UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


London Judgment and Decision Making seminars

Originally established at UCL in the early 1970’s as a weekly Cognition and Reasoning seminar, it later became an intercollegiate seminar on Language and Cognition in the early 1980’s. The name LJDM was finally coined in 1990, and the group has been running seminars under this name ever since, with lecturers and researchers in and around the UK meeting on a regular basis to discuss judgment and decision making, judgments of likelihood, reasoning, thinking, problem solving, forecasting, risk perception and communication, and other related topics.

Unless specified otherwise, all seminars take place on Wednesdays at 5pm, in Room 313 at the Psychology Department, University College London (on the corner of Bedford Way, Gordon Square and Torrington Place, London WC1H 0AP). Map.

To get updates on the current schedule and weekly reminders of the seminars, please subscribe to the Risk and Decision mailing list. All are welcome to attend.

The LJDM seminar series is supported by

University College London
City, University of London

If you would like to present your research to the group or to suggest a speaker, please contact the organizers:
- Sabine Topf (sabine.topf.14@ucl.ac.uk)
- Ayse Ozsari-Sahin (ayse.sahin.18@ucl.ac.uk)
- Cristina Leone (cristina.leone.19@ucl.ac.uk)

Academic Year 2020/21

Seminar Schedule Term 2


Please note that this term all seminars will be held online. To receive the link for joining the respective seminars, please subscribe to the mailing list or check back here on this site on the day.


27 Jan 2021 | Emmanuel Pothos | City, University of London | Please register for this seminar here

The Cost of Asking

It appears that sometimes making a decision changes our beliefs for the relevant options, for example, increasing preference for the choice that we made and decreasing preference for a choice that we did not make. We explore a particular such effect, called the evaluation bias, across several replications. The evaluation bias concerns pairs of stimuli such that they conform to a positive – negative (PN) or negative – positive (NP) arrangement. It appears that the judgment for the second stimulus becomes more intense, when the first stimulus is also rated. We consider some explanations for the evaluation bias and their implications for our understanding of constructive influences in general.


03 Feb 2021 | TBC


10 Feb 2021 | Neo Poon | University of Warwick | Please register for this seminar here

A Multi-Component Process-Tracing Study of the Attraction Effect

The attraction effect is one of the most prominent phenomena in behavioural science and has drawn considerable attention in many fields. However, studies which directly investigate the cognitive mechanisms underlying the attraction effect with process-tracing methods remain uncommon. The present study is among the first to examine the attraction effect with multiple process-tracing methods, that is, with mouse-tracking and reason listing. Methodologically, this addresses the need for triangulation and improves validity, since a single process-tracing method can only target a limited amount of mental processes, often at the same cognitive level, and often rely on assumptions which are difficult to test. Theoretically, this study investigates whether different explanations of the attraction effect converge, and the intertwining roles of attentional patterns and distinct reasons in multialternative choices. Results showed that, for attentional patterns, the target was attended to more frequently and for a longer duration, and transitions between the target and the decoy were more prevalent than other types of transitions, both of which support previous findings. For reasoning, results showed that reasons supporting the chosen option were generated in greater quantity and earlier, which supports Query Theory (Johnson et al., 2007). Finally, with mouse movement data divided into discrete stages for each distinct reason, we studied how information sampling and decision queries affect each other.


17 Feb 2021 | READING WEEK - No seminar


24 Feb 2021 | Aidan Feeney | Queen's University Belfast | Please register for this seminar here

The Nature and Function of Relief

Compared to its counterfactual cousin regret, the emotion of relief has received relatively little attention from psychologists. To further complicate things, relief appears to be experienced under two quite different sets of circumstances: when an aversive experience comes to an end and when an aversive experience is narrowly avoided. Hoerl (2015) refers to these two different senses of the term as temporal relief and counterfactual relief. I will describe three studies designed to investigate the nature and function of relief. The first study examined the relative frequency of everyday experiences of temporal and counterfactual relief and asked whether all instances of relief must have a temporal component. The second study dissociated counterfactual from temporal relief by examining emotional responses immediately after the United Kingdom left the EU in January 2019. The final study tested one hypothesis about the function of temporal relief: that its anticipation helps people to engage in aversive but ultimately beneficial behaviours.


03 Mar 2021 | Rima-Maria Rahal | Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods & Tilburg University | Please register for this seminar here

Staying Blind to Say Fair: To Avoid Ingroup Faviritsm, Decision Makers Avoid Information about Group Membership

Ingroup favoritism is pervasive in decision making, and research has long aimed at understanding which decision makers are particularly prone to discriminate against the outgroup and favor their ingroup. Here we investigate whether decision makers deliberately avoid information revealing group membership to avoid biasing their choice. We present evidence from the reanalysis of an eye-tracking study showing that in money allocation tasks where the matched receiver is an in- or an outgroup member, decision makers visually avoid group identifying information, and consequently showed no ingroup favoritism. Additionally, we show in behavioral studies that decision makers deliberately avoid learning the group membership of their partner in a dictator game. Avoidance of group membership information was linked to inter-individual differences and correlated with beliefs about discrimination. Theoretical implications for intergroup research and theories of ingroup favoritism are discussed.


10 Mar 2021 | Rob Ranyard | Leeds University Business School | Please register for this seminar here

Dimension-based models, intransitive preferences and decision processes

Tversky (1969) presented the first evidence of systematic and predictable intransitive preferences. To explain the violations of weak stochastic transitivity (WST) that he observed, he constructed an extended additive difference model. However, he did not investigate the extent to which the model was a good fit to his data. This question remained unanswered until we recently tested the goodness of fit of a simplified additive difference (SAD) model which predicts transitive or intransitive preferences depending on its parameter values. We reanalyzed Tversky’s lottery study and six replications by estimating the SAD model’s maximum likelihood parameters for each individual choice data set. The model had a very good fit to most individual choice data sets analyzed, with many predictably violating WST. Work in progress is investigating the extent to which the SAD model predicts satisfaction or violation of the triangle inequalities condition, a testable consequence of transitive mixture models. We are also comparing the SAD model with a stochastic lexicographic semiorder heuristic with respect to predictions of intransitive preferences, and we are revisiting verbal reports and neural value responses that were elicited in previous replications. Our preliminary analysis suggests that for most of the participants across the seven studies whose lottery choices were stochastically intransitive, a compensatory additive difference strategy offers the more satisfactory account.


17 Mar 2021 | Wim De Neys | CNRS, Universite de Paris | Please register for this seminar here

The smart System 1: Towards a dual process theory 2.0

The two-headed, dual process view of human thinking has been very influential in the cognitive sciences. The core idea that thinking can be conceived as an interplay between a fast-intuitive and slower-deliberate process has inspired a wide range of psychologists, philosophers, and economists. However, despite the popularity of the dual process framework it faces multiple challenges. One key issue is that the precise interaction between intuitive and deliberate thought processes (or System 1 and 2, as they are often referred to) is not well understood. In my talk I will give an overview of recent empirical advances and show how these force us to re-conceptualize the dual process model of human cognition.


24 Mar 2021 | Tim Mullet | Warwick Business School | Please register for this seminar here

Clairvoyant assumptions and omitted variable bias in attention based Drift Diffusion Models

Drift Diffusion Models have proved highly successful at predicting multiple properties of choice, such as choice proportions, reaction time distributions, fast errors, etc. Many such models include assumptions about attention. Some more explicitly than others. We show, across a range of eye tracking experiments and paradigms, that the most common mechanism/assumption by which attention is incorporated into such models is largely a false positive: The common approach for analysing and fitting such models includes an omitted variable bias. We show that when this variable is included – a main effect of attention bias – the results are instead better explained by a mere exposure mechanism. In more complex choice, we show that these models include assumptions that rely upon subjects having knowledge of information before it has been attended. When this assumption is removed, the models perform poorly.