The EADM Interview: Rui Mata

Rui MataWho are you, and what do you do?

I’m Rui Mata, an Assistant Professor for Cognitive and Decision Sciences at the University of Basel. I try to understand the life span development of judgment and decision making.

I have focused quite a bit on aging and the question of whether age-related changes impact decision abilities. As one may expect, the answer seems to be: It depends!

The impact of life span development on decision making seems to depend strongly on the demands of specific tasks or ecologies. For example, older individuals have difficulties making decisions involving sequential retrieval of attributes from memory but be on par with younger adults when information is conveniently summarized. In other words, an ecological perspective is needed to understand the impact of aging on specific decision tasks or domains.

What do you consider your most important research tool(s) on your computer to get research done (multiple responses are welcome)?

I use an eclectic mix of methods in my research, including meta-analyses, behavioral experiments, large-scale surveys, computational modeling, and, more recently, neuroimaging. Different tools are therefore required.

These days my favorite tool for data management, analysis, modeling, and creating figures is R. I used to rely more heavily on MATLAB and to some extent still do (such as for SPM), but R fulfills more and more of my computing needs. R seems to have almost everything one can think of (and more!). Moreover, when something is missing it usually doesn’t take long before some guy in a basement writes a free package to handle your problem. I’m also a big fan of R-Studio and Shiny

I switched to Apple about 5 years ago and I since use quite a bit of Apple-friendly software, including Mail (to manage different email accounts), Calendar (to manage private and shared calendars), Keynote (a very good alternative to Powerpoint), and Papers (a scientific literature management and citation software), among others.

I use Ms Word for word processing but I’m meekly looking for alternatives and I dream of a future in which I can easily generate a table in R that gets automatically read into a manuscript (without me having to become a LaTeX whiz or spend 4.5 hours formatting tables in R).

I program most experiments in E-prime, which I often regret because of numerous crashes, version incompatibility issues, and so on, but from my experience, the hurdle to whip-up a study is still lower than in C# or some MATLAB toolboxes.

I also use dedicated software for a few specific purposes, such as G*Power (to compute a priori power, how else would one do it?), GingerALE (for ALE meta-analyses), or Mango (for nifti visualization)

What do you consider your most important research tool(s) outside of your computer to get research done (multiple responses are welcome)?

The internet makes the top of the list, but a large monitor (for writing) and a printer (for printing papers!, yes, I’m that old school) are not to be scoffed at.

What is your favorite tip for getting writing done?

Make time and have a good night of sleep. Knowing the topic well and caffeine also help.

Curriculum Vitae Rui Mata

Rui’s favorite paper:

Mata, R., Schooler, L. J. & Rieskamp, J. (2007). The aging decision maker: Cognitive aging and the adaptive selection of decision strategies. Psychology and Aging22, 796-810.

The EADM Interview: Bernadette Kamleitner

Bernadette KamleitnerWho are you, and what do you do?

My name is Bernadette Kamleitner. I am professor of Marketing with a focus on Consumer Behavior and head of the Institute for Marketing and Consumer research at WU Vienna University of Economics and Business. What do I do? I either do things that I am fascinated about or I do things that make me question the things that I am fascinated about from very different angles. As is typical for professors at my institution I am part manager, part teacher, part public figure, and–of course–part researcher. Being at Austria’s primary business school means that I can often be involved in practitioner projects and that I cannot afford ignoring the practical relevance of my research.

It is research which primarily determines my professional self-construal. At most times this is in the face of my actual time commitments. Nonetheless, it is these other commitments that add well-needed spice and constant outside reflection to the research part of my job.  On top of it I feel that I owe it to my education, my institution and society to be available for transfer -in all directions.

I hold a PhD in Psychology and a PhD in Marketing and have held academic jobs in both fields. In my research agendas I fuse both sides of my academic background. I need to use the plural “agendas” because I am interested in and do research on a wide range of topics. Currently, the majority of my research concentrates on psychological ownership. I have been fascinated by the practical and theoretical power of one of the shortest possible words, MY, for years and I have been lucky to infect my team with this fascination. Research on psychological ownership asks how people come to experience objects as “mine” and how sense of ownership for an object influences cognitions, decisions and  behavior. To name just a few specific topics: we have investigated psychological ownership’s link to imagery as a processing mode and pre-decision experience, psychological ownership in the context of shared ownership, and the concept’s link to payment methods and object characteristics. Much more is under way.  We have been organizing an inspiring multi-disciplinary small conference on the topic  in 2013, will soon organize a symposium on it at ICAP in Paris, and are in the process of editing a special issue in  JBEE. Also watch out for a blog on the topic which we will start in late 2014.

What do you consider your most important research tool(s) on your computer?

Ever since starting with my first PhD Endnote has become invaluable to me. My data base now consists of more than 8000 sources of which I have at least read the abstracts. Since google scholar enabled the direct import into Endnote, Endnote’s use has increased for me even more. I use the keyword function a lot. Apart from topical keywords I often assign the names of the people I am working with on a project. This adds a very personal and for me valuable touch to it.  I know that endnote has for a couple of years lost its status as “the” referencing software but my sunk cost in the program are now so considerable that I keep my fingers crossed that it will be universally linked to references for many years to come.

There is a second program that has become invaluable to me, in particular, since I took on the job of full professor and head of institute. For the most part of the year I simply lack the time to focus on one paper for more than a few hours and yet in between tasks I get inputs and inspirations for many different projects. Keeping an overview and on the ball has become a real challenge. While I am a fast learner, I am not blessed with the best of memories. This means I have to capture ideas, sources, comments, mails etc. as soon as possible – ideally instantaneously – and to do so in a way that enables easy retrieval. If I had to open up different documents or folders for all the different projects I am working on (around 20 though many of them have been hibernating for substantial stretches of time), I simply would not manage to cope – I have tried. My solution is OneNote. I have a folder for research, teaching, admin, my team, conferences and other todos and have multiple subpages for all projects. Whenever I come across anything relevant, I just copy-paste into the ever open OneNote section. It is also a great way of keeping track of notes I take during conferences. What I love about it on top of its single-document character is that it auto-saves instantaneously and that I can draw on top of writing and pasting any type of document into it.  I hope to eventually end up having a laptop with a workable touchscreen  (on top of a first class keyboard and a non-reflecting screen) so that I can easily draw conceptual models and experimental designs by hand.

What do you consider your most important research tool(s) outside of your computer?

A chocolate powered mind residing in a body that sits in a comfortable chair with the legs resting on some foot stool or low window sill. Seriously, the mind is a demanding organ and it needs fuel to perform well. I love working in coffee shops or the open air but I never venture anywhere or even open the computer before making sure that I am surrounded by sufficient food and drink. This enables me to keep working wherever I am for as long as I feel productive. I am also not entirely beyond the paper and pen stage of my life. Whenever things get complicated I need to flash them out quickly in an easily amendable sketch. I also think that the experience of crossing out has clear conceptual advantages over deletion.

What is your favorite tip for getting writing done?

Commit yourself clearly. Apart from comfortable surroundings this is the trigger to get specific things done. Academic freedom is the bright side of the job but it throws a shadow. Except for third-party funded projects, there are hardly any deadlines. Even if there are, they have often been self-set and there are a myriad of convincing reasons (it is not even necessary to call them excuses) why these cannot be met. I find that committing towards other people, ideally collaborators, is one of the greatest pushes to cut through all the urgent things and get to the important things.

Webpage Bernadette Kamleitner

Bernadette’s favorite paper:

Kamleitner, B. and B. Erki (2013). Payment method and perceptions of ownership. Marketing Letters 24(1): 57-69.