Dr. Michael Zürn


Michael Zürn investigates how people make decisions, why they do what they do, and how behavior can be changed. As a social psychologist and a behavioral economist, he mainly uses orthogonalized behavioral experiments to understand how information processing shapes our choices.

In particular, his projects have focused on the emergence of trust, the design of choice architectures, and the role of comparisons in evaluative judgments. For example, his research has shown that the mere ease of processing information affects trust in spontaneous decisions, or that systematic cognitive biases in our perception of uncertainty can be used to promote prosocial behavior.

At NIM, he continues to pursue an interdisciplinary approach to better understand market decisions and the social dynamics that are triggered by our economic interactions. Among other things, he investigates how consumers’ and employees’ perceptions of a purpose beyond profit is related to economic success, or which motivational conflicts may arise when humans interact with algorithm-based decision support systems.



michael.zuern <at> nim.org


Current projects:

  • Evaluative Judgments in Economic Decisions
  • Purpose Beyond Profit
  • Fairness, Trust and Cooperation
  • Nudging & Reactance


  • Researcher at the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions
  • Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Social Cognition Center Cologne (SoCCCo) and the Center for Social and Economic Behavior (C-SEB) of the University of Cologne
  • PhD (Psychology) with a focus on Behavioral Economics and Social Cognition
  • Doctoral Researcher at the Chair of Social Psychology (Prof. Dr. Fritz Strack) at the Julius-Maximilians-University Würzburg
  • Master in International Business Strategies at INSEEC Paris
  • Diploma in Economics at Julius-Maximilians-University Würzburg


  • Zürn, M. K., Gerten, J., & Topolinski, S. (2021). Maybe Favors: How to get More Good Deeds Done. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.
  • Ugular, P., Posten, A., & Zürn, M. K. (2021). Interpersonal Closeness Impairs Decision Memory. Social Psychology.
  • Gerten, J, Zürn, M. K., & Topolinski, S. (2021). The Price of Predictability: Estimating Inconsistency Premiums in Social Interactions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
  • Erle, T. M., & Zürn, M. K. (2020). Illusory Trust: Kanizsa shapes incidentally increase trust and willingness to invest. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 671-682.
  • Godinho, S., Garrido, M. V., Zürn, M., & Topolinski, S. (2019). Oral kinematics: examining the role of edibility and valence in the in-out effect. Cognition and Emotion 33, 1094-1098.
  • Zürn, M., & Strack, F. (2017). When more is better – Consumption priming decreases responders' rejections in the ultimatum game. Frontiers in Psychology, 8:2226
  • Zürn, M., & Topolinski, S. (2017). When trust comes easy: Articulatory fluency increases transfers in the trust game. Journal of Economic Psychology, 61, 74–86.
  • Topolinski, S., Zürn, M., & Schneider, I. K. (2015). What's in and what's out in branding? A novel articulation effect for brand names. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 585