In general, research at the Chair of Cognitive Psychology deals with cognitive processes and their experience - in particular in the areas of memory and multi-attribute decision making. Furthermore, our research focuses on experimental methods and on formal modeling of cognitive processes. 

Memory: Recognition and Source Memory

Everyone has experienced that it is easier to recognize information contents than to actively recall them. For instance, we all know the "tip-of-the-tongue" phenomenon; i.e., we know that we do know a term but we are unable to recall it. When someone gives us the term, however we instantly recognize it as the one we were looking for. Recognition tests are applied in Experimental Psychology for quite some time now. They are used as a measure of the memory's accuracy to investigate on processes of storage and retrieval. Although recognizing information seems effortless, various cognitive processes supporting recognition can be examined. In particular, we are interested in the question which class of mathematically specified models is able to describe recognition performance adequately.
Sometimes we are certain that something in our environment is known to us, e.g., a person looks highly familiar but we are unable to remember where we have met the person before. That is, we are lacking the context in which we ought to integrate the person. The ability to remember (spatiotemporal) context is also known as source memory. This ability is important for our everyday and social life (e.g., knowing who is talking to us), and it is separable - at least partially - from our ability to remember content (e.g., remembering the joke someone told us - But who was it again?). Source memory contains not only the retrieval of information but also the recollection of the corresponding context by means of various judgment and reasoning processes (e.g., "George, would never tell a joke like this - that must have been Tim!"). Thus, source memory is a more complex mechanism than simply remembering. Here, too, we are interested in the question which class of models does best in explaining this ability.

Projects by the German Research Foundation (DFG):

  • Episodic context memory: Processes of remembering and forgetting ("EpisKoP")
  • Source memory measurement and recognition ("SoMMer")
  • Continuous versus discrete modeling of recognition and source memory ("KoDiMo")

Further Literature:

  • Bröder, A. & Meiser, T. (2007). Measuring source memory. Zeitschrift für Psychologie / Journal of Psychology, 215, 52-60.
  • Bröder, A. & Schütz, J. (2009). Recognition ROCs Are Curvilinear - or Are They? On Premature Arguments against the Two-High-Threshold Model of Recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 35, 587-606.
  • Schütz, J. & Bröder, A. (in press). Signal detection and threshold models of source memory. Experimental Psychology.



Multi-Attribut Decisions: Strategies und Models

In multi-attribute decisions, one has to decide between different kinds of information when this information contradicts each other. A typical example is the conflict between quality and price of a product. Frequently, many additional variables or attributes determine the optimal decision in addition to the quality-price ratio. We investigate under which conditions people make which decision. Important variables are, for instance, the effort in working memory or decision routines (Bröder & Schiffer, 2006a, 2006b). Moreover, whether we need to retrieve information from memory or whether information is available during decision making, influences the choice of our decision strategy (Bröder & Schiffer, 2003).

Projects by the German Research Foundation (DFG):

  • Determinants of bounded rational decision strategies ("BR-DENK")
  • Decisions from memory: factors influencing simple strategies and exemplar-based reasoning

Further Literature:

  • Bröder, A. & Newell, B.R. (2008). Challenging some common beliefs about cognitive costs: Empirical work within the adaptive toolbox metaphor. Judgment and Decision Making, 3, 195-204.

  • Bröder, A., Newell, B. R. & Platzer, C. (2010). Cue Integration vs. Exemplar-Based Reasoning in Multi-Attribute Decisions from Memory: A Matter of Cue Representation. Judgment & Decision Making, 5(5), 326-338.
  • Bröder, A. & Schiffer, S. (2003). "Take The Best" versus simultaneous feature matching: Probabilistic inferences from memory and effects of representation format. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 132 (2), 277-293.