What I do


I study how people make judgments and decisions; how these processes shape behavior at the individual, group, and organizational level; and how we can help people make better judgments and decisions. I investigate these questions with computational modeling and methods from the behavioral, cognitive, and neuro- sciences. When I’m not at my desk you can find me running, biking, rowing, or out in the woods. In a parallel world, I own my own bike shop in the Midwest.


Decisions, almost by definition, link our thoughts to our actions. My research uses computational models to characterize this critical link forcing us to specify the mental processes (i.e., memory, learning, or reward evaluation) involved in making a decision, the environments those choices take place in, and the interaction between the person and the environment. By taking this approach, we develop a better understanding of how the mind works and formulate mathematical models to help individuals, groups, and organizations, make better decisions.


 Jane Beattie Scientific Research Award for Innovative Research, European Association for Decision Making, 2015

National Science Foundation CAREER Award, 2010

Hillel Einhorn Young Investigator Award, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, 2008







Hertwig, R., Pleskac, T. J., Pachur, T, & the Center for Adaptive Rationality (2019). Taming Uncertainty. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/taming-uncertainty


Recent manuscripts and publications


Pleskac, T. J., Conradt, L., Lueker, C., & Hertwig, R. (invited for resubmission) The ecology of competition: A theory of risk-reward environments in adaptive decision making. Invited for resubmission at Psychological Review http://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/ewzcb

Pleskac, T. J., Johnson, D., J.,  Cesario,  J., Terrill, W., & Gagnon, G. (under review). Modeling Police Officers’ Deadly Force Decisions in an Immersive Shooting Simulator.


Tump, A. N., Pleskac, T. J., & Kurvers, R. (in press. Wise or mad crowds? The cognitive mechanisms underlying information cascades. Science Advances.  https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/6vt2p

Busemeyer, J. R., Kvam, P. D., & Pleskac, T. J. (in press). Comparison of Markov versus quantum dynamical models of human decision making.


Leuker, C., Samartzidis, L., Hertwig, R., & Pleskac, T.J. (in press).When money talks: Judging risk and coercion in high-paying clinical trials. PloSone,

15 (1),e0227898. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227898

Albrecht, R., Hoffmann, J. A., Pleskac, T. J., Rieskamp, J., & von Helversen, B. (in press). Competitive retrieval strategy causes multimodal response distributions in multiple-cue judgments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

Litvinova,A.,Herzog,S.M.,Kall,A.A.,Pleskac,T.J.,&Hertwig,R.(in press). How the"wisdom of the inner crowd" can boost the accuracy of confidence judgments. Decision

Leuker, C.*, Pachur, T., Hertwig, R., & Pleskac, T. J.† (in press) Do People Exploit Risk–Reward Structures To Simplify Information Processing in Risky Choice? Journal of the Economic Science Association https://doi. org/10.1007/s40881-019-00068-y


Dai, J.*, Pachur, T., Pleskac, T. J., & Hertwig, R. (in press). What the future holds and when: A description-experience gap in intertemporal choice. Psychological Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797619858969

Leuker, C.*, Pachur, T., Hertwig, R., & Pleskac, T. J. (in press). Too good to be true? Psychological responses to surprising options in risk–reward environments. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making. https://doi.org/10.1002/bdm.2116 

Busemeyer, J.R., Kvam, P., & Pleskac, T.J. (2019). Markov versus quantum dynamic models of belief change during evidence monitoring.

ScientificReports,  9 (1),1–10. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-54383-9


Bhatia, S., & Pleskac, T. J. (2019). Preference accumulation as a process model of desirable ratings. Cognitive Psychology, 109, 47-67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogpsych.2018.12.003


Pleskac, T. J., Yu, S.*, Hopwood, C., & Liu, T. (2019). Mechanisms of deliberation during preferential choice: Perspectives from computational modeling and individual differences. Decision, 6, 77-107. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/dec0000092

Schürman, O.*, Frey, R., & Pleskac, T. J. (2019) Mapping risk perceptions in dynamic risk-taking environments Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 32, 94-105https://doi.org/10.1002/bdm.2098


Johnson, D. J.*, Cesario, J., & Pleskac, T. J. (2018). How Prior Information and Police Experience Impacts Decisions to Shoot. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 115(4), 601-623. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000130


Hertwig, R., & Pleskac. T. J. 2018). The construct-behavior gap and the description-experience gap: Comment on Regenwetter & Robinson (2017). Psychological Review, 125(5), 844-849. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rev0000121


Dai, J.*, Pleskac, T. J., & Pachur T. (2018) Dynamic cognitive models of intertemporal choice.  Cognitive Psychology, 104, 29-56. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogpsych.2018.03.001


Leuker, C.*, Pachur, T., Hertwig, R., & Pleskac, T. J. (2018). Exploiting risk-reward structures in decision making under uncertainty. Cognition, 175, 186-200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.02.019


Pleskac, T. J., Cesario, J., & Johnson, D.J.* (2018). How race affects evidence accumulation during the decision to shoot. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-017-1369-6


Leuker, C.*, Pleskac, T. J., Pachur, T., & Hertwig, R. (2017). How the mind exploits risk-reward structures in decisions under risk. Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. 


Dai, J.*, Pleskac, T. J., & Pachur, T., (2017). A dynamic tradeoff model of intertemporal choice. Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. 


Kvam, P. D.*, & Pleskac, T. J. (2017). A quantum information architecture for cue-based heuristics. Decision, 4, 197–233. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/dec0000070


Johnson, D.*, Hopwood, C., Cesario, J., & Pleskac, T. J. (2017). Advancing research on cognitive processes in social and personality psychology: A drift diffusion model primer. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8, 413–423. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550617703174


Kvam, P. D.*, & Pleskac, T. J. (2016). Strength and weight: The determinants of choice and confidence. Cognition, 152, 170–180. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2016.04.008


Uitvlugt, M. G., Pleskac, T. J., & Ravizza, S. M. † (2016). The nature of working memory gating in Parkinson’s Disease: A multi-domain signal detection examination. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience, 16, 289–301. http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13415-015-0389-9 


Pleskac, T. J., (2015). Learning models in decision making. In G. Keren & G. Wu (Eds.), The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Judgment & Decision Making (pp.629–657). Chichester, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9781118468333.ch22


Pleskac, T. J., Diederich, A., & Wallsten, T. S. (2015). Models of decision making under risk and uncertainty. In J. R. Busemeyer, J. T. Townsend, Z. J. Wang, & A. Eidels (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Computational and Mathematical Psychology (pp. 209–231). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199957996.013.10


Kvam, P. D.*, Pleskac, T. J., Yu, S.,* & Busemeyer, J. R. (2015). Interference effects of choice on confidence: Quantum characteristics of evidence accumulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, 10645–10650. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1500688112


Yu, S.*, Pleskac, T. J., & Zeigenfuse, M.* (2015). Dynamics of postdecisional processing of confidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144, 489–510. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000062


Pleskac, T. J., & Hertwig, R. (2014). Ecologically rational choice and the structure of the environment. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 2000–2019.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000013


Zeigenfuse, M.*, Pleskac, T. J., & Liu, T. (2014). Rapid decisions from experience. Cognition, 131, 181–194. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2013.12.012


Pleskac, T. J., & Wershbale, A.* (2014). Making assessments while taking repeated risks: A pattern of multiple response pathways. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 142–162. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0031106


Order of authorship is in terms of contribution. I typically give students priority in authorship order.

* graduate student or post doc

† alternative ordering with last author being senior author


Teaching Awards

Michigan State University, College of Social Science Alumni Association Outstanding Teaching Award, 2013

University of Maryland Distinguished Teaching Assistant, 2002


© 2017–2019 by Tim Pleskac.