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Richard GonzalezRichard Gonzalez

Center Director, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research
Co-Director, BioSocial Methods Collaborative
Amos N Tversky Collegiate Professor, Psychology and Statistics, LSA
Professor of Integrative Systems and Design, College of Engineering


E-mail: Email Richard Gonzalez
Address: Research Center for Group Dynamics
Institute for Social Research
University of Michigan
426 Thompson Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106
Phone: 734-647-6785

Research Overview

My research interests focus on judgment and decision making (JDM). Given that so many topics in psychology are related to JDM it look as though I work on many different topics. But, I see a simple theme across all my research. I am interested in how people make judgments and what influences their decisions and choices.

An example of JDM is choice under risk and uncertainty. We study the drivers of risky behavior. This research has taking me to many different domains, including mathematical models, empirical work to test models about risky behavior, brain imaging studies and understanding people’s responses to climate change. A noteworthy project examines the role of stress on risky decisions, using three methods in the same study: a psychopharmacological intervention (hydrocortisone administration), brain imaging, and behavioral modeling. I’m currently studying judgments of well-being, particularly in older adults, and embarking on a new project examining risky behavior in adolescents using predictors from longitudinal data collected when these participants were age 3 and 6.

When a scientist collects data, he or she has to evaluate the evidence, make decisions and possibly revise their beliefs. So the problem of analyzing data is, to me at least, another problem in JDM. I dabble in statistical models. We have made contributions to models of dyadic processes, extended multidimensional scaling to include random effect terms, made contributions in testing parameters in structural equations models, and extended measures of ordinal correlation. Current statistical interests of mine are getting a better handle on mediation models, finding betters ways of testing interactions between predictor variables, the role of Bayesian statistics in psychology, and how machine learning can be used in scientific work that has other objectives besides predictive accuracy. I also focus on developing new experimental design and experimental methods.

I have been interest in applications of my research. This goes back to some early work I did in how witnesses to a crime select a suspect from a police lineup. We compared the lineup to a common procedure used by police where they present only one suspect to the witness and ask “Is that him?” (called a showup). Is the JDM process different for a binary choice or a choice among many options? We could have done this research with boring true/false and multiple choice questions, but we tested this psychological process in police identification procedures involving showups and lineups. The research became much more exciting with direct application to an important real-world problem. The findings were somewhat surprising to the field of eyewitness identification. Current areas of application of JDM models and paradigms are in medical decision making.

A recent JDM interest has been in the general area of design science. How can we leverage the models and major results from the field of JDM into design, engineering, marketing and related fields to improve innovation and product design? This effort has led to a new PhD program in Design Science at the University of Michigan, co-founded and co-led with Panos Papalambros. A major research line in this area is the development and exploration of design heuristics, which are tools to facilitate the exploration of the design space. We hope design heuristics will become a useful aid in generating creative and innovative ideas, designs, products and services. Our current research is targeted at design of products using psychological models that combine with more tradition models of engineering design, industrial design, human factors, and biomechanics.

Here is a link to my CV, which contains links to pdfs of my work, and a link to my google scholar page.