Rachit Dubey

rdubey at princeton dot edu google scholar CV

I am currently a postdoc at MIT Sloan Marketing. I defended my dissertation in January 2023 at Princeton University, where I was part of Tom Griffiths' Computational Cognitive Science Lab.

Even in the absence of external rewards like money or food, we have internal motives that drive us to acquire information, pursue tasks, learn new things etc. What is it that drives us? Under what conditions do these drives become maladaptive? In my work, I employ computational modeling, behavioral experiments, and agent-based simulations to help develop a more complete picture of our intrinsic drives and motivations.

In my graduate work, I have focused on developing normative theories of curiosity and Aha! moments as well as developed interventions to pique people's curiosity for everyday scientific topics. My current research examines the human drive to keep wanting more. Beyond theoretical value, this line of work can potentially have impact on problems related to climate change and sustainability especially on curbing overconsumption.

With the climate crisis intensifying, it is more important than ever to understand human decision-making, and I believe that psychology can play a vital part in leading us to a more sustainable future. My ongoing and future research aims to expand this line of work by focusing on understanding and reducing climate inaction among the wealthy. Please feel free to get in touch if you want to collaborate on these ideas.

I am also an active member of climate justice organizations such as Princeton Student Climate Initiative and Divest Princeton. In the past, I have also organized the Combating the Climate Crisis with Cognitive Science workshop and also collaborated with the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center.

Here's a tribute written in the memory of my friend who got me started into research.

Selected publications

Public good messaging motivates the wealthy to reduce water consumption
Gordon Kraft-Todd*, Rachit Dubey*, Erez Yoeli, David Rand, and Syon Bhanot (under review)

Aha! moments correspond to meta-cognitive prediction errors
Rachit Dubey, Mark Ho, Hermish Mehta, and Tom Griffiths (under review)

The pursuit of happiness: A reinforcement learning perspective on habituation and comparisons
Rachit Dubey, Tom Griffiths, and Peter Dayan (2022). PLoS Computational Biology

Other languages: Deutschlandfunk, Nat Geographic

Top post of reddit r/science!

Reconciling novelty and complexity through a rational analysis of curiosity
Rachit Dubey, and Tom Griffiths (2020). Psychological Review

See also: Spotlight in TiCS and our review paper.

Investigating Human Priors for Playing Video Games
Rachit Dubey, Pulkit Agrawal, Deepak Pathak, Tom Griffiths, and Alexei Efros (2018).
International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML)

Selected Media: MIT Tech Review, Hitech, Slashdot

Play our games to explore your inner RL agent!

Watch the Arxiv Insights episode on our paper.