The EADM Interview: Peter Wakker


1) Who are you, and what do you do?

I am the grandson of

I will convert all of mankind, including all statisticians, to Bayesianism.
I will introduce the idea of conservation of influence.

2) What do you consider your most important research tool(s) on your computer?  Delete-key.

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

4)  What is your favorite tip for getting writing done?
Do not force yourself to write; it will not work.
Only forbid yourself to do anything other than writing.

Peter’s CV

The best paper that I ever co-authored was
Abdellaoui, Mohammed & Peter P. Wakker (2005). The Likelihood Method for Decision under Uncertainty. Theory and Decision, 58, 3–76.

It is also my least-cited paper. Explanation (to console myself): In those days the journal printed half per page what other journals did.  In another journal the paper would have taken 37 pages not 74.  No-one prints 74 pages for one paper.

The EADM Interview: Bettina von Helversen

BettinavHelversen1)    Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m a researcher at Basel University working at the Center for Economic Psychology. I investigate the cognitive processes underlying judgments and decisions and how they are shaped by the characteristics of the task and the abilities of the decision maker. A large part of my work focuses on when people rely on rule- and exemplar-based processing in judgment and understanding the memory processes underlying these processes. One project I’m currently working on aims on trying to understand when memories about previously encountered instances are likely to influence the decision process and how this depends on affective experiences when encountering the exemplars. In addition I’m interested in how and when people search for information and how this in influenced by affect and stress.

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

After reading that question I got curious which programs I’m actually using on a daily basis and I downloaded an app that allowed me to track the programs I’m using (TimeSink). A one week trial run suggested that I used the following programs in order of frequency: Firefox, Mail, Word, Powerpoint, Preview (a pdf viewer), Mendeley, Excel, Skype, SPSS and Matlab. Overall, that seems about right, although the order probably changes quite a bit with the projects I’m working on and the amount of teaching I’m preparing. Taking office for granted, I could not imagine doing research without Mendeley, Skype or Matlab anymore.

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

Well there is of course the lab without which I would not have much data, but even more important are the people I work with (though they are no tools). For me research works best as a collaborative effort in a team of two to three people.

4)    What is your favorite tip for getting writing done?

I have to admit I’m struggling quite a bit with writing. To get writing done I need to find a day without meetings and preferably no evening plans that allow me an early escape.Additionally, I can recommend fast working coauthors. The knowledge that someone is waiting usually gets me to get my part done much faster and it works even better if the other person was really fast in doing their part.

Bettina’s webpage

Bettina’s favorite paper:

Scholz, A., von Helversen, B., & Rieskamp, J. (2015). Eye movements reveal memory-processes during similarity versus rule-based decision making. Cognition, 136,228-246. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2014.11.019

The EADM Interview: Nathaniel Phillips

Nathaniel PhillipsWho are you, and what do you do?

My name is Nathaniel Phillips and I am a post-doctoral researcher at SPDS (Social Psychology and Decision Sciences) at the University of Konstanz in Germany. Thematically, I am interested in decisions under uncertainty, with a focus on information search, impression formation, and decision making. In other words, “How can organisms with limited time and cognitive limitations make good decisions in uncertain environments?” Methodologically, I try to use computational cognitive modelling, Bayesian graphical modelling, and agent-based simulations (I thank two summer schools, Lewandowsky and Farrell’s Computational Cognitive Modelling school and Wagenmakers and Lee’s Bayesian modelling school for introducing me to these techniques).

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

This is an easy one: Amazon mechanical turk (mTurk), and R (through RStudio). These two research tools completely changed how I envision psychological research. The mTurk allows virtually anyone (well, with an American bank account…) to obtain high quality data inexpensively from a highly diverse participant population. The mTurk has freed me from the physical and monetary demands of a computer lab, and has allowed me to program and conduct experiments in English while working in a non-English speaking city.

One note about the mTurk – some of my colleagues have wondered whether or not the low cost of mTurk data will lead to an explosion of a theoretical, p-hacked results. Indeed, if it only costs 5c per participant to collect data, why not run 64 conditions and only report the ones with significant results? Of course, p-hacking and the file-drawer problem existed long before the mTurk, but certainly the low cost of the mTurk makes this easier. However, mTurk p-hackers have a problem: anyone who questions the validity of their results can quickly and cheaply try to replicate the results using the exact same experimental materials on the exact same participant population. In short, if the original result was the result of a cheap mTurk p-hack, it can be rectified by an equally cheap mTurk replication.

The second most important research tool I have is R. Like most psychology students, my first stats courses used SPSS and I used SPSS through my Masters degree. At the beginning of my PhD, when I realised that all the senior researchers were using Matlab or R, I decided to make the switch to R (if for no other reason than to fit in). The first couple of months learning R were brutal – I went from feeling very comfortable with stats to a feeling like a complete beginner. That was definitely a hit to my ego, but after a few months of persistence and SPSS-reflex resistance, I made the complete switch and have been appreciating R more and more ever since.

There are just so many benefits to R and virtually no disadvantages (relative to SPSS, I’m sure some Python and Matlab users will find some drawbacks). R is free, constantly updated, allows you to make gorgeous plots, and is widely used by people working in all areas of research. However, I think the single best benefit of R is research transparency and replicability. Unlike SPSS analyses, R code can be easily stored and shared with others. If a colleague, or your notoriously forgetful future self wants to know how you conducted a certain analyses, just send them your code (properly commented of course).

I firmly believe that all undergraduate psychology students should be taught R from day-1 and should never be exposed to SPSS. So why aren’t we teaching students R? When I posed this question to one senior statistics instructor, he responded: “we can’t teach undergraduate students R because they won’t be able to or won’t want to use it.” Interesting … by the same argument, we should not teach statistics to psychology students.

I am confident that most students will learn how to conduct statistical analyses in R much faster than in SPSS. If a student can type “cor(x,y)” then she can calculate a correlation coefficient. If he can type “lm(y ~ x1 + x2 + x3)” he can conduct multiple regression. Bayesian stats? Not possible in SPSS and no problem in R, just type “BESTmcmc(x,y)” using Kruschke’s BEST R package and you’ve got a Bayesian “t-test” (see Kruschke, 2010). Additionally, because you can easily simulate data in R, you can easily program examples of important topics such as the central limit theorem and show students that it works.

Speaking of R, I recently started learning how to write in Latex using Sweave in RStudio and am kicking myself for not learning it earlier. For those who don’t know, Sweave is a way to incorporate R code into a Latex document. What’s really great about this setup is that it allows you embed your R analyses directly into your written document. For example, in Sweave you can write “The mean response time of distracted participants was \Sexpr{mean(response.time)}” where the result in \Sexpr{} is printed in plain text. The main benefit of Sweave is that it makes your analyses completely transparent to others, and your future self! If you use Sweave, you’ll never look back on an old document and wonder “How did I calculate that p-value?!” (not that you should be calculating p-values anyway…see Wagenmakers, 2007). You can always look at the Latex source code and see exactly where every analysis came from. For those that are interested in learning how to use Sweave, I recommend reading the short paper “Learning to Sweave in APA Style” by Ista Zahn

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

A moleskin journal and a mechanical pencil (with lots of erasers)

What is your favorite tip for getting writing done?

I think the best way to get writing done is to have firm deadlines and scheduled writing times. I learned these and many other great tips from Silviia’s book “How to Write a Lot

Nathaniel’s webpage

Nathaniel’s favorite paper:

Phillips, N.D., Hertwig, R., Kareev, Y. & Avrahami, J. (2014). Rivals in the dark: How competition influences search in decisions under uncertainty. Cognition, 133 (1), 104-119.

The EADM Interview: Sabine Scholl

Sabine SchollWho are you, and what do you do?

My name is Sabine G. Scholl and I’m a researcher working at the University of Mannheim, Germany. In my recent research, I’m particularly interested in advice giving situations. In this context, I focus primarily on intertemporal decisions, risk assessments, and decisions about preventive medical examinations. So far, I’m concentrating on the underlying cognitive processes but I plan to combine the laboratory data with behavioral data from real world settings.

Additionally, my research focuses on consumer decisions (financial and investment decisions and decisions involving risk), intuition in judgment and decision making, randomness judgments as well as the influence of cognitive feelings in judgment and decision making (including direct effects on judgments and decisions, and indirect effects on cognitive processes).

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

My most important tools are PsychInfo and Google, which help in getting an overview of all those interesting research articles in the internet. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been some years ago when a search for literature was far more complicated and most papers were only available in libraries. However, the disadvantage is that my “to read-” folder increases tremendously every week and that I don’t manage to keep up with reading. Next to diving into the literature, I love analyzing data and writing software programs for my experiments. Therefore, SPSS and Visual Basic.Net are also very important for me. For instance, programming my own one-armed bandit or experimental software that reacts to participants’ responses during an experiment provides me with all the freedom I need for conducting my research. Last but not least, I would not survive without Microsoft Word and Dropbox, which help me to organize my thoughts and my incredibly numerous documents that I have accumulated over the last years.

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

One important „research tool“ outside of my computer is my daily train ride during which in the morning I use a calendar and a notebook to organize my day and to write down my thoughts. In the evening I review my day and start to redirect my thoughts away from work. But the most important research “tool“ is my husband who provides very valuable and important feedback on all the more or less elaborated thoughts and future research projects that go through my head.

What is your favorite tip for getting writing done?

What helped me a lot when I started my PhD was a „writing club“. In a kick-off meeting, my colleagues and I committed to a certain amount of writing time per day for the next month (e.g., 2 hours on 4 days per week). Additionally, person A was named as a reviewer for person B who served as a reviewer for person C. These roles changed every month. Such a „writing club“ with the self- and public commitment for a particular writing schedule helps to get used to writing (even in short time slots) and to improve writing skills. Today, it is important for me to write in a quiet place characterized by organized chaos, equipped with lots of food and drink so that I can work as long as I’m productive, to have deadlines, and to be committed towards collaborators.

Scholl, Sabine – CV

Sabine’s favorite paper:

Scholl, S. G. & Greifeneder, R. (2011). Disentangling the effects of alternation rate and maximum run length on judgments of randomness. Judgment and Decision Making, 6, 531-541.


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.