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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.

Tim Pleskac

Professor of Psychology

 

University of Kansas

1415 Jayhawk Blvd

426 Fraser Hall

Lawrence, KS, 66045

 

Email

pleskac@ku.edu

 

Lab

KU Behavioral Science Laboratory

 

Additional positions

Associate Editor, Psychological Science 2016–

 
2014–

Senior Research Scientist

MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE

I help lead an interdisciplinary research center composed of 30 researchers studying how individuals and groups search for information and make decisions when time and resources are limited. At the Center, I also train researchers in computational modeling and advanced statistics because I believe when used wisely mathematics brings structure to scientists’ thinking.

2007–2014

Associate Professor (2013–14)
Assistant Professor (2007–13)

MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

As a member of the psychology department, I directed a laboratory focused on developing and testing computational models of judgment and decision making. Key accomplishments include earning an NSF CAREER Award and being named the MSU College of Social Science Outstanding Teacher in 2013.

2006-2007

NIMH Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Cognitive Science Program

INDIANA UNIVERSITY

Bloomington, Indiana

2014–

Senior Research Scientist

2006-2007

NIMH Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Cognitive Science Program

INDIANA UNIVERSITY

Bloomington, Indiana

2018–  
Professor
2014– 

Adjunct Researcher (2018– ) 

Senior Research Scientist (2014 –18)

MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE

I helped lead an interdisciplinary research center–the Center for Adaptive Rationality–composed of 30 researchers studying how individuals and groups search for information and make decisions when time and resources are limited. At the center, I also trained researchers in computational modeling and advanced statistics because I believe when used wisely mathematics brings structure to scientists’ thinking.

2007–2014

Associate Professor (2013–14)
Assistant Professor (2007–13)

MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

As a member of the psychology department, I directed a laboratory focused on developing and testing computational models of judgment and decision making. Key accomplishments include earning an NSF CAREER Award and being named the MSU College of Social Science Outstanding Teacher in 2013.

2000–2004

Psychology, M.S., Ph.D.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND – COLLEGE PARK

Under my adviser Dr. Tom Wallsten, I studied experimental psychology with a particular focus on mathematical models of cognition. My dissertation used mathematical models of risky decision making to develop laboratory-based gambling tasks that could be used to identify and measure differences in people who take real-world risks (e.g., drug use).

1996–2000

Psychology, B.S., cum laude

UNIVERSITY OF IOWA

In addition to a B.S. in Psychology, I minored in Philosophy, Economics, and Political Science. My honors thesis focused on the effect of body temperature on time and visual perception and was done under the advisement of Dr. Mark Blumberg. I also ran on Iowa's cross country and track teams. My senior year I was named co-captain of the cross country team.

 
COMPUTATIONAL DECISION SCIENCE

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.

DELIBERATION
How do people form a belief or a preference? I have investigated this question from many different angles from perceptual decisions to economic decisions to confidence judgments to probabilistic forecasts. Across these domains, my work has shown a similar deliberation process is at work where samples of information are sequentially sampled about the object or event in question and accumulated over time. Our understanding of this evidence accumulation process is precise enough that in controlled laboratory settings we can predict the choices people will make, the time it will take to make them, and the confidence they will have in them. 
CHOICE ENVIRONMENTS

The decisions people make are shaped as much by their own psychological processes as the choice environments they make their decisions in. The question then is what are the critical properties of these choice environments, and how are these structures used to make decisions? In Berlin we have been working to understand how people use the relationship between risks and rewards to make decisions. This has led us to study why the inverse relationship between risks and rewards is so prevalent (it isn't simply due to economic forces), and how people use this relationship to make inferences about the chances of different outcomes.

TRANSLATIONAL MODELING
Often computational models in psychology are used to understand behavior in specific laboratory tasks. I am interested in translating these computational models from the laboratory into tools for identifying and improving problematic decision making. In this area, I have worked to use computational models to identify decision making deficits among real world risk takers like drug users,  to identify critical events or shocks that lead students to quit school, and more recently understand a police officer's decision to shoot and the role a suspect's race can play in the decision. 
RESEARCH AWARDS

 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

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

Book

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.

WIREsCognitiveScience.

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

 

COURSES
Decision Sciences
  • Judgment & Decision Making

  • Negotiation Theory

  • Behavioral Game Theory

  • Computational Models
    of Decision Making

 

Quantitative Methods
  • Statistics (Undergraduate & Graduate)

  • Research Design and Methods

  • Bayesian Data Analysis

  • Computational Modeling

 
Cognitive Science
  • Cognitive Modeling

  • Higher-Order Cognitive Processes

  • Current Topics in Cognitive Science

Teaching Awards

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

University of Maryland Distinguished Teaching Assistant, 2002

 
 
CONTACT ME

Tim Pleskac

Professor

Phone:

Coming soon.

Email:

pleskac@ku.edu 

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© 2017–2019 by Tim Pleskac.