The EADM Interview: Tim Rakow

Tim Rakow

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Tim Rakow, and I have been teaching and researching in the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex since 2000. Much of my teaching focuses on methods for psychological research. I particularly enjoy teaching statistics to psychology students, and have – over the years – taught statistics at each level of our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. I have worked my way around a number of different JDM research topics over the years: from a PhD on medical decision making in paediatric heart surgery; via research on probabilistic inference from cues (e.g., Take The Best), and the deliberation-without-attention effect; to recent investigations of valuation, risk communication, and risky choice (especially decisions from experience). I have attended each SPUDM since 1999.

What do you consider your most important research tools on your computer?

Probably Real Studio (for Real/Visual-Basic), which I use to implement most of my computer-based studies. I see myself as more of an experimenter than a theoretician, so having a nice flexible tool that I can use to run a wide variety of studies is essential to my research.

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

My collaborators.

What is your favorite tip for getting writing done?

Do it with someone else. I see a number of benefits to this. First, I feel that I get more done when working to deadlines agreed with my co-authors than when working to deadlines that I set for myself on individual writing projects. I think this tells me that anticipated guilt is a better motivator than anticipated self-loathing. Second, the emotional component of writing (responding to reviews, making that difficult cut to the text) becomes much easier when there is someone else who on the project who can adopt a different role, or see things from a different angle. Third, writing with others just makes the whole process more interesting, and more fun. I’ve learned or developed some of my favourite paper-writing words (“prosaic”, “intriguing”), phrases (“in doing so” is a new one for me) and sentence constructions (I love using first-person plural) from writing with others. Some of my favourite writing experiences are when I get to write alongside a co-author (at the same computer). In particular, a few of my projects with long-term collaborator Ben Newell have been completed this way … gently wrestling the computer mouse and keyboard from each other, or dictating small sections of text to one another … turning what could be a rather solitary endeavour into something more sociable is a treat. You can learn a great deal from your co-authors, and I certainly feel that they need not be senior to you for this to be so.

Tim’s webpage

Tim’s favorite paper:

Rakow, T., Demes, K.A., & Newell, B.R. (2008). Biased samples not mode of presentation: Re-examining the apparent underweighting of rare events in experience-based choice. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 106, 168-179.




The EADM Interview: Cornelia Betsch

Cornelia BetschWho are you, and what do you do?

I am a psychologist at the University of Erfurt where I work at the Center for Empirical Research in Economics and Behavioral Science. My current major research motivation is to enlighten vaccine hesitancy – i.e. to understand why people do not vaccinate and finally to contribute to public health goals such as measles elimination. Additionally, I would like to improve evidence-informed health communication. I do this by applying an experimental JDM approach, combined with a strategic interaction perspective to basic and applied questions. My credo is that good research strives for a fundamental understanding of scientific problems and, at the same time, for high usability to solve societal problems. This perspective on research is also known as Pasteur’s Quadrant (really interesting work by Stokes, 1997). Thus, making contributions to understand basic questions is as important to me as making findings usable for practice. Working with colleagues from other disciplines and health organizations is key to me, as my work combines ideas and approaches from psychology, epidemiology, and economics.

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

Safari, Word, SPSS – very simple. Email is great to be in touch with co-workers, but it is the greatest enemy of effective working, too. Sometimes I also follow twitter – it’s a great way to see what happens among practitioners, but actually I feel that it is too time-consuming.

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

Talking and listening to practitioners has become my most influential, favorite, important, and fun research tool. Listening to what practitioners struggle with and mapping this to my theoretical ideas and understanding is very inspiring and has created some successful research ideas. I get the chance to listen to practitioners after invited talks or advanced trainings of doctors, or during my work in committees such as the European Technical Advisory Group of Experts in Immunization (ETAGE, WHO, regional office for Europe) or the National Verification Committee for the Elimination of Measles and Rubella (Robert Koch Institute, German Ministry of Health).

What is your favorite tip for getting writing done?

Turn off your email program. Or travel. Airports, trains, waiting rooms are perfect – you will not miss out on anything sitting there, listening to Bach, writing. I recommend Bach’s Goldberg Variations – they deliver a constant flow for a steady rhythm of typing and mask superfluous noise and thoughts.

Webpage Cornelia Betsch

Curriculum vitae Cornelia Betsch

Cornelia’s favorite paper:

Betsch, C., Böhm, R., & Korn, L. (2013). Inviting free-riders or appealing to pro-social behavior? Game theoretical reflections on communicating herd immunity in vaccine advocacy. Health Psychology, 32(9):978-85.



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.



Getting things done

Utilizing little helpers to get our daily research work done become more important every year. We crowdsource the knowledge of our society’s member in the EADM Interview on a monthly base. Now there is another source for such information. Nature started a series called The digital Toolbox in which software literacy is a central aim. Here is the first contribution on How to tame the flood of literature coming in every day.


The EADM Interview: Robin Hogarth

Robin Hogarth

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Robin Hogarth and I am Emeritus Professor in the Department of Economics and Business at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain where I have been since about 2000. Before that I was at the University of Chicago for some 20 years. Two questions have driven my research agenda over my career: (1) How do people make decisions? (2) How can you help people make better decisions? My research is thus very much mainstream judgment and decision making. My work involves three activities: (1) I teach in our MSc program and also work with PhD students, (2) I work on my own research projects, and (3) I help run the PhD program in my department. Officially I am “emeritus” but I still seem to spend a lot of time at the office.

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

The most important research tool on my computer is simply the access it provides to the internet and email. This allows me to be in easy contact with many people all over the world, to follow developments in the literature, and so on. I don’t think that young researchers today (who have effectively always known the internet) realize just how valuable this is. Of course, I also appreciate the word processing capacity of the desktop computer as well as the ability to handle and analyze datasets without having to do battle with mainframes.

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

Outside of my computer, my most valuable research “tool” is my network of contacts with colleagues (both at my university and elsewhere), students, and former students. I feel that I am part of a large “discussion” and this constantly informs and animates my work.

What is your favorite tip for getting writing done?

I don’t really have tips for writing. I quite enjoy doing it and I always know that it will take me many re-writes to say precisely what I want and how I want. (In this, the computer is really useful). I keep firmly in mind some principles of good writing that I learned when I was a PhD student many years ago at the University of Chicago. I am more effective at writing in the mornings (my best time) and I am incapable of writing when there are distracting noises. (I find it difficult, for example, to write with music in the background).

Webpage Robin Hogarth

Robin’s favorite book:

Hogart, R.M. (2001). Educating Intuition. University of Chicago Press.


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.