Ivy Defoe

This week’s SED colloquium (15 December, 12:00, in-person) will be given by Ivy Defoe, Forensic Child and Youth Care Sciences, University of Amsterdam.

Towards a hybrid criminological and psychological model of risk behavior: The Developmental Neuro-Ecological Risk-taking Model (DNERM)


Adolescents have long been characterized as the stereotypical risk-takers, due to their apparent heightened risk behavior (e.g., delinquency, substance use). Hence, the raising of the minimum age for substance use is a common legal action that presumes that limiting the exposure to substances (i.e., “risk exposure” and accordingly “risk opportunity”) will decrease such heightened adolescent risk behavior. This ecological concept of risk exposure is acknowledged in criminological models—to some extent. However, risk exposure is virtually absent from contemporary psychological models, which focus on neurodevelopment, particularly socio-affective and cognitive control development. Moreover, when theories in these disciplines do consider risk exposure, the ubiquitous developmental (i.e., age-dependent) component of this concept is overlooked. For example, in the real-word, adolescents encounter far more risk-conducive situations (i.e., risk exposure) than children, which could at least partially account for heightened adolescent risk behaviors compared to children. A meta-analysis (Defoe et al., 2015) on laboratory studies provided suggestive evidence for this assertion. Namely, this meta-analysis showed that in laboratory settings—where risk exposure is equal for all participants regardless of age—children and adolescents are generally equally susceptible to engage in risks. Hence, in the above-mentioned meta-analysis, a hybrid Developmental Neuro-Ecological Risk-taking Model (DNERM) was put forward. DNERM posits that age and cultural factors at least partially determine physical and social exposure to risk conductive situations (i.e., physical and social risk exposures). Additionally, these risk exposures predict adolescents’ risk behavior, and this association is potentially moderated by adolescents’ cognitive and affective self-control. Hence, DNERM emphasizes adolescents’ neuropsychological development within its physical- and social- ecology, which is further embedded in a cultural context. This presentation will address DNERM’s aims, which include bridging contemporary developmental psychology models with criminology models to describe the development of risk behavior during the youth period.

Emorie D. Beck

Emorie D. Beck, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, UC Davis, will give a virtual presentation in the Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar on Thursday 8 December, 17:00-18:00.

A taxonomy of data synthesis

As more data is shared and concerns over the replicability, reproducibility, and generalizability of psychological and other social sciences continues, more researchers aim to conduct multi-study or multi-sample research (e.g., using traditional meta-analysis, individual participant data meta-analysis [IPD-MA], or coordinated analysis). However, existing frameworks of data synthesis neither clearly differentiate different approaches or compare their convergence, unique considerations, and more. This talk has three main goals. First, I provide an overview of data synthesis methods and organize these into a taxonomy of methods of data synthesis. Second, using empirical data from 26,205 participants across 10 longitudinal studies, I provide a tutorial for estimating prospective meta-analytic and sample-specific associations between the Big Five personality traits and crystallized abilities along with four moderators of these associations across each method. Finally, I compare convergence and divergence of findings across methods. I conclude by making recommendations and providing a flow chart for choosing the most appropriate method of data synthesis given research goals, questions, and data availability.

James Wirth

James Wirth, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, will give a virtual presentation in the Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar on Thursday 1 December, 17:00-18:00.

Ostracism as a social tool for managing burdensome others

Ostracism as a social tool for managing burdensome others Ostracism (being excluded and ignored) is an unpleasant experience which triggers social pain. Given ostracism’s extensive harm, why would individuals use this social tool? One use of ostracism is to remove burdensome others ? individuals whose costs outweigh their benefits. Ostracizing a burdensome other includes not throwing the ball to a player who holds the ball extensively during a virtual ball toss game, not selected a poor performer to do a group task, and excluding a Facebook friend who makes interactions unpleasant and posts inflammatory content. Across these contexts, an alarm in the form of psychological pain, may alert individuals to a burdensome group member and motivate excluding them. In the most recent research, we are examining if burden and psychological pain also motivate intergroup social exclusion—exclusion of others based on their group membership. This research further tests the burden—ostracism link and is an initial investigation of intergroup social exclusion.

Emanuele Politi

This week’s SED colloquium (17 November, 12:00, in-person) will be given by Emanuele Politi, Center for Social and Cultural Psychology, KU Leuven.

Psychological advances in refugee perspectives on migration and integration

Migration trajectories of people asking for international protection (broadly defined here as refugees) are marked by broken relationships, loss of social support, and cumulated social exclusions. Yet, current social psychological theories and empirical investigations lag behind in addressing this urgent societal issue. Starting from the basic tenants of a social ecological model of health, I will present recent empirical evidence on the role of proximal social environments as spaces enabling resilience of refugees. Concurrently, I will introduce social psychological literature on intergroup helping, and take examples from the current Ukrainian crisis to illustrate the importance of community involvement in volunteering and solidarity-based actions. Finally, I will familiarize students with transformative research practices that guarantee high relevance and broad impact of research outputs in terms of policy recommendations.

Sebastian Berger

Don’t miss this week’s in-person presentation by Sebastian Berger, Interim Professor for Sustainable Social Development, University of Bern, in the Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar series (Thursday, 10 November, 12:00-13:00).

The Environmental versus Social Consequence Task (ESCT): A novel experimental paradigm to study value conflicts in pro-environmental behavior

Pro-environmental behavior (PEB) commonly refers to a broad range of human behaviors that produce environmental benefits or avoid environmental harms relative to alternative behaviors (Lange, 2022). Despite environmental psychology’s stated interest in studying behavior, researchers have noted a strong discrepancy between the research target (i.e., to study behavior) and its operationalization (i.e., self-reports, hypothetical behavior, or intentions; Lange et al. 2018). One viable alternative to study pro-environmental behavior is through validated behavioral paradigms (Lange, 2022). Behavioral paradigms are arranged situations that mimic some of the critical contingencies (e.g., cost or benefits) of the situations they are supposed to model. Research participants are exposed to these situations under strict experimental control, meaning that researchers have control over the modeled parameters that are deemed critical for decision-making. In the present research, we introduce a novel behavioral paradigm which pitches environmental against social consequences – the Environmental versus Social Consequence Task (ESCT). We show that the task provokes behavioral responses as predicted. However, we show that psychological constructs essentially do not predict pro-environmental behavior – unlike in similar tasks that do not involve value-tradeoffs.

Ulf Hahnel

 In this week’s SED colloquium, Ulf Hahnel, Head of the Department of Psychology’s Division “Psychology of Sustainability and Behavior Change”, will give a presentation entitled “A multidimensional perspective on sustainability and behavior change” in which he will give an overview of recent research aiming to advance knowledge about the cognitive mechanisms underlying judgment and decision making in the energy and climate domain.

A multidimensional perspective on sustainability and behavior change

This research covers, among others, investment decisions in renewable energy technology and trading decision strategies in innovative peer-to-peer energy markets. Moreover, the talk will cover recent interdisciplinary research illustrating how experimental data from psychological research on decision making preferences can be integrated into energy modelling to analyze the impact of human decision making on the system level. Finally, Ulf will give an outlook of the new group “Psychology of Sustainability and Behavior Change” and its vision to provide evidence-based means to contribute to the transition towards net-zero emissions around the world.

Gabrielle Wong-Parodi

Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, Assistant Professor, Earth System Science, University of Stanford, will give a virtual presentation in the Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar on Thursday 27 October (17:00-18:00, virtual).

Responses to global environmental change: Mitigation to adaptation

A growing number of people are experiencing the impacts from climate change from extreme wildfires and heat to intensify hurricanes. Understanding how experiences and sense making relate to decision making may provide insight into ways interventions can be designed to more effectively empower people to take steps to adapt to lessen impacts, or to address root causes. Dr Wong-Parodi will present recent work examining the relationships of negative personal experience with extreme weather events and attribution of that experience to climate change with pro-environmental attitudes, behaviors, and adaptation. She will also present work-in-progress that centers on a longitudinal study examining how the relationship of adaptation and risk perceptions regarding hurricanes in the U.S. Gulf Coast changes over time. These studies illustrate the importance of conducting research in context and provide ways forward for thinking about how to support efforts to mitigate climate change and to adapt to the changes already under way.

Agnes Rosner

Don’t miss this week’s in-person presentation by Agnes Rosner, Scientific Associate SNF Ambizione, University of Zurich, in the Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar series (Thursday 20 October at 12:00).

Exemplar retrieval in preferential judgments

Research on inferential judgments from multiple cues suggests that judgments are influenced by the retrieval of past instances (exemplars) stored in memory. Yet, on the process level little evidence exists that would allow a similar conclusion for preferential judgments, where there is no objective criterion to which a judgment can be compared. This study aimed to test if exemplar retrieval may also play a role in preferential judgments. In Experiment 1, half of the participants judged how much they would like smoothies consisting of different ingredients (preference condition) and the other half judged how much another person would like the presented smoothies (inference condition). In Experiment 2, all participants engaged in preferential judgments, but with or without instructions to respond as consistently as possible. To trace memory retrieval, we recorded eye movements. Eye movements can be used to trace information search in memory, because when retrieving information, people look at spatial locations that have been associated with retrieval-relevant information but that are empty during judgment of new objects (“looking-at-nothing” behavior). The results show that people looked at exemplar locations in both inferential and preferential judgments, and both with and without instructions to respond as consistently as possible. The more they looked to the most similar exemplar location, the more closely related were test and training judgments of the respective exemplar. The results suggest that people may rely on previously encountered exemplars also in preferential judgments and highlight the usefulness of studying eye movements “to nothing” to better understand the role of memory in judgment.

Verena Tiefenbeck

Verena Tiefenbeck, Assistant Professor, Digital Transformation, Friedrich-Alexander University, will give a virtual presentation in the Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar on Thursday 13 October (12:00-13:00, virtual).

Does the end affect the means? Purpose-dependent effects of behavioral interventions in online grocery shopping

Behavioral interventions that make small, seemingly irrelevant changes to the choice architecture (also called “nudges”) have been applied in various domains, including financial, occupational, health- and sustainability-related decisions. Although the behavioral response to some nudges is substantial, the magnitude of the effects differs widely. Various studies have investigated the impact of individual and situational variables. Yet, one key variable that has not yet been systematically examined for its behavioral impact is the purpose pursued by the nudge (e.g., promoting healthy eating). To date, a direct, systematic analysis that exogenously and exclusively manipulates the nudge’s purpose, while holding all other factors constant, is missing. In this study, we analyze the results of a randomized controlled trial in the online grocery shopping context (n = 790). We investigate the effects of two different nudging interventions (food labels and salience reduction) and systematically manipulate the pursued purpose (health vs. sustainability vs. pro-profit vs. none communicated). While the effect of the food labels largely depends on the communicated purpose, the effect of the salience reduction unfolds independently of its purpose. These findings have serious implications: They provide empirical evidence that “strong” nudges that bypass individuals’ active information processing and reasoning can steer behavior in the intended direction of the nudge, irrespective of peoples’ preferences. Our findings call for careful consideration of the welfare effects of nudges implemented as instruments of public policy and underscore the need for regulation of nudges in the consumer domain.

Aaron Benjamin

Aaron Benjamin, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, will give a virtual presentation in the Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar on Thursday 6 October, 17:00-18:00).

The metacognition of participation

The applied science of cognition often takes the classroom as a model situation. In a classroom, students play only a small role in choosing learning activities, and those activities are shared across students with a wide spectrum of abilities and interests. In most other arenas in life, the cognitive activities in which we participate are ones for which we volunteer, and in which we play the major role in scheduling our work and deciding when we quit. In this talk, I explore the consequences of self-selection on a wide variety of cognitive activities. Choice over participation affects the interpretation of group data, the extent to which individuals benefit from cognitively enhancing events like memory tests, how crowd wisdom can be harnessed, and how artificial agents can be designed to have fruitful interactions with human users. I hope to convince you that questions of participation should be front and center in any applied science of cognition.

Markus Strohmaier

Markus Strohmaier, Chair for Data Science in the Economic and Social Sciences, University of Mannheim, will give a presentation (virtual) in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 29 September, 12:00-13:00).

Interpretability of large-scale neural models of text

We introduce “POLAR”—a framework that adds interpretability to pre-trained word embeddings via the adoption of semantic differentials. Semantic differentials are a psychometric construct for measuring the semantics of a word by analyzing its position on a scale between two polar opposites (e.g., cold–hot, soft–hard). The core idea of our approach is to transform existing, pre-trained word embeddings via semantic differentials to a new “polar” space with interpretable dimensions defined by such polar opposites. Our framework also allows for selecting the most discriminative dimensions from a set of polar dimensions provided by an oracle, i.e., an external source. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework by deploying it to various downstream tasks and discuss its applications and various settings.

Danny Osborne

Danny Osborne, Associate Professor, School of Psychology, University of Auckland, New Zealand, will give an online presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 22 September, 10:00-11:00).

Is the personal always political? Examining the boundaries of the relationship between personality and political attitudes

Over the past decade, research in political psychology has focused on documenting the relationship between people’s personality and their corresponding political attitudes. These studies consistently demonstrate that the Big-Five’s Openness to Experience is inversely associated with political conservatism. Recently, however, the cross-situational (and between-person) consistency of these findings has been called into question. In this talk, I will present a programme of research showing that both (a) aspects of the environment (e.g., level of societal threat) and (b) individual differences (e.g., amount of political knowledge) moderate the relationship between personality and politics. In doing so, I aim to highlight the previously-neglected conditional nature of the relationship between personality and politics, while also demonstrating the benefits of a truly integrative—both in terms of theory and methodology—political psychology.

John Clithero

John Clithero, Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon, will give an online presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 2 June, 17:00-18:00)

Resolving the dilemma of dirty money: A computational account

Money can be tainted when it is associated with direct or indirect harm to others. Deciding whether to accept “dirty money” poses a dilemma because money can be used to help others, but accepting dirty money has moral costs. How people resolve the dilemma of dirty money remains unknown. One theory casts the dilemma as a valuation conflict that can be resolved by integrating the costs and benefits of accepting dirty money. Here, we use behavioral experiments and computational modeling to test the valuation conflict account and unveil the cognitive computations employed when deciding whether to accept or reject morally tainted cash. In Study 1, British participants decided whether to accept “dirty” money obtained by inflicting electric shocks on another person (versus “clean” money obtained by shocking oneself). Computational models showed that the source of the money (dirty versus clean) impacted decisions by shifting the relative valuation of the money’s positive and negative attributes, rather than imposing a uniform bias on decision-making. Studies 2 and 3 replicate this finding and show that participants were more willing to accept dirty money when the money was directed towards a good cause, and observers judged such decisions to be more praiseworthy than accepting dirty money for one’s own profit. Our findings suggest that dirty money can be psychologically “laundered” through charitable activities and have implications for understanding and preventing the social norms that can justify corrupt behavior.

Michael Bernstein

Michael Bernstein, Psychological & Social Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, USA, will give an online presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 5 May, 17:00-18:00).

Negative reactions to single-group protesters—the role of perceived exclusion

Single-group protesters are groups which advocate for social justice on behalf of a minoritized or stigmatized group (e.g., feminists, Black Lives Matter). These groups are often met with resistance by outsiders, and we hypothesized that some of why this may happen may be due to a perception that these groups are exclusionary. Across multiple studies, we show the effect (that perceptions of exclusion among outsiders drive negative attitudes and behaviors towards such groups), demonstrate the effect remains after controlling for other predictors (e.g., prejudice), and show moderators of the effect supporting the underlying mechanism. We discuss the implications for continuing to understand intergroup relations.

Supporting literature: Bernstein, M. J., Neubauer, A. B., Benfield, J. A., Potter, L., & Smyth, J. M. (2021). Within-person effects of inclusion and exclusion on well-being in daily life. Personal Relationships, 28, 940–960.

David Richter

David Richter, Survey Manager SOEP-IS, Free University Berlin, will give a presentation in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 7 April, 12:00-13:00). The presentation will also be available via Zoom.

The personality of inherited and self-made millionaires

The wealthiest individuals influence political and societal processes by wielding their economic power through foundations, lobbying groups, and media campaigns and as investors and employers. Because personality shapes goals, attitudes, and behaviors, it is important to understand the personality of the rich. We used two large random samples from the general population and individuals holding at least €1 million individual net wealth to analyze how and why the rich have a different personality. Being rich was associated with higher risk-taking, emotional stability, openness, extraversion, and conscientiousness. This personality profile was driven by those who accumulated wealth through their own efforts (self-mades) and not by those who were born rich (inheritors). Hence, self-made millionaires exhibit a unique personality trait constellation that underlie their economic success.

Supporting literature: Leckelt, M., König, J., Richter, D., Back, M. D., & Schröder, C. (2022). The personality traits of self-made and inherited millionaires. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9, 94. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-022-01099-3

Jonathan Chapman

Jonathan Chapman, Division of Social Science, New York University Abu Dhabi, will give a presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 31 March, 17:00-18:00).

Loss attitudes in the U.S. population: Evidence from Dynamically Optimized Sequential Experimentation (DOSE)

To measure individual-level loss aversion in a representative sample of the U.S. population (N = 2000), we introduce DOSE | Dynamically Optimized Sequential Experimentation. We found that around 50% of the U.S. population is loss tolerant. This is counter to earlier findings, which mostly come from lab/student samples, that a strong majority of participants are loss averse. Loss attitudes are correlated with cognitive ability: loss aversion is more prevalent in people with high cognitive ability, and loss tolerance is more common in those with low cognitive ability. We also use DOSE to document facts about risk and time preferences, and demonstrate that DOSE elicitations are more accurate, more stable across time, and faster to administer than standard methods.

Daniela Jopp

Daniela Jopp, Institute of Psychology, University of Lausanne, will give a presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 24 March, 12:00-13:00; Seminarraum 00.004, Missionsstr. 64a).

Centenarians: Between vulnerability and resilience

Given their exceptional longevity, centenarians have long been considered as examples of successful aging. Yet, with the rise of the numbers of the oldest-old and the parallel increases in empirical studies, findings suggest that centenarians may show vulnerability and resilience at the same time. Of high interest, but little investigated, are also the mechanisms that help centenarians to maintain superior levels of well-being and quality of life, despite being confronted with loss of resources and other difficulties. This presentation will assemble information from international centenarian studies investigating vulnerability and resilience across multiple domains of functioning (e.g., health, cognitive functioning, social relations, well-being, and psychological strengths). A specific focus will be put on findings from the Fordham Centenarian Study (USA), the Second Heidelberg Centenarian Study (Germany) and the ongoing SWISS100 Study (Switzerland). The presentation will furthermore offer some insights on how centenarians have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, representing an interesting opportunity to study centenarians’ vulnerability and resilience.


Florian Hett

Florian Hett, Chair of the Digital Economics Group, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, will give a presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 17 March, 17:00-18:00).

Time inconsistency and overdraft use: Evidence from transaction data and behavioral measurement experiments

Households regularly fail to make optimal financial decisions. But what are the underlying reasons for this? Using two conceptually distinct measures of individual time inconsistency, one based on bank account transaction data and one based on behavioral measurement experiments, we show that the excessive use of bank account overdrafts is linked to time inconsistency. By contrast, there is no correlation between a survey-based measure of financial literacy and overdraft usage. Our results indicate that consumer education and information may not suffice to overcome mistakes in households’ financial decision-making, specifically the excessive use of overdrafts. Rather, our results suggest that behaviorally motivated interventions targeting specific biases in decision-making should also be considered as potentially effective policy tools.

Wiebke Bleidorn

Wiebke Bleidorn, University of Zürich, will give a presentation in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 16 December, 12:00-13:00).

Personality trait development across the lifespan—emerging principles and new directions

There is robust evidence that personality traits continue to develop throughout the lifespan, sometimes in response to environmental influences, including purposeful interventions. These findings would appear to provide a solid foundation for a deeper understanding of the course and causes of personality development. However, several open questions about the ways in which personality traits develop remain. In this talk, I will update and extend previous meta-analyses on personality trait development by synthesizing novel data on personality rank-order stability (k = 189, N = 178,503) and mean-level change (k = 276, N = 242,542) and discuss the role of genetic and environmental influences on personality development. In doing so, I will derive emerging principles of lifespan personality development, highlight limitations of past research, and present the broad outlines for future research, with a particular emphasis on relevant methodological complexities and conceptual challenges.

Anatolia Batruch

Anatolia Batruch, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lausanne, will give a presentation in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 9 December, 12:00-13:00).

School meritocracy and the reproduction of social class inequalities

The school system is intended to offer all students the same opportunities, but most international surveys reveal that lower social class students have lower grades and lower educational attainment as compared to higher social class students. In this talk, I will present a series of studies and experiments that show the specific contribution of school meritocracy in the reproduction of social class inequality in school and in society. I will first present evidence that teachers discriminate against lower-social class students. I will then present experiments documenting how school practices oriented towards meritocratic selection contribute to this discriminatory behavior. Finally, I will present data on the relationship between beliefs that schools are meritocratic and attitudes towards social class and income inequalities in the general population.

Pete Wegier

Pete Wegier, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Canada, will give a presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 25 November, 15:00-16:00).

ARISE—Aiding Risk Information learning through Simulated Experience

 Conditional probabilities—the likelihood that one event will occur given that another event has already occurred—are common in medical decision making. “What’s the probability I have a disease given a screening test returned a positive result? 100%? 50%? 1%?” Properly understanding conditional probabilities is vital to informed medical decision making. Research has shown that people learn the probabilities in a choice differently if the decision is presented from description versus from experience. We will present a series of studies using the ARISE—Aiding Risk Information learning through Simulated Experience—paradigm, a visual method for simulating large numbers of results as a way for a decision maker to learn probably from experience.

Lene Aarøe

Lene Aarøe, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, will give a presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 11 November, 12:00-13:00).

Psychological biases for cheater detection shape social transmission of political news stories and trust

People receive a central part of their political news via interpersonal communication. The persistent circulation on social media of stories about for example Donald Trump’s tax avoidance or the “Bill Gates’ microchip” conspiracy theory about the Corona vaccine illustrate how political information spreads and endures in social networks. Yet not all types of political news stories are equally likely to “go viral” in interpersonal communication. Why are some stories transmitted massively in interpersonal communication and have strong impact on political opinions while others die out almost immediately? In this talk, I integrate cognitive and evolutionary psychology into the political science literature on the two-step communication flow to address this question. I argue that political news stories that resonate with deep-seated psychological biases for cheater detection will be transmitted more and have stronger impact on opinions in interpersonal communication. I present experimental evidence collected in the United States supporting this argument. The experiments employ the Chain Transmission Design which specifically detects psychological biases by tracking how information deteriorates in social transmission. The findings advance understanding of biases in social information circulation and the sources of political distrust: These democratic challenges are not merely driven by strategic elites but also by evolved “psychological news criteria” of the human mind.

Jennifer Trueblood

Jennifer Trueblood, Psychological Sciences, Vanderbilt University, will give a presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 4 November, 16:00-17:00).

Attentional dynamics explain the elusive nature of context effects

Over the past several decades, there has been extensive empirical and theoretical work on understanding “context effects” (attraction, compromise, and similarity) in multi-alternative, multi-attribute choice. These effects occur when choices among existing alternatives are altered by the addition of a new alternative to the choice set. While numerous studies have been published documenting the existence of the effects, recent studies have shown that the effects often disappear or reverse. In this talk, we show how changes in attentional processes account for the diversity of observed outcomes. In particular, we hypothesize that attention allocation based on (1) the spatial arrangement of options and (2) the similarity of options explains the elusiveness of context effects. With regards to the former, we reanalyze context effects data from Trueblood et al. (2015) showing that the spatial ordering of options (i.e., left to right placement of alternatives on the screen) impacts the strength of context effects, leading to null or reversed effects in some cases. These results likely arise because spatial layout biases attention towards particular options. With regards to similarity-based attention, we use model simulations to show that when similar options receive enhanced attention, standard effects emerge. However, when dissimilar options receive enhanced attention, the attraction and compromise effects reverse and the similarity effect strengthens. We test this hypothesis in new experiments manipulating similarity-based attention processes. We conclude by showing that differences in attentional processes could explain individual differences observed in context effects.


Morten Moshagen

Morten Moshagen, Psychological Research Methods, University of Ulm, will give a presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 28 October, 12:00-13:00).

The dark factor of personality

Ethically and socially aversive behaviors cause severe challenges for societies at many levels. In personality research, such behaviors are often attributed to aversive (“dark”) traits, most prominently the “dark triad” components—narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy—but indeed many more (such as greed, sadism, and spitefulness, to name a few). Given that aversive traits exhibit substantial conceptual, operational, and empirical overlap, the Dark Factor of Personality (D) has been proposed to represent the basic underlying disposition from which any more specific aversive trait arises as manifestation, thereby representing their commonalities. D is conceptualized as the general tendency to maximize one’s individual utility—disregarding, accepting, or malevolently provoking disutility for others—accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications. The talk will elaborate on the theoretical conceptualization, summarize corresponding empirical evidence, and illustrate consequences of D.

Supporting literature

Moshagen, M., Hilbig, B. E., & Zettler, I. (2018). The dark core of personality. Psychological Review, 125, 5, 656-688.

Olivia Guest

Olivia Guest, Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, Radboud University, Netherlands, will give a presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 21 October, 15:00-16:00).

On logical inference over brains, behavior, and artificial neural networks

In the cognitive, computational, and neuro- sciences, we often reason about what models (viz., formal and/or computational) represent, learn, or “know”, as well as what algorithm they instantiate. The putative goal of such reasoning is to generalize claims about the model in question to claims about the mind and brain. This reasoning process typically presents as inference about the representations, processes, or algorithms the human mind and brain instantiate. Such inference is often based on a model’s performance on a task, and whether that performance approximates human behavior or brain activity. The model in question is often an artificial neural network (ANN) model, though the problems we discuss are generalizable to all reasoning over models. Arguments typically take the form “the brain does what the ANN does because the ANN reproduced the pattern seen in brain activity” or “cognition works this way because the ANN learned to approximate task performance.” Then, the argument concludes that models achieve this outcome by doing what people do or having the capacities people have. At first blush, this might appear as a form of modus ponens, a valid deductive logical inference rule. However, as we explain in this article, this is not the case, and thus, this form of argument eventually results in affirming the consequent—a logical or inferential fallacy. We discuss what this means broadly for research in cognitive science, neuroscience, and psychology; what it means for models when they lose the ability to mediate between theory and data in a meaningful way; and what this means for the logic, the metatheoretical calculus, our fields deploy in high-level scientific inference.

Bradley C. Love

Brad Love, Professor of Cognitive & Decision Sciences in Experimental Psychology, University College London, will give a presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 7 October, 12:00-13:00).

Embedding spaces for decision making

A variety of domains, including images, text, and brain measures, can be captured in embedding spaces. For example, word embedding models place each word at some point in a high-dimensional space with the relative positions of words conveying similarity. In this talk, I will consider what comparing embedding spaces to one another can tell us about cognition and its brain basis. First, I will cover model-based neuroscience research that compares model and brain representations. I will discuss limitations of existing model-based approaches, including deep learning accounts of the ventral visual stream, and suggest an alternative approach to linking models and brain measures that assesses causal efficacy within the overall computation rather than simply shared variance between embedding spaces, which can be misleading. Second, I will discuss how embedding spaces derived from large-scale studies of human behaviour can help us evaluate models. One conclusion is that better performing models are not necessarily better models of humans. In the final part of the talk, I will consider how people rely on multiple embedding spaces (akin to memory systems) when making open-ended decisions, such as deciding what to add next to their online shopping cart. Overall, these results indicate the value of embedding spaces for developing and evaluating models of mind and brain at scale.

Supporting literature

Supplementary literature:

Marta Serra-Garcia

Marta Serra-GarciaAssociate Professor of Economics & Strategic Management, UC San Diego Rady School of Management, will give a presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 23 September, 17:00-18:00).

Cognitive flexibility or moral commitment? Evidence of anticipated belief distortion

Do people anticipate the conditions that enable them to manipulate their beliefs when confronted with unpleasant information? We investigate whether individuals seek out the “cognitive flexibility” needed to distort beliefs in self-serving ways, or instead attempt to constrain it, committing to unbiased judgment. Experiments with 6500 participants, including financial and legal professionals, show that preferences are heterogeneous: over 40% of advisors prefer flexibility, even if costly. Actively seeking flexibility does not preclude belief distortion. Individuals anticipate the effects of cognitive flexibility and their choice to pursue it responds to incentives, suggesting some sophistication about the cognitive constraints to belief distortion.

SBAP Online Kurs: : 3. Nov 2021 (17:15-19:15)

Vom Studium in die Praxis der Arbeits-, Organisations- & Wirtschaftspsychologie

Viele Wege führen nach – ja wohin denn eigentlich?
In unserer Online-Podiumsdiskussion mit frischen Berufseinsteigenden nehmen wir euch mit auf ihre Reise zu ihrer aktuellen Rolle als AOW-Psycholog:innen und dienen dabei als dein Reiseführer. Warum? Es ist nicht immer einfach mit einem Rucksack vollgepackt mit Know-How und Kompetenzen den passenden Weg zu finden. Unsere Gäste erzählen auf authentische Art und Weise von ihrer Fahrt nach dem Studium. Während einige auf Schnellstrecken fliegen, berichten andere von steinigeren Wegen. Hopp on und lass dich von den vielfältigen Geschichten und Rollen für deinen ganz persönlichen Weg inspirieren.

Teilnehmende: Dieser Event richtet sich an alle Studierenden – Bachelor oder Master – auf dem Weg in den Berufseinstieg.

Anmeldung: Melde dich bis zum 22. Oktober 2021

Zoom-Workshop aus der Reihe „Rein in die Praxis“ – 29.07.2021 16:15-17:45

Die Fachgruppe Psychologie präsentiert: Zoom-Workshop aus der Reihe „Rein in die Praxis„ (29.07.2021 16:15-17:45)

Geschlechtervarianz und sexuelle Orientierungen im medizinischen System

Vortrag und Diskussion mit Dr. David Garcia Nuñez, Leiter Schwerpunkt Geschlechtervarianz, Facharzt für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Universitätsspital Basel

Link: https://unibas.zoom.us/j/3031011046

Renzo Bianchi

Renzo Bianchi, SNF Ambizione Researcher, Université de Neuchâtel, will give a presentation via Zoom in this week’s Social, Economic, and Decision Psychology research seminar (Thursday 1 July).

Burnout or occupational depression? An overview of recent developments in job distress research

This talk will address the issue of burnout-depression overlap and present a new instrument, the Occupational Depression Inventory. An emphasis will be put on cognitive bias and cognitive performance in the examination of burnout-depression overlap.