The future of EADM: Four years later

Written by Nicolao Bonini

Following SPUDM in Warsaw, Robin Hogarth addressed, in the first Presidential column, the issue of what EADM can do besides supporting SPUDM conferences. The three long-term goals that he listed all relate to how to “increase the image of decision research in Europe – to have positive effects on research funding, academic positions, and influence that reflects our unique knowledge”. There follow some comments and proposals.

1. Funding of research / teaching initiatives. This, I think, is a crucial aspect. We should do our best to foster initiatives among EADM members. One way to do so is use national funding allocated to support international cooperation (e.g. to support foreign principal investigators, incoming visiting scholars or students). Another way is to take advantage of European programmes – some are designed to strengthen relationships with extra-European countries. Those programmes could support research networks, but also European master courses, summer schools, or joint doctoral programmes. Posting news, announcing calls, or requesting collaboration on our webpage is a way to make EADM members aware of those opportunities (in Kingston-upon-Thames, the Board decided to hire a web-content manager who could also attend to these aspects). However, greater participation is needed to keep our website alive and updated. I wonder if we could do more. For example, appoint an EADM representative who would attend inception meetings at relevant European institutions, taking a propositive role as well as informing EADM members about discussions at those meetings that might be of relevance for J/DM scientists.

2. Decision research community. In the 1960s, there was a distinct European response to the growing interest in decision research, and SPUDM was its main manifestation. An article by Charles Vlek on “A Brief History of SPUDM” will be soon published on our website; future articles/comments will be welcome. We should do more to enhance our identity: not only for the benefit of young students but also for those not in academia (e.g., inform politicians and policy makers about competences available in our community – see next point). We are still collecting material, such as pictures and SPUDM programmes, that will be uploaded on our website. The aim is to give a pictorial history of that initiative and early ideas. All EADM members are encouraged to participate by sending relevant material to Michael Schulte-Mecklenbeck.

3. Beyond academia. I recall discussions with Maule, Hogarth and members of the Board/Association on how to improve the image of our research community outside academia. One suggestion was to use PR to publicize SPUDM and EADM workshops to a broader audience. This is certainly something that should be done. Let me share with you the experience of organizing SPUDM in Rovereto. We made an effort to publicize it widely (e.g., coverage in national newspapers, and national broadcasting of interviews with invited speakers). I believe that there was a substantive return on this effort. I came into contact with people from other disciplines, as well as with policy makers and various stakeholders. This could be done more systematically by a professional PR hired to publicize EADM members’ work, as was suggested many years ago. Alternatively, we could recruit a young scientist with good writing skills who could write regular J/DM research digests1.We could also try to create positive synergies with our sister society, the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, by, for example, organizing a joint EADM-SJDM workshop on “hot” topics that might also be of interest to the general public.

There are many things to do, and many others not yet thought of! So, please, do not hesitate to use our webpage (or to contact me or members of the Board) to offer your comments and your assistance.

Note 1: Thanks to Gaelle for suggestion.

Weighting value and fit in academia

Written by Ilana Ritov

I would like to share with the readers my thoughts about three different issues I have recently been asked to consider and express my opinion about. I believe many of us encounter these questions, and some may have very different answers. The first issue involved hiring new faculty. Candidates were considered for a job opening in my department. As is so often the case, two leading candidates emerged. One of them is doing highly interesting work, and pursuing issues that seem to me important. The other’s work is somewhat less exciting, but is considered to better fit the departmental “needs”. I argued in favour of the former candidate, apparently weighting the intrinsic value of theresearch over and above the matching of the candidate’s interests with those of the department.

The second issue concerned a paper submitted to the journal Judgment and Decision Making, in which I serve as an associate editor. I found the paper highly interesting, as did the other members of the editorial board who read it. However, doubts were raised whether this paper should be published in a JDM journal. The paper did not examine choices, but compared evaluations of health related issues across countries and expertise levels. The decision whether to accept the paper for publication clearly rests on consideration of quality (in this case interest) vs. fit.

Finally, another problem I had to consider recently is whether to allow a student in the conflict management program I chair to take, as an elective, a class about “urban planning from the perspective of sub-populations”. The class would (hopefully) be stimulating and could provide a background that is relevant to some conflict management analyses, but it is not directly related to the core of the program. The student wanted to take the class because she was very interested in the topic. I thought this was a good enough reason, and approved her request.

Needless to say, the three problems are very different in many respects. However, thinking about these three problems simultaneously, I realized they all involve weighting of two major attributes: intrinsic value and fit. Intrinsic value, in our domain, typically refers to how interesting we find the object, be it a research program, an individual paper, or a specific class. The fit is the degree to which the topic matches some pre-defined domain characteristics. More precisely, we think of the extent to which the topic is close to the prototypical exemplar of a category with fussy boundaries.

One factor that has been shown to affect attribute weighting is ‘evaluability’. The easier it is to evaluate an attribute the greater the weight it carries. Perhaps due to the interdisciplinary nature and vague boundaries of our field, it seems to me that we as JDM-researchers find quality easier to evaluate than fit. This suggests that I may have assigned too much weight to quality/interest relative to fit.

Do I overweight one attribute relative to the other? A quick search of the vast literature on attribute weighting did not yield any clear conclusions. Incoherent preferences related to changes in attribute weighting are abundant. However, perhaps due to some self-serving bias, I cannot easily think of another framing in which my preferences with respect to the choices described above would have been different.

“Cool stuff” vs. “incremental” in JDM research

Written by Ilana Ritov

In my previous column I argued for weighting intrinsic value over and above fit. One of the examples I gave involved an editorial decision about a paper. I suggested that the main goal of a journal should be to publish interesting papers. In this column I want to raise the question of what an interesting paper is or should be. This question is also linked to the increasingly criticized criteria for publication.

A few years ago, in a conference that brought together social psychologists and JDMers, I overheard a group of JDMers criticizing the “merely illustrative role” data seems to play in the mostly theoretical talks of the social psychologists, while the social psychologists, for their part made fun of the “found an effect” talks of the JDMers. This exchange may have been incidental, reflecting the views of the individual researchers more than the characteristics of their domains. However, I do find myself wondering whether the current JDM research is really becoming more and more the “found a (bizarre) effect” type?

In his recent paper in Perspectives on Psychological Science Paul Rozin suggests that in evaluating empirical papers, too much emphasis is given to faultless experimental design, at the expanse of the contribution of the research to our understanding of human behavior ( When we find an effect, he says, “we are not rewarded for looking at the generality of the effect. Is it a fragile result of a carefully selected set of parameters? Or is it robust and operative across many situations and/or populations?” In the same paper Rozin expresses a critical view of our field’s overarching embrace of hypothesis-testing methodology. While I do not share his view regarding the role of hypothesis testing, I believe Rozin’s critique of the insufficient weight assigned to establishing the robustness of phenomena is on the mark. Reexamination of the highly conspicuous data on “the benefits of unconscious thinking” provides an exemplary exception, and a demonstration of the need for such research (Gonzales-Vallejo& Phillips; Calvillo & Penzloza; for a meta-analysis see Acker

I believe that the “found an effect” trend is at least partly driven by the policies of the top journals, most notably “Psychological Science”, the flagship journal of APS. As the editor of Psychological Science described it, he would like to publish “…the type of paper you would want to go down the hallway to psychologists who are not in your specialty area and say, ‘Look at this! This is really cool stuff’”. (

But what is “cool stuff”? Granted, much of the literature is about exploring the causes and boundary conditions of effects. However, a complex analysis showing that a meaningful non-trivial effect occurs under some conditions but not under other conditions is likely to be dubbed “incremental”, certainly less “cool” than a surprising counterintuitive simple effect. While most of us, including myself have a taste for the counterintuitive, “cool stuff” that appeals to a large audience seems too likely to be the result of simplified overgeneralization or disputable analyses and could turn out to be more misleading than enlightening. Thus, the wish to appeal to a wider audience, and the considerable benefits that publishing in such journals entails, often results in a chase after this illusive “hit”.

Responding to similar sentiment of discontent with the way ideas and methodological issues are treated within JDM, Andreas Gloeckner and Ben Hilbig proposed a special issue of JDM journal on “Methodology of Judgment and Decision Making Research” ( The special issue they will edit will be asking whether it is sufficient to investigate effects, or do we need more complete models and ways of testing that would allow us to select between competing models. I hope this special issue will help elucidate some of the more fundamental methodological questions in our field, and will promote further the discussion of what the ingredients of an interesting and valuable paper are.

The future of EADM

Written by Robin Hogarth

As a professional organization, EADM is a strange animal. It comes to life every two years for the SPUDM conference and then essentially hibernates in the interim. In fact, SPUDM predates EADM and it is important to recall that EADM was created to ensure the continuity of SPUDM conferences. So perhaps that’s all it should do?

And yet, several members feel that EADM should be more than just a support for SPUDM. Some question – with no little justification – the return they get for their annual membership dues. After all, SPUDM conferences are supposed to be self-financing.

Last year, as President of EADM, John Maule instigated a series of reflections on this topic amongst the EADM board members. As your new President, I reported on the substance of these discussions at the recent business meeting in Warsaw at SPUDM 21. However, few members attended the business meeting – and since I feel that we had some important things to say – I am taking this opportunity to report on what we said and to solicit your aid.

Attendance at SPUDM conferences – as well as the high quality of the many contributions – attests to the interest and talent for decision making research in Europe. However, this talent and interest is not matched by institutional support. One reason, I feel, is that we are all so busy doing our own “thing” that we fail to see how we can create synergies for all. For example, we miss out collectively on the many individual successes of our members. I strongly believe that when one of our members is successful professionally we should all rejoice in the achievement and literally take and enjoy some of the credit. A further important problem is that we lack information about what is going on in different parts of Europe and people from outside our organization have very little idea about what we do.

Given these issues, let me be more concrete and specify what the Board considers long-term goals for EADM that go beyond just supporting SPUDM conferences. There are three main goals:

  1. To create more opportunities for research funding for our members. Currently, this is difficult because each country in Europe jealously deals with its own funding and we need to compete with established disciplines. However, with the advent of the new European Research Council that hopes to operate like the National Science Foundation in the US, things might change – see Clearly, EADM must be aware of what is going on here and be prepared to intervene if necessary, e.g., in the short-term let the ERC know that we exist!
  2. To create positions in academic and related institutions for decision researchers. As anyone involved in placing recent PhD’s on the academic job market knows, Europe is not a seller’s market. There are many barriers and difficulties that result from both our nationalistic tendencies and the lack of regular decision making positions in academic departments.
  3. To have the input of decision researchers in important policy decisions affecting our lives as European citizens. As you are no doubt aware, it is quite normal in many policy debates to seek the input of academic economists and sociologists. Moreover these social scientists are typically willing to provide opinions on issues where, in fact, the findings of decision research might be more relevant. Consider, for example, providing people with information about risks, product safety, and other related topics.

In short, the goals of the Board are to increase the image of decision research in Europe – to have positive effects on research funding, academic positions, and influence that reflects our unique knowledge.

These goals were well-received by the few members who attended the business meeting in Warsaw but the real question is how to achieve them. In the short-term, several actions can be taken:

  1. Initiate discussions with the new European Research Council. Your President has some contacts here and will follow up on this.
  2. Continue to fund small conferences such as we have been doing for the last two years. However, people sponsoring such conferences will be required to investigate their PR potential (see immediately below).
  3. Investigate ways in which EADM can use PR to publicize SPUDM, the small conferences, work done by EADM members, and any other newsworthy activities. John Maule’s son has a small PR firm in London and is willing to help us on this pro bono (the only cost is that he should be allowed to advertise EADM as one of his clients). Clearly we are at an early stage on this project – help is needed!
  4. Develop an attractive and active webpage. In today’s world, we believe this to be essential. The webpage should be something that members access on a regular basis, where you find up-to-date information about what research is going on, funding opportunities, job opportunities, interesting ideas for teaching, and so on. The list of topics is limited only by our lack of imagination. In short, the webpage should become a “living newsletter.” In early brainstorming on this idea, we also thought of having different access points for different people who might be interested in our webpage – members, university administrators, the general public… To move things forward, we have appointed GaëlleVillejoubert to lead a “task force” to develop a web that we can be proud of. So, if you have ideas, please contact Gaëlle. As President of EADM, I strongly believe that it is in our collective interest to allocate some of our budget to this project. The webpage is our face to the world.
  5. I also intend to discuss with Board members of our sister society, the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, whether there are any ways of creating positive synergies between our two organizations along the lines mentioned above.

Finally, if you have any reactions to the above, please contact me or any of the Board members. Our goal is to promote decision research in Europe.

Let’s upgrade posters

Written by Robin Hogarth

This past week, I have spent some time “judging” abstracts for a conference and it got me to think a bit about the purpose of these conferences, their value, and whether they could be better organized.

It is clear that most scientists enjoy going to conferences. In addition to direct work relevance, it is fun to visit different countries and cities, to connect with old friends and to meet others for the first time. The first conferences I attended were at the beginning of the 1970s and I still meet people from those days at different events.  We rarely connect between events but when we do it’s always fun.  I once heard Sarah Lichtenstein mention these kinds of relationships – she used the expression “conference friends.” I also remember the excitement I experienced at those first conferences of actually meeting the people whose papers I had been reading.

In the intervening years, my sense is that conferences on judgment and decision making have increased in frequency, type, and scope. In the early days, those attending the SPUDM and SJDM conferences could fit into a single meeting room and all sessions were plenary. I don’t know if all submissions for presentations were accepted, but my guess is that it was a high percentage. Nowadays, we have parallel sessions, poster sessions, and many papers don’t get accepted for presentation. Fortunately, however, these large conferences are not the only events that take place and recent years have seen an increase in the number of smaller conferences – or meetings – dealing with specific topics.  I personally find these latter events most useful. It is wonderful to think that in the same room you can have assembled almost all the people in the world who are working on the same topic as yourself!   It is an incredible opportunity to exchange concrete ideas.

Given the high value of the smaller meetings, the natural question to ask is whether these will not eventually replace the larger meetings. In other words, if one can attend a few smaller meetings, why bother attending the larger meetings? And this is particularly the case if one has to compete (by submitting an extended abstract) to the organizers of the larger conferences.

What will happen?  Before making any predictions, it may be interesting to examine what has happened in other scientific disciplines. My impressions (not based on hard data) are the following.  First, like all good JDM types, let’s think base rates. I suspect that if you look at all scientific societies, most have grown internationally in recent years. There is just a lot of activity and this has been facilitated by the ease with which we can now travel and communicate across borders. Second, as knowledge advances and essentially becomes more specialized, this is matched by the organizational structures of scientific societies. Thus, one either gets new societies being launched or the older societies create new divisions. This is clearly visible when one thinks about the development of journals in the fields related to judgment and decision making. I suspect that the key variable in all this is the number of active scientists in any field. That is, for a field to be viable on its own (i.e., hold regular meetings, publish journals, and so on) there needs to be a certain minimum number of researchers. I don’t know what this minimum is nor where EADM lies precisely on the distribution of societies but it would be intriguing to attempt a sociological study of this type. Moreover, given the obsession that people seem to have with impact factors and numbers of citations, I would not be surprised to learn that people have started to address these issues using these kinds of data in relation to membership of professional societies. In short, it would be interesting to have some more concrete evidence about the way in which scientific societies have been established, grown (or not grown), broken up, continued or just faded away. What factors distinguish the societies that are more and less “successful”?  I suspect that there are some fascinating regularities in all of this as well as illuminating exceptions.

But let me be more prosaic and get back to the current reality of decision making research where many papers are rejected for the major meetings. Is there anything that can be done about this?  The present system is that most conferences entrust the reading of abstracts to a committee of referees. Moreover – as I have been led to believe– inter-rater reliability of the referees is far from perfect (and having been a referee I understand. It is a very difficult task!)  But what, we can ask, is the alternative?  One might be to select papers at random (e.g., if only 40% of papers can be selected, every applicant has an explicit 40% chance and there are rules to avoid people submitting multiple papers.) Variations on this theme could involve letting people’s odds depend on different characteristics such as whether they presented at the previous conference. However, one can easily see how that could easily induce many dysfunctional consequences. As an experiment, I am intrigued by the notion of applying the random rule and then seeing whether this actually changes the experience of the conference as experienced by the participants (just kidding! This could lead to all kinds of problems!) In short, I think we are “stuck” with using referees in the same way that we need referees for journals and grant reviews. They are not perfect but it is really hard to come up with a better alternative.

In conferences, however, there is an alternative to the presented paper or symposium. This is the poster and my suggestion is that we need to take actions that make this option more attractive to potential attendees. I will be honest and say that, in general, I prefer making a live presentation to an audience as opposed to presenting a poster. At the same time, however, each time I have presented a poster I have received more insightful comments than the usual reactions to a 20-minute presentation.  What I think is needed are ways to make posters more attractive to presenters so that they are not just a “consolation” for those who fail to have their papers accepted (or a way to ensure funding to attend the conference).

Postdoc Opportunity at UCLA

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship: Uncertainty Lab at UCLA & Consumer Credit Research Institute

The Uncertainty Laboratory at UCLA (PI: Craig R. Fox, and the Consumer Credit Research Institute (PI: Christopher Trepel, are seeking applications for 1-2 postdoctoral research fellowships to investigate topics in behavior decision research, especially as applied to consumer financial decision making.  Although the postdocs will be fully funded by the CCRI they will be administered by the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Uncertainty Lab at UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)
The Uncertainty Laboratory research group investigates judgment and decision making under uncertainty, dynamics of decisiveness, and applications of behavioral decision research to health and public policy.  We use a variety of methods including surveys, laboratory and field experiments, analysis of archival data, and neuroimaging.  The position will primarily entail working with Dr. Fox but will also provide opportunities for independent research and/or work with other members of the Interdisciplinary Group in Behavioral Decision Making at UCLA (see

Consumer Credit Research Institute (San Diego, CA)
The CCRI is dedicated to understanding financially distressed consumer behavior. In collaboration with experts from both industry and academia, we apply tools and methods from statistics, psychology, and economics to answer fundamental questions about financial decision-making. The CCRI was launched in June 2011 by Encore Capital Group (NASDAQ: ECPG), and benefits from the company’s industry-leading consumer credit database and analytic focus. Our relationship with low- and middle-income Americans provides a unique perspective on household consumption and saving behaviors, and we hope to advance thinking in the areas of public policy, financial education, and business operations. More information about the CCRI is available at

Role(s) and Desired Qualifications
We are broadly interested in financial decision-making, but are particularly interested in understanding the causes and effects of financial distress.  Through surveys, economic games, and neuroimaging, we are conducting experimental field studies of prime and subprime consumer behavior, exploring the impact of macroeconomic factors on consumer decision-making and credit availability, and leveraging our proprietary database (containing tens of millions of US consumers) to build a taxonomy of financial health.  Postdocs will be expected to spend approximately half of their research time collaborating on financial decision making projects with Drs. Fox and Trepel, with the aim of publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Postdocs will be based at UCLA but are expected to also spend at least a few days per month working with CCRI staff in San Diego.

Successful applicants will have broad interests in and knowledge of behavioral decision research, strong experimental and statistical training, and a track record of completing outstanding peer-reviewed research.  A Ph.D. in psychology, behavioral economics, behavioral finance, marketing, organizational behavior, or a related behavioral discipline must be completed prior to starting this position.  Significant experience with survey instruments and design will be very helpful. Finally, successful applicants will have strong statistical training, with working knowledge of most or all of the following: logistic regression, generalized linear models, structural equation modeling, categorical data analyses, ANOVA and regression models.

The position is available as early as June 2013 and, subject to performance, is eligible to be renewed on an annual basis.  Salary will be commensurate with experience, and additional funding will be provided to defray the cost of health benefits and professional travel.  High-performing candidates may be offered a (purely voluntary) private sector role with Encore Capital Group.  Thus, this role is appropriate for researchers intending to pursue careers in either academia or industry.

Instructions for Applying
For full consideration, please submit an application by May 3, 2013 (however we will accept applications until the position(s) are filled).  Applicants should send a single .pdf attachment that includes a curriculum vitae, statement of purpose outlining your research interests and goals, and list of at least three references.  Please e-mail applications to with “UCLA/CCRI postdoc” in the subject line.

Tenure Track Position: Judgment and Decision Making and the Law

The Behavioral Science area at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, (Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management) invites applications for aTenure track position in Judgment and Decision Making and the Law starting as soon as possible. The position is open to all academic ranks starting from assistant professor. The position will be partially funded by a grant from the Israel Science foundation, as part of its Israel Centers Of Research Excellence (ICORE) program.

The position is in the Center for Empirical Studies of Decision Making and the Law, a joint center for Hebrew University and the Technion.As part of the generous funding of the ICORE program, the chosen candidate will receive a research grant of about NIS 160,000 a year which will be renewed annually until 2018. This amount is in addition to the institutional salary and startup grant. The ICORE supports only returning Israeli citizens.Applications from scientists with a research focus in several of the following areas are especially encouraged: Decision making, Legal studies, Neuroeconomics, Behavioral Finance.

Applicants should submit

1) A cover letter describing their research interests.

2) A curriculum vitae.

3) Names and contact details of three recommenders.Review of applications will be on a first come – first reviewed basis and will continue until the position is filled.

Applications should be sent to:Prof. Eldad Yechiam at For any further information please contact Prof. Eldad Yechiam at 

Faculty of Industrial Engineering and ManagementTechnion – Israel Institute of TechnologyTechnion City, Haifa 32000, Israel

Phone: (972) 4-829-4420

Fax: (972) 4-829-5688


SPUDM 2013 Call for papers and submissions

The European Association for Decision Making invites submissions for its 2013 Biennial SPUDM24 conference to be held at IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain from Sunday, the 18th till Thursday, the 22nd of August 2013.

Submissions of paper abstracts, poster abstracts, and proposals for workshops are invited on any topic in basic and applied judgment and decision making research.

Deadline for all submissions is March 8, 2013.

The organizing committee is pleased to announce that the conference will feature the following invited speakers:

  • Timothy D. Wilson, University of Virginia, USA
  • Colin F. Camerer, California Institute of Technology, USA
  • Robin Hogarth, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
  • Ralph Hertwig, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany

Attending this meeting will also be an opportunity to discover Barcelona, one of the most unique and architecturally distinctive cities of the world. Barcelona is the capital of Spain’s Catalan region, which has produced a number of the world’s most prominent artists including Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. The architect Antoni Gaudí also left his indelible mark on the city through a number of remarkable buildings such as La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, and La Casa Batlló.

For call for papers and submissions, please, visit

We look forward to seeing you and to welcoming you to Barcelona!

The local organizing committee:

Elena Reustkaja, Mario Capizzani, Franz Heukamp, and Robin Hogarth

SPUDM 2013

EADM invites submissions for its

2013 Biennial SPUDM24 conference

SPUDM24 will be held at IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain from 18-22 August 2013. The organizing committee is pleased to announce that the conference will feature the following invited speakers: Timothy D. Wilson, Colin F. Camerer, Robin Hogarth, and Ralph Hertwig. For call for papers and submissions, please visit the SPUDM24 website.

EADM members join the JDM journal supervisory committee

The journal Judgment and Decision Making is now the joint journal of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making (SJDM) and the European Association for Decision Making. This means that it will be supervised by a committee consisting of two members representing each organization, appointed by the president of each. The supervisory committee has complete, ultimate control over all matters pertaining to the journal, although it is assumed that the editor (Jon Baron) will make day-to-day decisions and will consult the committee only for fairly major issues (such as changes in policy), or when he needs advice. SJDM has decided that it’s executive board must approve the appointment of the next editor, after the committee makes a recommendation. The committee will consist of:

  • Derek Koehler, University of Waterloo (SJDM)
  • Gary McClelland, University of Colorado (SJDM)
  • Cilia Witteman, Radboud University (EADM)
  • Nicolao Bonini, University of Trento (EADM)