Economics H195A
Senior Honor's Thesis Seminar
University of California, Berkeley
Fall 2003
Professor Martha Olney

Interview with Prof. Stefano DellaVigna
Interview conducted by Adam Turpcu

     Professor DellaVigna knew early on that he wanted to teach at the university-level.  He loves learning and passing knowledge onto others.  However, economics wasn’t an obvious choice for a subject.  He only had a touch of Economics in High School.  He studied Physics and Math but realized that those were too solitary of subjects for him. He felt as though he would be unable to sit for one whole day and try to solve some differential equation.  When he was 18, he came to Berkeley from Lake Como Italy and took a couple of economics classes and that is what sparked his interest in economics.  Economics had an appealing mix of rigor and social behavior that wasn’t present in subjects he had studied in the past.  He went on to get a PhD in Economics from Harvard University.  Ten years had passed since taking those economics classes at Berkeley when he returned to become a Professor here last year.   

Professor DellaVigna does research on consumer self control problems, relationships between profit-maximizing firms and irrational consumers, and on media and attention.  In one of his ten current projects, he is analyzing days in which big news events occur and is testing to see whether this diverts investor’s attention to an extent to which companies are mispriced.   He is also testing to see whether excess returns can be made from investing in these potentially mispriced stocks.   

Professor DellaVigna believes that half the battle of being a good researcher is developing good questions.   The other half of the battle is being able to answer those questions.  He advises students who are writing a thesis to be curious, ask alot of questions, and to talk to others.   He emphasizes the importance of discussing your topic with others because in doing so you find out more about the practicality of the topic and whether or not the topic is interesting.

     Professor DellaVigna likes to bike and spend time with his wife and friends.  He doesn’t watch TV, but he likes to watch movies.  He is currently planning to go out and see Winged Migration at the Metreon in San Francisco.

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Page prepared by Prof. Martha Olney

Last updated 10/29/2003