psychology, Professor of Biological Sciences, and Director of the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California.

Joe and his lab of post-doctoral scholars and graduate students conduct research aimed at improving our understanding of how people intuitively make judgments and decisions about, primarily, environmental issues and sustainability. They couple this research with the development and testing of tools and approaches that can be used by people to improve decision quality across a broad range of environmental, social, and economic contexts. Decision quality, in this case, is measured by the degree to which people’s values and objectives align with their ultimate judgments and choices.

All of this research conducted in Joe’s lab is applied, and accounts for judgment and decision-making by a broad spectrum of public and stakeholder groups, as well as by technical experts, business leaders, and policy-makers.  Likewise, Joe and his group conduct research across a wide range of contexts, ranging from environmental risk management to consumer choice and policy-making.

In addition to Joe’s work at USC, he is a frequent advisor to government, business, and NGOs. He is a former member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chartered Science Advisory Board, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Environmental Change and Society. He is also a Senior Researcher at the Decision Science Research Institute in Eugene, OR, and he is an Adjunct Professor in Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.

In his spare time, Joe likes to make photographs, ride motorcycles, and climb mountains.

Journal Article

  • Siegrist, M., Arvai, J. (2020). Risk Perception: Reflections on 40 Years of Research. Risk Analysis. Vol. In press
  • Arvai, J., Segrè Cohen, A., Love, N. G., Nace, K. K., Árvai, J. (2020). Consumers’ acceptance of agricultural fertilizers derived from diverted and recycled human urine. Environmental Science & Technology. Vol. 54 (8), pp. 5297-5305.
  • Goto Gray, S., Sütterlin, B., Siegirst, M., Arvai, J. (2020). The benefit of virtue signaling: Corporate sleight-of-hand positively influences consumers’ judgments about “social license to operate”. Journal of Environmental Management. Vol. In press
  • Arvai, J., Drummond, C., Siegrist, M., Árvai, J. (2020). Limited effects of exposure to fake news about climate change. Environmental Research Communications. Vol. 2 (8), pp. 081003.
  • Drummond, C., Gray, S. G., Raimi, K. T., Wilson, R., Arvai, J. (2020). Public perceptions of federal science advisory boards depend on their composition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Vol. 117 (37), pp. 22668.
  • Bessette, D., Wilson, R., Arvai, J. (2020). Do people disagree with themselves? Exploring the internal consistency of complex, unfamiliar, and risky decisions. Journal of Risk Research. Vol. In press.
  • Arvai, J., Gregory, R. (2020). Beyond choice architecture: A building code for structuring climate risk management decisions. Behavioral Public Policy. Vol. In press.
  • Arvai, J., Gray, S. G., Raimi, K. T., Wilson, R., Drummond, C. (2020). Industry-dominated science advisory boards are perceived to be legitimate…but only when they recommend more stringent risk management policies. Risk Analysis. Vol. In press
  • Arvai, J., Lutzke, L., Drummond, C., Slovic, P., Árvai, J. (2019). Priming critical thinking: Simple interventions limit the influence of fake news about climate change on Facebook. Global Environmental Change. Vol. 58, pp. 101964.
  • Arvai, J., Gray, S. G., Raimi, K. T., Wilson, R., Árvai, J. (2019). Will Millennials save the world? The effect of age and generational differences on environmental concern. Journal of Environmental Management. Vol. 242, pp. 394-402.