Robert Epstein, Ph.D.

Dr. Robert Epstein is Senior Research Psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT), as well as a contributing editor for Scientific American Mind and the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today magazine. 

A Ph.D. of Harvard University, he has published 15 books on artificial intelligence, creativity, and other topics, as well as more than 250 scientific and popular articles, including a 2015 report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) called “The Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME) and Its Possible Impact on Elections” (, which has since been downloaded from the PNAS website more than 75,000 times.

SEME is one of the largest behavioral effects ever discovered, and it is nearly invisible as a source of influence, which makes it especially dangerous. Dr. Epstein’s research suggests that SEME is currently determining the outcomes of upwards of 25 percent of the world’s national elections. Dr. Epstein has also shown that SEME has the power to affect a wide range of attitudes, opinions, beliefs and behavior, not just voting preferences. He has also tested an operant conditioning theory of SEME, which suggests that routine daily searches condition people to believe that higher-ranked search items are inherently truer than lower-ranked items. The more people come to believe this, the easier it is to shift their thinking on issues on which they are undecided.

In 2016, Dr. Epstein discovered that search suggestions can also be used to shift opinions and voting preferences, a phenomenon he calls the Search Suggestion Effect (SSE).

Dr. Epstein is also the founder and director emeritus of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, as well as the founding director of the Loebner Prize Competition in Artificial Intelligence, an annual Turing Test that has been conducted since 1990.

A thought leader in the behavioral sciences, Dr. Epstein is typically interviewed by journalists more than 50 times a year. You can find more information about his background and ongoing research projects at and

Robert Epstein, PhD (Follow me on Twitter @DrREpstein)
Senior Research Psychologist, American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology