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.