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Ming Hsu - Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley, CA, US

Ming Hsu Ming Hsu

William Halford Jr. Family Chair in Marketing | Associate Professor of Business Administration | University of California, Berkeley


Leading expert in neuromarketing and the application of biological methods to understand consumer behavior



Areas of Expertise (4)

Consumer Neuroscience


Behavioral Economics



Ming Hsu is an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He holds appointments in the Haas School of Business and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. Hsu’s research involves using neuroscientific and computational tools to understand the biological basis of economic and consumer decision-making, as well as how brain-based methods can be used to generate and validate insights into customers’ thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Prior to joining Berkeley, he was assistant professor of economics and neuroscience at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.






Neuromarketing: Inside the Mind of the Consumer Tech Companies Struggle With How to Curtail Offensive Speech


Education (2)

California Institute of Technology: PhD, Economics

University of Arizona: BA, Summa Cum Laude, Political Science

Honors & Awards (6)

Barbara and Gerson Bakar Faculty Fellow


UCSF-UC Berkeley Sabbatical Exchange Program


Society for Neuroeconomics Early Career Award


Hellman Faculty Fund Award


Kavli Fellow


Beckman Fellow


Positions Held (1)

At Haas since 2009

2016 - present, Associate Professor, Haas School of Business and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
2009 – 2016, Assistant Professor, Haas School of Business and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
2008 – 2009, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics and Neuroscience Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2006 – 2008, Beckman Fellow, Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Media Appearances (14)

How Much is Too Much? When Curiosity Kills the Cat

Top Of Mind With Julie Rose  radio


"The instant gratification of having the internet at your fingertips is often irresistible, isn’t it? I’ll be watching TV and suddenly need to know right now what else the show’s creator has done, what else the main actor has been in, who that star is married to, how old they are, how tall they are. . . it’s an endless rabbit hole of curiosity for useless information. And meanwhile, I end up missing key plot points because I can’t put the phone down."

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The way our brain values information suggests it can be addictive, like food or drugs

Science Alert  online


Understanding the way the brain works when we crave and then receive information may help researchers understand the nature of digital addiction. New research from Assoc. Prof. Ming Hsu, William Halford Jr. Family Chair in Marketing, has demonstrated for the first time that the brain treats information and money in a similar way, "which opens the door to a number of exciting questions about how people consume information," Hsu said.

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How our brain makes us addicted to information

Porquoi Docteur?  online


"For the brain, information is its own reward, beyond its utility," says neuroeconomist Ming Hsu. "And just as our brains love the empty calories of junk food, they can overstate information that makes us feel good but may not be useful, which some call idle curiosity."

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Are our brains addicted to information?

Medical News Today  online


New research has shown that the search for information accesses the same neural code as the search for money. "To the brain, information is its own reward, above and beyond whether it's useful," Associate Professor, Barbara and Gerson Bakar Faculty Fellow Ming Hsu.

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Neuroscience Study Explains Why We Go Down the Wikipedia Rabbit Hole

Inverse  online


A new study by Assoc. Prof. Ming Hsu found that the brain can be irrational about information in the same way it's irrational about junk food. That's because information acts on the brain's same dopamine-producing reward system as food or money. The research used functional magnetic resonence imaging (fMRI) as well as economic models and machine learning. “There is a lot of talk in the press about digital addiction, but often the speculation is running ahead of the science,” Hsu says. The study lays the groundwork to begin to unravel the neuroscience behind overconsumption of information.

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AT&T to resume advertising on YouTube

Marketplace  online


AT&T has announced it's putting ads back on YouTube after taking them off because of concerns that its messages were running alongside videos containing hate speech or touting terrorism. Other companies are expected to imitate. "A lot of companies are looking for a leader to follow," said Assoc. Prof. Ming Hsu.

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“Gambling brain” studies make clear why it’s hard to stop rolling the dice

Salon  online


Salon reprints an earlier Scientific American article highlighting work by Assoc. Prof. Ming Hsu of the Haas Marketing Group that shows that during the split second between placing a bet and learning the outcome, brains frantically replay previous betting decisions.

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“Gambling brain” studies make clear why it's hard to stop rolling the dice

Scientific American  online


Work by Assoc. Prof. Ming Hsu of the Haas Marketing Group shows that during the split second between placing a bet and learning the outcome, our brains frantically replay previous betting decisions. He said it's probably an evolutionarily means of improving future decision-making.

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Regret is a gambler’s curse, scientists say

UC Berkeley News  online


What goes through a gambler’s mind after she’s placed her bet? It’s not just the anticipation of a big payoff, or doubts about the wisdom of her bet. It’s also regret about previous bets, both won and lost, according to Assoc. Prof. Ming Hsu of the Haas Marketing Group.

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Stereotypes measurably influence how we treat each other

UC Berkeley News  online


Assoc. Prof. Ming Hsu of the Haas Marketing Group has a model that can predict the degree to which we discriminate against one another based on our stereotypes of groups according to their perceived warmth and competence.

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Tech companies struggle with how to curtail offensive speech

Voice of America  online


Assoc. Prof. Ming Hsu looks at how to come up with objective standards for determining whether certain speech could lead to real-world dangers. “We don’t have actionable standards for policymakers or for companies or even lay people to say, ‘This is crossing the boundaries,'" he said.

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Científicos de Berkeley por error, encontraron que un medicamento provoca la compasión de las personas.

Regeneracion  online


Regeneración, 04 de enero de 2017.- ¿Te imaginas una píldora que impulse la compasión humana? Un grupo de científicos de la Universidad de California en Berkeley ha dado un gran paso hacia este objetivo, al demostrar que un medicamento contra el Parkinson puede hacer a las personas menos tolerantes a la desigualdad.

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Call in the Robocops: With Democracy at Risk, Can We Quell Internet Bots & Trolls?

The Humanist  online


“We’re only beginning to grapple with this,” says the University of California-Berkeley’s Ming Hsu, who leads a team working on the challenge. “There’s a whole world out there that we don’t understand well.”

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Yes, Your DNA Can (Sort Of) Make You Poor

Fatherly  online


Managing money is never easy, but people with significant cash troubles may be able to blame their DNA. An increasing volume of research suggests that genetics may play a role in wealth and influence how we make financial decisions. “It’s one piece, but it’s questionable how large or how small it is,” Ming Hsu, professor at University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, told Fatherly.

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Working Papers (1)

Demand Estimation and Forecasting Using Neuroeconomic Models of Consumer Choice

Nan Chen, John A. Clithero, and Ming Hsu. SSRN Working Paper. 2019

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Selected Research Grants (6)

Collaborative Research: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Predicting Unequal Treatment

National Science Foundation 


Dopaminergic Mechanisms Underlying Human Social Behavior: A Multimodal Approach

National Institute of Mental Health 


2018 CRCNS Principal Investigators Meeting

National Science Foundation 


Cortical Oscillatory Dynamics and Human Decision-Making

National Institute of Mental Health 


CRCNS: Neurocomputational substrates of monetary exchange

National Institute of Drug Abuse 


Neurobiological Substrates of Social Behavior: A Neuroeconomic Framework

National Institute of Mental Health 


Selected Papers & Publications (9)

Common Neural Code for Reward and Information Value Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Kobayashi, Kenji, & Ming Hsu


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Predicting human behavior toward members of different social groups Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Jenkins, Adrianna, Pierre Karashchuk, Lusha Zhu, & Ming Hsu


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Neuromarketing: Inside the mind of the consumer California Management Review

Hsu, Ming


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From “Where” to “What”: Distributed Representations of Brand Associations in the Human Brain Journal of Marketing Research

Chen, Yu-Ping, Leif Nelson, and Ming Hsu


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The neuroscience of consumer choice Current Opinions in Behavioral Sciences,

Ming Hsu, Carolyn Yoon


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Dissociable neural representations of reinforcement and belief prediction errors underlie strategic learning Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Zhu, Lusha, Kyle Mathewson, and Ming Hsu


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The Right and the Good: Distributive Justice and Neural Encoding of Equity and Efficiency Science

Hsu, Ming, Cédric Anen, and Steven Quartz


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Neural Systems Responding to Degrees of Uncertainty In Human Decision Making Science

Hsu, Ming, Meghana Bhatt, Ralph Adolphs, Daniel Tranel, and Colin Camerer


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View full list of publications: Neuroeconomics Laboratory website

2005 - 2019

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Teaching (3)

Marketing Research

MBA 261

Marketing Research

UGBA 161


UGBA 106