Areas of expertise in our division include judgment and decision making (Young & Brase), social and statistical reasoning (Brase), psycholinguistics and bilingualism (Harris & Loschky), visual cognition (Loschky), media cognition (Harris), and human-computer interaction (Young & Loschky).
Judgment and Decision Making & Social and Statistical Reasoning
Dr. Gary Brase does research on human reasoning, judgments, and decision making. His work focuses on how evolutionary considerations can illuminate the processes behind how people use different types of information to make inferences and conclusions. Some current projects in this area include:
How people understand and work with numbers differently depending on how they are presented (for example, as frequencies, percentages, fractions, or single-event probabilities).
How people evaluate social situations such as exchanges, precautions, threats, and group memberships.
How people make decisions in interpersonal relationships, including things such as if and when to have children, judgments of attractiveness and estimating mate values.
Media Cognition, Psycholinguistics & Bilingualism
Dr. Richard Harris does research (both applied and basic) examining issues involving psycholinguistics and mass communication. Current research includes:
Autobiographical Memory for Media Experiences: People's memories for their own experiences of consuming media (e.g., watching a movie), including the social experience of the thoughts and emotions remembered as well as the consequences of viewing.
Social Movie Quoting in Conversations: How and why people quote movie lines in social conversation.
Language Processing in Bilinguals: The effects of stress and working memory capacity on drawing of inferences from text by foreign language learners and acquisition of word meanings in code-switched text.
Comprehension of Subtitled Film: Understanding information contained in dialogue and/or subtitles in film, examining various combinations of familiar and unfamiliar languages in the soundtrack and captions.
Visual Cognition, Human-Computer Interaction & Comprehension
Dr. Lester Loschky does visual cognition research. His primary interests are in three areas: real world scene perception, human-computer interaction, and comprehension of both visual narratives (films and picture stories) and language. A unifying thread through these areas is a focus on the interactions between perception, attention, memory, and comprehension processes.
Research topics in scene perception have included:
How people can rapidly categorize a scene within a single eye fixation
What draws people’s attention in scenes, and how that changes from moment-to-moment
What people remember from scenes, and how that is related to their eye movements
Research in human-computer interaction has focused on the dynamics of computer displays that change based on where you look (gaze-contingent displays), and using those to measure how far into a viewer's visual periphery they spread their attention from moment to moment (gaze-contingent useful field of view measures). Other research has focused on using computerized visual cueing to improve problem solving for learning Physics and Mathematics.
Research on comprehension has included listening comprehension, reading comprehension, and more recently film and picture story comprehension. Some common themes in several of these research projects are inference generation (in both linguistic and visual comprehension) and the roles of working memory and eye movements in that process.
Judgment and Decision Making & Human-Computer Interaction
Dr. Young's primary research program involves the study of decision making in dynamic environments. He is currently studying (a) the variables that influence the identification of causes in continuously unfolding environments and (b) the situational and individual variables related to impulsive and risky choice in video game environments. This work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office for Scientific Research, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse. He is also branching out into the area of EEG/ERP brain wave analysis in the area of decision making. Dr. Young continues to integrate his background in computer science with his interest in psychology through the development of computational models of environment-behavior relations.