Our topics are relevant to social psychology, cognitive psychology, and decision science. We are intrigued with issues of how people seek out, evaluate, and use information for making judgments about the future, choice options, themselves, and other people.  We seek to understand how such processes guide decision and behavior, especially when uncertainty is involved.  Many of our studies focus on biases, their causes, and how they can be avoided.  This focus makes the research findings relevant across various domains, with a primary example being how our findings are relevant to heath-relevant issues (e.g., encouraging prevention behavior, minimizing risky behavior, making wise treatment selections).

Keywords from recent and current projects

  • likelihood judgment / subjective probability
  • optimistic bias / overconfidence
  • perceived vulnerability / risk
  • social comparison
  • perceptions of personal health/nutrition 
  • egocentrism
  • motivated reasoning
  • above average effect / shared circumstance effect
  • selective exposure
  • wishful thinking / desirability bias
  • anchoring
  • debiasing
  • treatment beliefs and decisions

Examples of recent and current research questions

How do people make judgments of likelihood? When there are several possible outcomes to a situation, how do people go about considering evidence relevant to those possible outcomes? 

How do motivations influence one's optimism about experiencing positive and negative events?

How do comparisons (both social and nonsocial) affect people's perceptions of an event's likelihood.  How do such comparisons affect perceptions of personal vulnerability to negative events? 

What is the best way to assess someone's perceptions of likelihood (or risk or personal vulnerability)? Are numeric measures of subjective probability adequate, or do verbal or other nonnumeric measure hold important advantages over subjective probability measures? 

In competitive situations, how do people interpret the influence of situational factors on their likelihood of succeeding? Do they assume that a difficult situation will be harder for themselves than it will be for others?

What is the role of egocentrism in people's evaluations of how well a treatment (e.g., alternative medicine, listening to music) works for other people?

What are the nonmotivated biases that influence people's judgments about how their abilities compare to those of others? What nonmotivated biases influence nonsocial judgments, such as how pleasant one sofa is compared to another?

How do people learn about potential hazards via multiple ways, and then make decisions about how to behave—namely whether to take risks regarding those hazards?


Research tasks and educational materials related to our lab's research

DART -- The Decisions about Risk Task

Classroom demonstrations for the shared-circumstance effect