Almost every decision we make represents a leap into the unknown. Whether choosing a job or an apartment; whether deciding when to have children or how best to save for old age; whether voting in an election or deciding between medical treatments, we base our decisions on predictions about what the future holds. Often, we cannot be certain about the possible consequences of our actions, how likely those consequences are, or when they will materialize—never mind what knock-on effects they will have on ourselves and others. But despite all these uncertainties, most of the time people are pretty good at navigating the unknown.
The goal of the psychologists, computer scientists, biologists, neuroscientists, philosophers, and physicists in our group is to investigate and identify the cognitive tools, or strategies, in the mind’s adaptive toolbox that help people make these leaps into the unknown. And to empower people to make good decisions in a complex and changing world.
Which decision strategies enable people to infer and decide efficiently based on limited and often uncertain information, by making clever use of key regularities in the environment?
Search and Learning
Which search and learning processes guide people in deciding where to look for further information, and—importantly—when to stop searching and take action?
How do individuals tap into social information from others, and under what conditions do groups outperform their individual members?
Lifespan Development of Decision Making
How do the cognitive processes of search, learning, and decision making, along with the use of social information, develop over the decision maker’s lifespan?
Neurocognitive Foundations of Adaptive Rationality
What are the neural underpinnings of the cognitive processes of search, learning, and decision making?
Boosting Decision Making
What are effective ways of boosting the ability of patients, doctors, citizens, and policy makers to make good decisions?