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Wolfgang Gaissmaier

Adjunct Researcher
Professor of Psychology

+49 30 82406-688
gaissmaier [at] mpib-berlin [dot] mpg [dot] de
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Short CV: 
  • 2014 Full Professor (W3) of Psychology – University of Konstanz
  • 2013 Habilitation in Psychology – University of Heidelberg
  • 2007 PhD in Psychology – Free University Berlin
  • 2002 Diploma (= Master) in Psychology – Free University Berlin
Research Interests: 
  • Judgment and decision making
  • Individual differences in decision making
  • Risk perception and communication
  • Memory-based decision making
  • Medical decision making
  • Ecological rationality
  • Models of heuristics

Selected Literature: 

Kämmer, J. E., Gaissmaier, W., Reimer, T., & Schermuly, C. C. (in press). The adaptive use of recognition in group decision making. Cognitive Science.

Norman, G. R., Sherbino, J., Dore, K. L., Wood, T. J., Young, M. E., Gaissmaier, W., Monteiro, S., & Kreuger, S. (in press). The etiology of diagnostic errors: A controlled trial of system 1 vs. system 2 reasoning. Academic Medicine.

Gaissmaier, W., Anderson, B. L., & Schulkin, J. (2014). How do physicians provide statistical information about antidepressants to hypothetical patients? Medical Decision Making, 34, 206–215. DOI: 10.1177/0272989X13501720

Heesen, C.*, Gaissmaier, W.*, Nguyen, F., Stellmann, P., Kasper, J., Köpke, S., Lederer, C., Neuhaus, A., & Daumer, M. (2013). Prognostic risk estimates of patients with multiple sclerosis and their physicians: Comparison to an online analytical risk counseling tool. PLoS One, 8, e59042.            * Both authors contributed equally.  

Kämmer, J. E., Gaissmaier, W., & Czienskowski, U. (2013). The environment matters: Comparing individuals and dyads in their adaptive use of decision strategies. Judgment and Decision Making, 8, 299–329.

Arkes, H. R., & Gaissmaier, W. (2012). Psychological research and the prostate-cancer screening controversy. Psychological Science, 23, 547–553.

Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2012).9/11, act II: A fine-grained analysis of regional variations in traffic fatalities in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Psychological Science, 23, 1449–1454.

Gaissmaier, W., Wegwarth, O., Skopec, D., Müller, A.-S., Broschinski, S., & Politi, M. C. (2012). Numbers can be worth a thousand pictures: Individual differences in understanding graphical and numerical representations of health-related information. Health Psychology, 31, 286–296.

Sherbino, J., Dore, K. L., Wood, T. J., Young, M. E., Gaissmaier, W., Kreuger, S., & Norman, G. R. (2012). The relation between processing speed and diagnostic errors. Academic Medicine, 87, 785–791.

Wegwarth, O., Schwartz, L. M., Woloshin, S., Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2012). Do physicians understand cancer screening statistics? A national survey of primary care physicians in the U.S. Annals of Internal Medicine, 156, 340–349.

Gaissmaier, W.*, & Marewski, J. N.* (2011). Forecasting elections with mere recognition from small, lousy samples: A comparison of collective recognition, wisdom of crowds, and representative polls. Judgment and Decision Making, 6, 73–88.        * Both authors contributed equally.

Gigerenzer, G. & Gaissmaier, W. (2011). Heuristic decision making. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 451–482.

Heesen, C, Kleiter, I., Nguyen, F., Schäffler, N., Kasper, J., Köpke, S., & Gaissmaier, W. (2010). Risk perception in natalizumab-treated multiple sclerosis patients and their neurologists. Multiple Sclerosis, 16, 1507–1512.

Marewski, J. N.*, Gaissmaier, W.*, & Gigerenzer, G. (2010). Good judgments do not require complex cognition. Cognitive Processing, 11, 103–121.         * Both authors contributed equally.

Marewski, J. N., Gaissmaier, W., Schooler, L. J., Goldstein, D. G., & Gigerenzer, G. (2010). From Recognition to Decisions: Extending and Testing Recognition-Based Models for Multi-Alternative Inference. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 17, 287–309.

Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2008). Statistical illiteracy undermines informed shared decision making. Zeitschrift für Evidenz, Fortbildung und Qualität im Gesundheitswesen [German Journal for Evidence and Quality in Health Care], 102, 411–413.

Gaissmaier, W., & Schooler, L. J. (2008). The smart potential behind probability matching. Cognition, 109, 416–422.

Gaissmaier, W., Schooler, L. J., & Mata, R. (2008). An ecological perspective to cognitive limits: Modeling environment-mind interactions with ACT-R. Judgment and Decision Making, 3, 278–291.

Bröder, A. & Gaissmaier, W. (2007). Sequential processing of cues in memory-based multi-attribute decisions. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 14, 895–900.

Gigerenzer, G., Gaissmaier, W., Kurz-Milcke, E., Schwartz, L. M., & Woloshin, S. (2007). Helping doctors and patients make sense of health statistics. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 8, 53–96.

Gaissmaier, W., Schooler, L. J., & Rieskamp, J. (2006). Simple predictions fueled by capacity limitations: When are they successful? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 32, 966–982.

open all Curriculum Vitae

zuklappen Honors and Awards

2013 Rising Star, Association for Psychological Science

2012 Fellow, German Young Academy, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities & German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

2009 Dissertation prize (runner up) - German Psychological Society, Section: General Psychology

2008 Otto Hahn Medal for outstanding scientific achievements - Max Planck Society

2006 New Investigator Award - Brunswik Society

zuklappen Publications

Kämmer, J. E., Gaissmaier, W., Reimer, T., & Schermuly, C. C. (in press). The adaptive use of recognition in group decision making. In Cognitive Science.

Multmeier, J., Gaissmaier, W., & Wegwarth, O. (in press). Collective statistical illiteracy in health. In B. L. Anderson & J. Schulkin (Eds.), Numerical reasoning in judgments and decision making about health. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Gaissmaier, W., Anderson, B. L., & Schulkin, J. (2014). How do physicians provide statistical information about antidepressants to hypothetical patients? Medical Decision Making, 34, 206-215. doi:10.1177/0272989X13501720
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Norman, G., Sherbino, J., Dore, K., Wood, T., Young, M., Gaissmaier, W., Kreuger, S., & Monteiro, S. (2014). The etiology of diagnostic errors: A controlled trial of system 1 versus system 2 reasoning. Academic Medicine, 89, 277-284. doi:10.1097/ACM.0000000000000105

Gaissmaier, W. (2013). Decision making under risk and uncertainty: A cognitive-ecological perspective. Habilitationsschrift, Universität Heidelberg, Germany.

Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2013). Wenn fehlinformierte Patienten versuchen, informierte Gesundheitsentscheidungen zu treffen. In G. Gigerenzer & J. A. Muir Gray (Eds.), Bessere Ärzte, bessere Patienten, bessere Medizin: Aufbruch in ein transparentes Gesundheitswesen (Strüngmann Forum Reports) (pp. 29-44). Berlin: Medizinisch Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft.

Heesen, C., Gaissmaier, W., Nguyen, F., Stellmann, J.-P., Kasper, J., Köpke, S., Lederer, C., Neuhaus, A., & Daumer, M. (2013). Prognostic risk estimates of patients with Multiple Sclerosis and their physicians: Comparison to an online analytical risk counseling tool. PLoS ONE, 8(5):e59042. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059042
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Hertwig, R., Buchan, H., Davis, D. A., Gaissmaier, W., Härter, M., Kolpatzik, K., Légaré, F., Schmacke, N., & Wormer, H. (2013). Wie werden Gesundheitsfachkräfte und Patienten im Jahr 2020 zusammenarbeiten? Ein Manifest für den Wandel. In G. Gigerenzer & J. A. Muir Gray (Eds.), Bessere Ärzte, bessere Patienten, bessere Medizin: Aufbruch in ein transparentes Gesundheitswesen (Strüngmann Forum Reports) (pp. 325-347). Berlin: Medizinisch Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft.

Kämmer, J. E., Gaissmaier, W., & Czienskowski, U. (2013). The environment matters: Comparing individuals and dyads in their adaptive use of decision strategies. Judgment and Decision Making, 8, 299-329.
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Sherbino, J., Norman, G. R., & Gaissmaier, W. (2013). In reply to Croskerry and Tait. Academic Medicine, 88, 150-151. doi:10.1097/ACM.0b013e31827b2941
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Treverna, L. J., Zikmund-Fisher, B. J., Edwards, A., Gaissmaier, W., Galesic, M., Han, P. K. J., King, J., Lawson, M. L., Linder, S. K., Lipkus, I., Ozanne, E., Peters, E., Timmermans, D., & Woloshin, S. (2013). Presenting quantitative information about decision outcomes: A risk communication primer for patient decision aid developers. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 13(Suppl. 2):S7, 15 p. doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-S2-S7
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Arkes, H. R., & Gaissmaier, W. (2012). Psychological research and the prostate-cancer screening controversy. Psychological Science, 23, 547-553. doi:10.1177/0956797612437428
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Betsch, C., Brewer, N. T., Brocard, P., Davies, P., Gaissmaier, W., Haase, N., Leask, J., Renkewitz, F., Renner, B., Reyna, V. F., Rossmann, C., Sachse, K., Schachinger, A., Siegrist, M., & Stryk, M. (2012). Opportunities and challenges of Web 2.0 for vaccination decisions. Vaccine, 30, 3727-3733. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.02.025
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Bodemer, N., & Gaissmaier, W. (2012). Risk communication in health. In S. Roeser, R. Hillerbrand, P. Sandin, & M. Peterson (Eds.), Handbook of risk theory: Epistemology, decision theory, ethics, and social implications of risk (Vol. 2, pp. 621-660). Dordrecht: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-1433-5_24
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Gaissmaier, W. (2012). Warum Patienten ein Recht auf verständliche Informationen haben. Bauchredner, 108, 85-89.

Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2012). 9/11, Act II: A fine-grained analysis of regional variations in traffic fatalities in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Psychological Science, 23, 1449-1454. doi:10.1177/0956797612447804
Full text

Gaissmaier, W., Wegwarth, O., Skopec, D., Müller, A.-S., Broschinski, S., & Politi, M. C. (2012). Numbers can be worth a thousand pictures: Individual differences in understanding graphical and numerical representations of health-related information. Health Psychology, 31, 286-296. doi:10.1037/a0024850
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Gigerenzer, G., Dieckmann, A., & Gaissmaier, W. (2012). Efficient cognition through limited research. In P. M. Todd, G. Gigerenzer & the ABC Research Group, Ecological rationality: Intelligence in the world (pp. 241-273). New York: Oxford University Press.

Gigerenzer, G., & Gaissmaier, W. (2012). Intuition und Führung: Wie gute Entscheidungen entstehen. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann-Stiftung.
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Sherbino, J., Dore, K. L., Wood, T. J., Young, M. E., Gaissmaier, W., Kreuger, S., & Norman, G. R. (2012). The relationship between response time and diagnostic accuracy. Academic Medicine, 87, 785-791. doi:10.1097/ACM.0b013e318253acbd
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Trevena, L., Zikmund-Fisher, B., Edwards, A., Gaissmaier, W., Galesic, M., Han, P., King, J., Lawson, M., Linder, S., Lipkus, I., Ozanne, E., Peters, E., Timmermans, D., & Woloshin, S. (2012). Presenting probabilities [Chapter C]. R. Volk & H. Llewellyn-Thomas (Eds.), 2012 Update of the International Patient Decision Aids Standards (IPDAS) Collaboration's Background Document. Cardiff, CF: IPDAS Collaboration
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Wegwarth, O., Schwartz, L. M., Woloshin, S., Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2012). Do physicians understand cancer screening statistics? A national survey of primary care physicians in the United States. Annals of Internal Medicine, 156, 340-349, W-92-W-94.
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Gaissmaier, W. (2011). Die Evidenz transparent machen. Das Österreichische Gesundheitswesen, 52, 13-15.

Gaissmaier, W. (2011). Risk communication: Why we need understandable information. Way Ahead, 15, 10-12.
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Gaissmaier, W., Fific, M., & Rieskamp, J. (2011). Analyzing response times to understand decision processes. In M. Schulte-Mecklenbeck, A. Kühberger, & R. Ranyard (Eds.), A handbook of process tracing methods for decision research: A critical review and user's guide (pp. 141-162). New York: Psychology Press.

Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2011). When misinformed patients try to make informed health decisions. In G. Gigerenzer & J. A. Muir Gray (Eds.), Better doctors, better patients, better decisions: Envisioning healthcare 2020 (pp. 29-43). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Gaissmaier, W., & Marewski, J. N. (2011). Forecasting elections with mere recognition from small, lousy samples: A comparison of collective recognition, wisdom of crowds, and representative polls. Judgment and Decision Making, 6, 73-88.
Full text

Gigerenzer, G., & Gaissmaier, W. (2011). Heuristic decision making. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 451-482. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-120709-145346
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Hertwig, R., Buchan, H., Davis, D. A., Gaissmaier, W., Härter, M., Kolpatzik, K., Légaré, F., Schmacke, N., & Wormer, H. (2011). How will health care professionals and patients work together in 2020? A manifesto for change. In G. Gigerenzer & J. A. Muir Gray (Eds.), Better doctors, better patients, better decisions: Envisioning health care 2020 (pp. 317-337). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wegwarth, O., Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2011). Deceiving numbers: Survival rates and their impact on doctors' risk communication. Medical Decision Making, 31, 386-394. doi:10.1177/0272989X10391469
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Heesen, C., Kleiter, I., Nguyen, F., Schäffler, N., Kasper, J., Köpke, S., & Gaissmaier, W. (2010). Risk perception in natalizumab-treated multiple sclerosis patients and their neurologists. Multiple Sclerosis, 16, 1507-1512. doi:10.1177/1352458510379819
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Marewski, J. N., Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2010). Good judgments do not require complex cognition. Cognitive Processing, 11, 103-121. doi:10.1007/s10339-009-0337-0
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Marewski, J. N., Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2010). We favor formal models of heuristics rather than lists of loose dichotomies: A reply to Evans and Over. Cognitive Processing, 11, 177-179. doi:10.1007/s10339-009-0340-5
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Marewski, J. N., Gaissmaier, W., Schooler, L. J., Goldstein, D. G., & Gigerenzer, G. (2010). From recognition to decisions: Extending and testing recognition-based models for multialternative inference. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 287-309. doi:10.3758/PBR.17.3.287
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Gaissmaier, W. (2009). Kommunikation von Chancen und Risiken in der Medizin. In T. Langer & M. Schnell (Eds.), Das Arzt-Patient Patient-Arzt Gespräch: Ein Leitfaden für Klinik und Praxis (pp. 177-185). München: Marseille.

Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2009). Risk communication. In M. W. Kattan (Ed.), Encyclopedia of medical decision making (Vol. 2, pp. 1006-1008). Los Angeles: Sage.
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Gigerenzer, G., & Gaissmaier, W. (2009). Warum wir verständliche Informationen brauchen. Berliner Ärzte, 46(5), 3.
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Gigerenzer, G., Gaissmaier, W., Kurz-Milcke, E., Schwartz, L. M., & Woloshin, S. (2009). Glaub keiner Statistik, die du nicht verstanden hast. Gehirn & Geist, (10), 34-39.
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Gigerenzer, G., Gaissmaier, W., Kurz-Milcke, E., Schwartz, L. M., & Woloshin, S. (2009). Knowing your chances. Scientific American Mind, 20(2), 44-51. doi:10.1038/scientificamericanmind0409-44
(Reprinted and translated in Gehirn & Geist, 2009, and Gehirn & Geist: Basiswissen, 1/2013)
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Marewski, J. N., Gaissmaier, W., Schooler, L. J., Goldstein, D. G., & Gigerenzer, G. (2009). Do voters use episodic knowledge to rely on recognition? In N. A. Taatgen & H. van Rijn (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2232-2237). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
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Neumeyer-Gromen, A., & Gaissmaier, W. (2009). Screening programs. In M. W. Kattan (Ed.), Encyclopedia of medical decision making (Vol. 2, pp. 1020-1024). Los Angeles: Sage.

Wegwarth, O., Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2009). Smart strategies for doctors and doctors-in-training: Heuristics in medicine. Medical Education, 43, 721-728. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03359.x
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Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2008). Statistical illiteracy undermines informed shared decision making. Zeitschrift für Evidenz, Fortbildung und Qualität im Gesundheitswesen, 102, 411-413.
Full text

Gaissmaier, W., & Schooler, L. J. (2008). The smart potential behind probability matching. Cognition, 109, 416-422.
Full text

Gaissmaier, W., Schooler, L. J., & Mata, R. (2008). An ecological perspective to cognitive limits: Modeling environment-mind interactions with ACT-R. Judgment and Decision Making, 3, 278-291.

Bröder, A., & Gaissmaier, W. (2007). Sequential processing of cues in memory-based multiattribute decisions. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 895-900.
(Reprinted in Heuristics: The foundations of adaptive behavior, pp. 429-435, by G. Gigerenzer, R. Hertwig, & T. Pachur, Eds., 2011, New York: Oxford University Press)
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Gaissmaier, W. (2007). The mnemonic decision maker: How search in memory shapes decision making. Doctoral dissertation, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.
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Gaissmaier, W., Straubinger, N., & Funder, D. C. (2007). Ecologically structured information: The power of pictures and other effective data presentations. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30, 263-264.
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Gigerenzer, G., Gaissmaier, W., Kurz-Milcke, E., Schwartz, L. M., & Woloshin, S. (2007). Helping doctors and patients make sense of health statistics. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 8, 53-96.
Full text

Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2006). Wie funktioniert Intuition? [How does intuition work?]. In E. H. Witte (Ed.), Evolutionäre Sozialpsychologie und automatische Prozesse: Beiträge des 21. Hamburger Symposions zur Methodologie der Sozialpsychologie (pp. 31-49). Lengerich: Pabst.

Gaissmaier, W., Schooler, L. J., & Rieskamp, J. (2006). Simple predictions fueled by capacity limitations: When are they successful? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32, 966-982.

Gigerenzer, G., & Gaissmaier, W. (2006). Denken und Urteilen unter Unsicherheit: Kognitive Heuristiken [Thinking and deciding under uncertainty: Cognitive heuristics]. In J. Funke (Ed.), Enzyklopädie der Psychologie: Vol. C, II, 8. Denken und Problemlösen (pp. 329-374). Göttingen, Germany: Hogrefe.

Gigerenzer, G., & Gaissmaier, W. (2006). Ironie des Terrors. Gehirn & Geist, 9, 14-16.
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Gaissmaier, W., Schooler, L. J., & Gigerenzer, G. (2005). Receptive memory in judgment and decision making. In M.-L. Käsermann & A. Altorfer (Eds.), Über Lernen: Ein Gedankenaustausch (pp. 67-79). Bern: EditionSolo.

Marewski, J. N., Gaissmaier, W., Dieckmann, A., Schooler, L. J., & Gigerenzer, G. (2005). Don't vote against the recognition heuristic. In B. G. Bara, L. Barsalou, & M. Bucciarelli (Eds.), Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (p. 2524). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
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