PhD ceremony: Ms. S.K. Mehlhorn, 12.45 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Dissertation: Cognitive models of decision making. Why precision matters
Promotor(s): prof. N.A. Taatgen
Faculty: Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Already in the 1970s, Allen Newell warned that verbal theories and simplifying dichotomies are not sufficient to understand human cognition. Yet, underspecified verbal models and binary oppositions still enjoy great popularity. In my thesis I have used the precision provided by computational cognitive models to challenge such simplifying dichotomies. The first part of the thesis centers on a dichotomy that currently receives much attention: Is reasoning based on implicit, automatic, or on explicit, deliberate processes? To study this question we conducted several behavioral experiments in which participants had to generate diagnoses for observed medical symptoms. In the experiments we measured the availability of diagnostic hypotheses in memory as a function of the present and past environment. We then compared the behavioral data to results of different computational models. Our findings suggest that automatic activation processes regulate the availability of diagnostic hypotheses in memory and thereby influence which hypotheses can be used by deliberate reasoning strategies. In the second part of the thesis, we moved on to another currently popular dichotomy: Can decisions better be described by non-compensatory heuristics or by compensatory decision strategies? Again, we compared the results of behavioral experiments to a number of computational models. We found that human data was best fit by models that incorporated non-compensatory as well as compensatory components. We conclude that apparently opposing aspects of cognition, such as automatic and deliberate reasoning, or non-compensatory and compensatory decision making, should better be understood as complementary components of cognition.
Three researchers of the Faculty of Science and Engineering have been awarded an ENW-XS grant by the Dutch Research Council (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijke Onderzoek, NWO): Prof. A.I. Guskov the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and...
Bayu Jayawardhana has been appointed scientific director of DISC, the interuniversity research institute and graduate school that unites all university groups in the Netherlands that are active in systems and control theory and engineering. The...
Researchers Clemens Mayer and Danny Incarnato of the University of Groningen have been awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant.
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