logo en full

Research

The project focuses on the impact of cognitive limitations on decision making. This impact is obvious in everyday decision-making, which we often do under time pressure or stress. The current project sheds light on the mechanisms, which determine how we make decisions and how these decisions are influenced by our emotions, memory or the need of cognitive closure.

 

Research project

The role of cognitive limitations in predecisional information processing



Research Unit
UNI SWPS english
Grant Amount
110 000 PLN
Funding Source
MNiSW logo EN

Duration of Research Project: 2010–2013

 

The project focuses on the impact of cognitive limitations on decision making. This impact is obvious in everyday decision-making, which we often do under time pressure or stress. The current project sheds light on the mechanisms, which determine how we make decisions and how these decisions are influenced by our emotions, memory or the need of cognitive closure.

Research objectives

Many deviations from rationality have been documented. Most of the studies in this area focus on the impact of situational variables (e.g. time pressure or task complexity) or the impact of imperfect knowledge. There is relatively little research on the impact of cognitive limitations on decision making.

The main goal of the project is to study the impact of cognitive limitations on predecisional information processing and decision strategy use. The limitations of interest may stem from memory processes, from the influence of emotions, from cognitive aging or from the need for cognitive closure. A second goal is to answer the question whether cognitive limitations impair or aid decision processes. Depending on task conditions, various decision strategies are better suited for making choices and lead to accurate choices

We propose a series of 16 studies to test hypotheses about the relations among cognitive limiatations, their sources and their effects on predecisional information processing ans strategy use.

 

The studies are divided into 4 groups testing specific hypotheses about the impact of:

1) working memory limitations,
2) emotions,
3) need for cognitive closure,
4) cognitive aging.

In each group of studies, two sources of variability in predecisional information processing will be controlled: situational variables and individual differences. This will allow to asses the impact of these factors separately, as well as to assses their joint impact. The main goal of each of the four groups of studies will be to asses predecisional information processing and decision strategy use with the same, standardized methods, which will allow to compare the impact of various sources of cognitive limiatations on decision making. As an additional source of experimental control, psychophysiological methods will be used, namely eyetracking and skin conductance measurement. This will allow to better track the process of predecisional information processing and the affective responses to experimental manipulations.

 

Researchers

258 szymon wichary

 

Szymon Wichary, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator
Psychologist. His research interests focus on cognition-emotion interactions and the role of emotions and individual differences in decision making.
swichary@swps.edu.pl

Results

Simplified Decision Making Strategies

Decision making strategies are blueprints for predecisional information processing. Some of them, e.g. compensatory strategies, require complex cognitive activity, such as multiplication or addition, and allow to supplement lack of one type of information with another type of reliable data. Decision making in a state of strong emotional arousal and under the influence of strong negative emotions (e.g. fear or disgust), tends to result in selective processing of information. In such situations people choose simplified decision making strategies, i.e. non-compensatory strategies. It is associated with the production of noradrenaline in the brain. Noradrenaline is a neurotransmitter and hormone that is produced naturally and has wide ranging effects on many areas of the body. It is responsible for the body's reaction to stressful situations and results in a narrowed analysis of data as well as automatic, uncontrolled, and fast judgements.

Emotional Arousal and Decision Making

An innovative application of psychophysiological assessment allows for better than it was possible before, objective and precise analysis of the impact that arousal has on decision making. Research conducted by Szymon Wichary, Ph.D. has shown a connection between skin conductance and the scope of information we can processes in a given situation. The higher the skin conductance, i.e. tendency for sweaty palms, the less information we are able to analyse in high pressure or stressful situations. As the result, people under stress are more prone to making decisions based on mental shortcuts. This correlation is especially strong in men.

Previous research into this type of correlation indicated that stress results in the limited attention, however it did not explain how stress impacts decision making. In this study we have applied an additional method for identification of decision making strategies. Study participants were asked to choose one of four job candidates in a computer-based task. We were observing how much information about the candidates the participants were downloading and what decision making strategy they were using. Before making the final decision they were exposed to a drastic photograph for six seconds. We wanted to check, if this type of manipulation is effective. Therefore, we measured the level of their palm sweating during the decision making process, explains Szymon Wichary.

Paramedics, firefighters or soldiers, i.e. the first responders in crisis situations, such as accidents, cataclysms, and combat, must make decisions under emotional stress. We can try to help them. Current technologies enable the development of simple monitoring systems for the assessment of physiological reactions and cognitive processes in people making decisions under high cognitive stress, in crisis situations.

 

Publications

  • Wichary, S., Mata, R., Rieskamp, J. (2015). Probabilistic inferences under emotional stress: How arousal affects decision processes. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making. DOI: 10.1002/bdm.1896
  • Wichary, S., Domaradzka, E. & Sędek, G. (2012). The impact of aging on information integration in reasoning and decision making. In: M. Eysenck, T. Maruszewski, & M. Fajkowska (Eds.) Personality, Cognition and Emotion. Clinton Corners, NY: Eliot Werner Publications.
  • Wichary, S., Rieskamp, J. (2011). Probabilistic inferences under emotional stress. In L. Carlson, C. Hoelscher, & T.F. Shipley (Eds.), Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1872-1877). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Search the database of Resaearch Project

Faculty
Funding Source
Discipline
Principal Investigator

Research Projects

Research Projects 01-09-2016

Future is Uncertain

Imagine a world where everything you have planned, would happen for certain. Moreover, if all the future events were positive, it would be a perfect world. Unfortunately in real life...

Read more

Research Projects 08-08-2016

Attitudinal Influences on Moral Judgments

Moral judgments and impressions are tremendously important. In extreme situations they can decide about life or death, for example convicted murderers perceived as untrustworthy (based on their appearance) are more...

Read more

Research Projects 21-07-2016

A History of Rwanda

Most people have heard about the Rwanda genocide. However, Rwanda’s history as a country goes back to the 19th century. Prior to Belgian colonisation, the current territory of Rwanda had...

Read more

Research Projects 09-06-2016

Peer Groups and Migration

The school-to-work transition is not a one-time event in the lives of young people. Rather, it is a phase that may last a few years and may include several career...

Read more

Research Projects 11-05-2016

Law on Higher Education 2.0 - Guidelines for Higher Education System i…

The team of lawyers from SWPS University, under the leadership of Professor Hubert Izdebski, will take an active role in preparing the guidelines for the new Law on Higher Education...

Read more

Research Projects 09-05-2016

The influence of psychological knowledge on the decision-making proces…

Witness testimony is a crucial element of the criminal justice system. However, memory is often false and perception distorted. Yet the testimony based on such imperfect data may change a...

Read more

Research Projects 09-09-2015

DESMOPSI System

Nowadays, the understanding of the need for psychological therapy in difficult or traumatic situations and the social acceptance of psychological intervention is growing. At the same time, in Poland alone...

Read more

Research Projects 21-08-2015

DATABASE OF EMOTIONAL MOVIES and its Application in Temperamental Stud…

An attempt to understand emotional responses and a nature of determined temperament dates back to the Ancient Greece. Modern science applies many research methods for studies of emotional behaviors, including...

Read more

Research Projects 21-08-2015

Cognitive and motivational determinants of sympathetic magic in close …

Does separation with a loved-one change the way we perceive mementos (e.g. souvenirs, clothes, and photographs) associated with the relationship? The research project conducted by psychologists from the Sopot Campus...

Read more

Research Projects 13-08-2015

Turning depressed mood into a joke - is it beneficial?

The application of emotion regulation skills in prevention of depression has been attempted repeatedly, without much success so far. Researchers from SWPS University will investigate the effects of humor, one...

Read more

Research Projects 17-02-2015

In Charge or in Control?

Having power over others or being subjected to power exercised by others is almost an everyday experience for large segments of the society. Therefore, power relationships have broad social consequences...

Read more

Research Projects 09-12-2014

Political Knowledge in Poland

The aim of the project is to investigate political knowledge in Poland, and its importance for the Polish political system. We want to check how knowledgeable/ignorant Poles are about politics...

Read more

Research Projects 09-12-2014

Plato's Conception of Justice from the Perspective of the Contemporary…

The project, though about Plato, relates to one of the fundamental problems of contemporary civilisation: are human rights, which are based in human dignity, truly universal in space and time?...

Read more

Research Projects 15-05-2014

Trajectories of Coping with Illness

The stress of coping with a serious or chronic illness impacts not only the patient, but also their family. The family worries about their loved one and must juggle their...

Read more

Research Projects 28-03-2014

Seeing is believing? Suggestion and misinformation in the video transm…

The objective of the project is to study how video images and messages are perceived and assessed by viewers. During the project, the researchers will study the reactions of viewers...

Read more

Research Projects 07-01-2014

E-COMPARED European Comparative Effectiveness Research on Internet-bas…

In 2010, 30 million Europeans were affected by depression and the number continues to grow. Half of the depression sufferers requiring mental care lack access to care services. Moreover, they...

Read more

Research Projects 09-09-2013

Social distortion mechanisms in comparative judgments. Alternative exp…

Social distortions in comparative judgments may lead to the categorization of people and divisions and thus to depreciation of their values. The research project relates to the phenomenon known as...

Read more

Research Projects 09-09-2013

The role of cognitive limitations in predecisional information process…

The project focuses on the impact of cognitive limitations on decision making. This impact is obvious in everyday decision-making, which we often do under time pressure or stress. The current...

Read more

Research Projects 09-09-2013

The Expertise Bias: its psychological mechanisms, sources and conseque…

Consumers make decisions related to investing money, taking bank loans or buying insurance policies. They often consult their choices with financial experts. In the present project we carry out experiments...

Read more

Research Projects 11-03-2013

To train or to play? A comparison of traditional and gamified training…

The aim of the project is to better understand the processes undergoing during a traditional cognitive training and to compare them with analogous processes happening during a modern method of...

Read more

Research Projects 19-10-2012

Attentional bias modification and depressive disorders

It is estimated that almost 10 percent of general population suffers from depression, but not everyone has access to effective treatments. Nowadays, depression is treated primarily with pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy...

Read more

Research Projects 21-08-2012

Psychological and Biological sources of risk aversion

Are men bigger risk takers than women? The research project, led by Szymon Wichary, Ph.D., provides data on personal differences and their impact risk taking and risk aversion. Combining data...

Read more

Research Projects 01-12-2011

A typology of the relations between non-governmental organizations in …

A close working relationship between NGOs, including knowledge and best practice sharing as well as common planning and project development, supports the growth of the third sector in economy. A...

Read more