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Teacher Q&A: Pamela R. Haunschild

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Pamela R. Haunschild carries a barn owl named Petri for Wildlife Images in Ashland's Fourth of July parade. She volunteers weekly at the animal rehabilitation and education center in Grants Pass. Janet Eastman / Daily TidingsJanet Eastman
 Posted: 2:00 AM July 18, 2012

Pamela R. Haunschild's academic specialty is organizational decision making and learning — or not learning — from major errors. She teaches all over the world, including a course at the Ashland Osher Lifelong Learning Institute campus titled, "Predictably Irrational? The Psychology of Decision Making." She bought a vacation home on Mount Ashland in 1999 and moved here full time in 2010 after living in Austin, Texas, Palo Alto, Calif., and cities in the Midwest.

Give us three facts that get your students' attention: Our decision biases are so hidden that we are often unaware of them. For example, if I asked you to write down the last two digits of your Social Security number at the beginning of class and then asked you at the end of class to bid on a bottle of wine, you will unconsciously bid an amount that is very close to your Social Security number, which obviously has no relationship to the value of the wine. If you see a poster with eyes looking at you, you donate more to a coffee fund than you would if the eyes were not there. If I tell you to smile and then tell you a joke, you will find the joke much funnier than if I didn't tell you to smile first.

How do you introduce yourself to your students? I am here to help us all understand and correct the irrationalities in our decision-making. I want us to all feel comfortable giving the "wrong" answer and that I make as many mistakes as anyone. But if we can start to understand why we make these mistakes, we can start to overcome them.

About This Series

On the Podium is a series spotlighting Ashland teachers.

Favorite aspect about Ashland: The diversity of people, activities and worthwhile causes being addressed here. The intellectual climate is very stimulating. I also love living in the forest at 5,500-feet elevation, though the long winters do get me down a bit.

What do you do during your time off? I'm on the Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra board, am co-chair of the OLLI Curriculum Committee and volunteer weekly at Wildlife Images, the animal rehabilitation and education center in Grants Pass. I care for, feed and handle the raptors: hawks, eagles and owls. I also play bridge and take weekly piano lessons.

What's still on your to-do list? I want to keep improving my piano playing. I want to visit Africa and Australia.

Give us a few career highlights: I started my career in banking, then earned a Ph.D. in organizational behavior at Carnegie Mellon University in 1992. I was a professor at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford, then University of Texas at Austin, where I am now chaired professor emeritus. I was a Fulbright distinguished chair and a Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center academic fellow in 2006.

And if we wanted to learn more about you? My profile is posted by the University of Texas at Austin at

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