The EADM Interview: Adele Diedrich, Professor

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Adele Diederich, Doctor of Philosophy, and Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany. As typical for German universities, my position includes teaching and research. The main topic of my research is the study of information processing in various psychological contexts. I have worked, in particular, on sensory processes in perception and higher cognitive processes in decision making. My approach includes both the development of theories and models and their testing by experiment and empirical observation. In decision making I develop models for multiattribute decision problems which take into account both the dynamic and stochastic nature of decision making. My goal is to describe the motivational and cognitive mechanisms that guide the deliberation process in decisions.  I’m interested in why preferences waver over time and how long it takes to come up with a decision; how time pressure influences the decision; how conflict in multiattribute decision is solved; and how preference reversals can be explained by a dynamic approach. More applied research centers around prioritization in medicine. This is very different from basic research since politics also plays a role. Another area focuses on multisensory interaction, that is, the interaction of different modalities (vision, audition, touch) in space and in time. This research is inspired by neurophysiological evidence and might be of less interest to the JDM community.

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

 I’m a modeler, that is I develop models that are rather complex. Without my Matlab (this is computational software) I would be lost. It does all the parameter estimations which could not be performed by “hand”. Another very important tool is the search machine for finding articles on related work. Electronic access to all the data bases like Web of Science makes work so much easier and efficient.

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

This is definitely the laboratory. All the models I develop are tested in rigorous experiments in the lab. Since I’m interested in choices and decision times we need to collect choice frequencies and choice response times. And I also record eye movements. The experiments need to be highly controlled. This would be very difficult to do in the field. However, for decision making in the medical context, I apply (web based) questionnaires as well.

What is your favorite tip for getting writing done?

If you have a lot of other duties, like teaching and administration, try to reserve, if possible, at least one entire day of the week for writing, without interruption by students, meetings, or emails.

Where would JDM research be without gambles?

At JDM workshops or conferences, we are all supposed to be gamblers.  We are asked: Would you prefer a gamble with a probability of .7 to win € 75 and a probability of .3 to win € 235, or another one with a probability of .1 to win € 1000 and otherwise nothing? Would I prefer a gamble with a probability of .65 to win € 75 and a probability of .25 to win € 235, or another one with a probability of .15 to win € 1000 and otherwise nothing?

I would prefer neither. With most of these talks, if I do attend, I doze off. I think they are artificial tasks, with no links to the real world, at least not mine. Why not ask whether I prefer orange juice or beer? Whether I would choose a blind date with a bald-headed artist or a long-haired academic? That would say something about me. You could ask for my arguments, track my eyes while I am comparing the options, and find out what I pay attention to and what decision strategy I use. Ask many people, and you get really usable and interesting information.

I don’t choose between monetary gambles. Don’t I, indeed? To be honest I do: I deliberate about taking out travel insurance. Like many other people, I prefer certainty to gambles. If I take the insurance, I want to pay just enough that I am certain that I will win out if I have to claim. But often no such certainty can be had, and I tend to travel un-insured. The lack of certainty is manifest especially in health care. Let me illustrate this with a real world example (violating the rule that you should not argue from your own experience, or use “I know somebody who” arguments – but who is going to stop me!, and I hope you recognize one of your own dilemmas).

I once saw a tuberculosis consultant, with who I had the following conversation: Consultant: your test, which we asked you to come in for because somebody in your vicinity was found to have active TB, was positive. So take these pills for the next month, and do not combine them with alcohol or any other drug. Me: What does that mean: my test was positive? Consultant: That means that you have anti-bodies to TB, which suggests that you may have latent TB. Me: If you say ‘suggests that you may’, what chances are you talking about, how likely is it that I actually have it? Consultant: You do not have it now, and the anti-bodies may be the result of an earlier exposure to TB; the chances that you will develop it given this positive test are 5 %. Me: That is a low chance of a future event. And what do these pills do, are they any good at lowering those chances? Consultant: They are not foolproof; it is estimated that they lower the chances by 20 %. Me: So from 5 % to 4 %? Consultant (losing his composure): It would seem so, yes. Me: And are there any side effects of these pills? Consultant (sighing when realising I was a ‘difficult’ case): Yes there are possible side effects, some rather serious. He got quite uncomfortable, so I chose not to ask for specific details of the chances of each of the side effects, but announced my decision that I would not take the pills. He exclaimed: But everybody with a positive test takes them! As if that would convince me. After some more discussion he gave in, and agreed that not taking them was quite sensible, and that if I ever felt symptoms, there was still time enough to start taking them. I felt bad, for him, for being stubborn, for pretending to know better; but mostly I felt good, for not taking unnecessary medication. (For those of you who like closure: no signs of TB now, 20 years later (yet J)).

Is this gambling? The opposite: calculating, I would say. Gambling with my health, doctors would say. Am I risk averse or risk seeking? I would say the first, doctors would say the second. Interesting! What would you have done? Now if JDM researchers would study this type of gamble, their talks at conferences would be so much more interesting!

Maybe I’m stretching it. But you must admit: this is about real things, real choices (even though many people would not experience it as a choice, but just take those pills). We can find out about the probabilities of each outcome. So we can construct gambles that are not artificial, but that are about actual choices. Would we prefer to have chemo with a 70% chance of success and a 30 % chance of very serious side effects, or an operation with a 60 % chance of a cure and 40 % chance of death? As a mother, what would you prefer for your very sick child? This is the type of gamble that unfortunately many people today are faced with. It is also the type of gamble discussed at medical decision making conferences, where they present results of studies with real people facing real dilemmas. It would be a relief to hear such talks at JDM conferences and workshops too, instead of talks about winning or losing hypothetical money. You would want to know what type of people would make which choice, and why. Interesting! I would go to all those talks, and stay awake.


Cilia Witteman
July 3rd 2014

33rd Meeting of the European Group of Process Tracing Studies in Judgment and Decision Making

We are pleased to announce the next EGPROC meeting (European Group of Process Tracing Studies in Judgment and Decision Making), to take place in Salzburg, Austria, from 1st May to 3rd May 2014.
The EGPROC conference is an annual meeting of researchers interested in process tracing research in JDM (eye-tracking, computerized tools capturing information search [like MouseLab, or mouse tracking], verbal protocols, skin conductance resistance, …). It has a long-standing tradition reaching back to 1982 and since then is a highly stimulating event of leading European researchers working with process tracing approaches in JDM and neighboring fields.
Two types of contributions will be accepted: (i) standard presentations of 45 minutes allowing for ample discussion; (ii) work-in-progress presentations of 15 minutes. For submitting a contribution, please write an e-mail to containing the title of your presentation, your co-authors (if any), the type of submission (standard presentation; work-in-progess) and an abstract (max. 300 words) by 04th April 2014. We will quickly review your submission and get back to you within two work days.

Besides of the main conference on Friday and Saturday, we are also holding a pre-conference workshop on eye-tracking , and (ii) a panel discussion on what qualifies as a process model. The pre-conference workshop on the use of eye-tracking in JDM research will be held on Thursday, 1st May. This workshop will provide hands-on experience on doing eye-tracking research and a discussion of relevant issues in eye-tracking. It will be jointly held by Dr. Benjamin Gagl (University of Salzburg) and Dr. Frank Renkewitz (University of Erfurt).
The meeting will also include a panel discussion, on Saturday, 3rd May, on what process models are and how to define them. Jana Jarecki from the MPI of Human Development (Berlin) will give the input presentation inviting discussion.
Updated information about the conference and the registration can be found at the EGPROC homepage. We will keep you informed using the EGPROC mailing list (if you are not a member of the mailing list yet, you can join in here).

We are looking forward to see you in Salzburg.

The Organizing Committee (Anton Kühberger & Tom Scherndl)

2nd EADM JDM Summer School


The European Association for Decision Making (EADM) is pleased to announce its second Judgment and Decision Making (JDM) Summer School for PhD Students. It will take place from

Friday 15 August to Saturday 23 August 2014

at the

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn, Germany.

The Summer School will consist of a weeklong program of courses covering issues of methodology in Judgment and Decision Making (JDM) research including hands on courses on:

Methodology in JDM Research (Frank Renkewitz, University of Erfurt)
Current methodological debate, efficient research design & theory evaluation.
Cognitive Modelling  (Andreas Glöckner, University of Göttingen)
Understanding, implementing, and testing cognitive models of choice.
Bayesian Approaches to JDM   (Benjamin Scheibehenne, University of Basel)
Bayesian models for judgment and choice, Bayesian statistics and model comparison for JDM research.
Anti-social Decision Making and Cheating  (Shaul Shalvi, Ben Gurion University)
Investigating what and how JDM research can teach us about people’s (im)moral behaviors.
Introduction to Eye-tracking  (Susann Fiedler, MPI Bonn)
Eye-tracking as a tool for investigating cognitive processes in JDM including hands on experience with the technology.
Social Decision Making   (Carsten De Dreu, University of Amsterdam)
Investigating the basic structures of social dilemmas as they emerge in (small) groups of people and how this translates into (i) social decision, and (ii) negotiating agreement. Special attention will be given to cooperative choice and negotiation strategies among representatives who navigate personal interests, those of their constituents (in-group), and those of the rivaling out-group.

Accepted participants take part at the Summer School free of charge due to the generous funding by the EADM. Accommodation, food and travel costs are not covered.

To apply for the Summer School the following materials are required:

(a) 2-page CV that gives details of your academic achievements,

(b) summary of your PhD research (800-1000 words),

(c) short letter of recommendation (maximum of one page) from an academic with knowledge of your research (e.g., supervisor).

Please email your application in pdf format to:

by April 5th, 2014 with “EADM Summer School Application” in the subject line.

For further details you find the full call for applications here.



Happy 2014!

Dear decision making colleagues,

The board of your association wishes you the very best for 2014: health, happiness, and scientific success.

For EADM the future looks bright. We will have the second EADM Summer School in August 2014, in Bonn – look out for more information. It promises to be inspiring and informative.

The next SPUDM will be in Budapest in 2015 – a bit of a wait but sure to be great again.

We continue to support Jon Baron’s Journal of Judgment and Decision Making as our joint outlet with SJDM.

And do not forget to organise decision making workshops: funding is available! Check the website for more information.

Andreas Glöckner
Michel Handgraaf
Michael Schulte-Mecklenbeck
Barbara Summers
Cilia Witteman

Tell politicians what we know about good decision making

Recently I was asked to give a lecture about decision making for a governmental committee that assesses furlough requests of delinquents with a preventive detention, to advise the minister of Safety and Justice.
Since in my Presidential Address in Barcelona I had told all of us that we should tell politicians what we know about good decision making, I accepted. After a period of panic because of the audience (Important People: psychiatrists, judges) and because the topic was so general (Decision making: what to say? how to limit myself?) I decided to tell them the following.

Decision makers are expected to follow normatively correct rules of probability and logic, but they most probably rather follow psycho-logic. Examples are rife: people are often inconsistent, they take irrelevant information into account, see too many ‘special cases’, often do not learn from feedback, are influenced by recent experiences, and get tired and bored.
Furtive laughter from a captive audience; stupid people! Other people, yes maybe, but you are not talking about us surely!

Then I presented them with some classic decision problems, such as the Linda problem and the Asian disease, asking for their judgments. That silenced them. I explained that they were excused, since that is what people’s mental make-up looks like – we need to use heuristics to allow us to cope with our complex environment. Also I pointed out that these problems were not completely fair – how can you not use the representativeness heuristic: Linda is obviously not just a dull bank clerk; how can you not be influenced by frames: who wants to send hundreds of people to their deaths?
I quoted Freud, who, according to the psychoanalyst Theodor Reik, had once told him that for decisions of minor importance, he always found it useful to weigh all pros and cons. In matters of vital importance however, such as the choice of a partner or profession, he thought the decision needs to come from the unconscious, from somewhere within.

Indeed, the audience approved, that is how it is with people. You can make lists of pros and cons, but in your personal life you will still decide what feels good.

Then I showed how Darwin had decided to marry. He made two lists, one in favour of marriage and one against. In favour was the possibility of having children, having a companion, musical entertainment that is good for your mood. Against were things such as no freedom, forced visits to in-laws, and loss of time. In the end the list of pros was longer than that of against, and he decided to marry. Ironically the marriage was quite unhappy.

I proposed that from a human perspective, we obviously cannot avoid using intuitions. Indeed, many in the audience were eager to report instances in which they had relied on their intuitions. They saw a delinquent, and immediately knew what to decide. They felt rather proud of themselves at that point.

They again became a bit more modest after Frederick’s Cognitive Reflection Test. It took some people quite some time to realise that a ball cannot cost 10 cents when the bat and ball together cost $1,10 and the bat costs $1,00 more than the ball; some don’t believe it to this day.
I told them that this illustrates that we tend to use our intuition first, and only sometimes, when forced or upon second thought, correct our intuitions by reflection. But also that in many instances our immediate initial response is flawed.

We discussed intuition, and I convinced them (I hope ☺) that intuitions can be correct – provided they are well learned, in Robin Hogarth’s Kind Environment. Dangers should however not be underestimated: tunnel vision, overconfidence, and premature closure. But then again reflecting can also lead to wrong conclusions, so inaccuracy is not the prerogative of intuition.

Since they decide in a group, I showed them the two views on team decision making: Two heads are better than one; versus A camel is a horse designed by a committee. I pointed out dangers of groupthink and unthinkingly follow authority (Milgram being a case in point) versus profiting from the knowledge of your superiors. The bottom-line was that it is always best not to be prejudiced, not to overestimate your own decision making skills, to remain alert and to know the pitfalls, including your personal biases.

Why am I telling you all this? To remind us all that this is what we can and should do: tell policy makers what we know about the problems with decision making.

I am not overconfident that they will take all our warnings to heart. These psychiatrists and judges will still defer to the group, they will still advise more negatively about somebody who has tattoos of bimbo’s on his forceps than about a shy mister Nobody, they will base their decision on what they did previously with a similar delinquent – but maybe, just maybe they may sometimes think twice.
If we succeed in making some policy makers think twice before they make their decision errors, that might save lots of money and sometimes lives. Although that is probably arrogant, it does keep us focused.

So keep up the good work, and let the whole world know about it!

Cilia Witteman
December, 2013

Context-dependent consumer decision-making: An interdisciplinary inquiry

On June 17th, 2013, a one-day workshop entitled “Context-dependent consumer decision-making: An interdisciplinary inquiry” was held at the Department of Economics and Management (University of Trento, Italy). The meeting was jointly sponsored by the European Association of Decision Making and the Department of Economics and Management.

The workshop aimed to promote an interdisciplinary approach to the study of consumer decision-making with perspectives from psychology, (neuro)-marketing, behavioral economics, behavioral law and sociology. To that end, we conveyed invited speakers to discuss the theoretical, experimental and applied implications of the behavioral science of normal and abnormal consumer decision-making.

There were three keynote speakers: John Payne, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University (USA), Carolyn Yoon, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan (USA) and Barbara Fasolo, Department of Management, London School of Economics (UK). Also, there was an oral communication and poster session.

Payne addressed the role of context in consumer decision making by focusing on classic behavioral effects including his own pioneering studies on choice menu. Yoon presented the audience with an analysis of recent trends in consumer neurosciences, and an original study on brand neuro-marketing. Fasolo addressed the role of nudging consumers via the design of web-interfaces in the domain of health and tourism.

A selected group of oral communications followed. They addressed an aspect of the theme of the workshop. Also, a poster session took place.

For more detailed information on the content of the talks, and for those who are interested to download the slides, the University of Trento conference website is:

Slides are available here


9.30-17.30 – WORKSHOP – Room 2C – Monday 17/6

“Context-dependent consumer decision-making: An interdisciplinary enquiry”

9.20 Welcome  Nicolao Bonini (University of Trento)

9.30 -10.30 John Payne (Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, USA)

“How to decide: The Past and Future of Constructed Preferences”

10.30-11.30 Carolyn Yoon (Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, USA)

“The context-dependent nature of brand judgments: Insights from consumer neuroscience”

11.30-11.50 Coffee-break

11.50 12.50 Barbara Fasolo (Department of Management, London School of Economics, UK)

“Developing Adaptive Choice Architecture”


14.15-15.15 Poster session (coffee-break room)

Buddhiprabha Pathirana, Evan Fradkin, Cinzia Giorgetta, Cinzia Calluso, Inga Jonaityte, Gianluca Finotti, Tokarchuk Oksana, Francesca De Petrillo, Andrea Galentino, Alessandro Grecucci, Andrea Rattin, Cesare Guerreschi, Alan G. Sanfey, Nicolao Bonini, Annalisa Tosoni, Giovanni Pezzulo, Giorgia Committeri, Riccardo Boero, Annalisa Garis, Marco Novarese, Maurizio Tirassa, Laura Vella, Ponsi, G., Delfino, A., Addessi, E., Paglieri Fabio, Xiaolei Zhou, Joseph G. Johnson

15.15-16.30 – Talks – Room 2C

15.15-15.40 Kim Kaivanto (Dept. of Economics, Lancaster University)

“Asymmetric Dominance and Compromise Effects as Manifestations of Choice Without Preference”.

15.40-16.05 Michele Graffeo, Luca Polonio, Nicolao Bonini (University of Trento)

“Looking for the best deal: How numeracy and reflexive thinking are associated with fast and slow processes”.

16.05-16.30 Michela Balconi, Beniamino Stumpo, Valeria Trezzi,Ylenia Canavesio (Catholic University of Milan; Foundation Research Organization GTechnology, Modena)

“Choice and preference in neuromarketing. Neuropsychological, autonomic and cognitive measures in response to different emotional-valenced products”.

16.30-16.50 Coffee-break

16.50-17.40 Talks 4/9

16.50 -17.15 Martina Reitmeier, Jutta Roosen (Dept. of Marketing and Consumer Research, Technische Universität München) “The impact of life transitions on food consumption decisions – Analysis of older consumers”

17.15-17.40 Giuseppe Bellantuono (University of Trento)

“Nudge policies everywhere?”

Additionally to the three keynotes and presenters (oral and poster communications) we had several participants who contributed to the discussion through all workshop works. Overall, slightly less than 50 participants took part at the workshop contributing to a deep interdisciplinary discussion on the role of context on consumer decision making. The represented disciplines ranged from psychology, economics, law, management, marketing, neurosciences, and sociology. We think that this accomplished the goal of promoting a deeper and multi-perspectives comprehension of complex phenomena such as that of consumer-decision making processes.

We thank the European Association for Decision Making (EADM), and the Department of Economics and Management for their financial support. The University of Trento (Conference Division), and the Italian Association of Cognitive Sciences (AISC) are also thanked for their organizational support.


Scientific and Organization committee

Prof. Dr. Nicolao Bonini (Chairman),

Prof. Dr. Luigi Mittone,

Dr. Marco Cruciani, (AISC representative)

Prof. Dr. Umberto Martini,

6th JDM workshop for young researchers @ MPI Berlin

The 6th JDM workshop for young researchers was held at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin from July 17th to the 19th!

The workshop is a scientific event that combines the best features of a workshop and a conference. Its objective is to provide an opportunity for young researchers to network and discuss their research in a relaxed environment. The workshop was incepted in 2008 at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn, Germany, when a small group of PhD students decided that there was a need for young researchers to network and collaborate independently of senior researchers. Since then the workshop has constantly grown from year to year. The workshop has been held at the University of Mannheim (Germany), once more at the MPI in Bonn, and twice at the University of Basel (Switzerland).

Traditionally the organization team is recruited bottom-up from past participants to ensure continuity between years in layout and spirit. At the conclusion of last year’s workshop in Basel, Dirk Wulff and Nathaniel Phillips, two PhD students at the MPI for Human development, offered to host the workshop in Berlin. They thought the MPI for Human Development was particularly suited for this event as two of the four large research groups at the institute (the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, “ABC”, and the Center for Adaptive Rationality, “ARC”) conduct world-leading research on judgment and decision making rendering it one of the foremost institutions on JDM research in Europe.

Screen Shot 2013-08-18 at 1.14.59 PM

Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin


We received a total of 46 abstract submissions from pre-docs and post-docs coming from 13 different countries located on 4 continents – all records for the workshop. To ensure that all participants had opportunities to present and receive feedback, we instilled two changes to the workshop from previous years. First, we extended the workshop from the previous 2.5-day schedule to a full 3 days. Second, in addition to the traditional 15-minute talk and 15-minute discussion format, we created a new short presentation format with a 5-minute talk and 5-minute discussion. Using this new format, we were able to accept a total of 36 participants with everyone contributing an oral scientific presentation.

Participants in this year’s workshop had a diverse set of backgrounds, including Psychology, Organizational Behavior, Management, and Computer Science coming from a total of 24 different scientific intuitions around the world. The topics ranged from the very applied (e.g. Overconfidence and Entrepreneurial choice under Ambiguity by Anisa Shyti, HEC Paris Business School) to the very cognitive (Using computer mouse movements to parse the temporal dynamics of value-based-choices by Nicolette Sullivan, California Institute of Technology). Despite this wide range of research methods, there was however still a pronounced overlap in research questions as illustrated by the wordcloud from all accepted abstracts.


Wordcloud created from all accepted abstracts

Keynote and Workshops

The workshop program also offered a keynote and two exciting workshops from experts in the field of judgment and decision making. For the keynote we were privileged to have Prof. Gerd Gigerenzer share his extensive experience as a researcher in a 90min advice session for young scientists titled “Publishing without perishing”. In his talk, Prof. Gigerenzer shared “5 ways to perish in publishing” (e.g.; “Ignore the reviewer’s points and interpret them as personal insults”), as well as 5 ways to increase your chances to publish (e.g.; “Be honest about the limitations of your research”). On the second day our invited speaker Prof. Gabriele Paolacci from the University of Rotterdam (Department of Marketing Management) demonstrated the benefits and risks of the Amazon Mechanical Turk for JDM research. Participants learned how the Amazon Mechanical Turk works as a general platform for crowdsourcing that offers a more diverse subject population and lower costs (time and money) than traditional participant pools. Besides, methodological questions and concerns of the participants were addressed in an extensive discussion. On the third day Dr. Mirjam Jenny and Dr. Stefan Herzog from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development gave a joint presentation on current political and methodological developments in the field of psychology in response to the recent cases of scientific misconduct and fraud. Their presentation provided a review of new developments, such as the Simonsohn’s p-curve method of detecting false positive results and encouraged participants to join the Open Science Framework to promote transparency in research. Finally, participants were given a hands-on demonstration of Bayesian statistical inference for standard statistical tests – including a simple web-page interface for conducting completely Bayesian “t-tests” based on Kruschke’s paper “Bayesian estimation supersedes the t-test.”

While the scientific presentations and workshops constituted a rich program during the day the workshop program also had a social program for participants to continue research discussions and share their experiences as young academics. On Wednesday and Friday we went out to restaurants in different areas of Berlin. On Thursday, we organized an official workshop BBQ for all participants and invited speakers together on the Max Planck Institute garden terrace.


Impressions of the workshop 

Thank you!

The workshop was an overwhelming success and could not have been realized without the generous support from the European Association of Decision Making. Without the funding, we could not have invited external speakers, provided the workshop material, and offered coffee and refreshments to keep participants’ energy levels high throughout the workshop!


Not only due to the success of this year the workshop’s continuation is already in planning. Next year Felix Henninger and Pascal Kieslich, who helped in the organization of this year’s workshop, will head the organization committee of the 7th JDM Workshop for young researchers at the University of Mannheim. We are looking forward to another great workshop featuring many interesting talks from international young JDM researchers and exciting lectures from experts in our field. Details will be announced this winter.

Organization committee

Dirk U. Wulff (chair)
Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Nathaniel D. Phillips
Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Felix Henninger
University of Mannheim

Pascal J. Kieslich
University of Mannheim

Michael Schulte-Mecklenbeck
Max Planck Institute for Human Development