Research topics

Many real-life decisions involve an element of uncertainty such that at least one outcome does not occur for sure, but only with some probability (e.g., the probability of an sexually transmitted infection when not using a condom). Such decisions are termed risky decisions. Furthermore, our decisions often involve a temporal dimension such that at least one outcome does not occur immediately, but only after some time in the future (e.g., choosing to go out drinking with friends rather than studying for an upcoming exam). Such decisions are termed intertemporal decisions.

Our main research interests are focused on

  • A general understanding of the psychological and neural processes and mechanisms underlying risky and intertemporal decisions (the first “D” of D2P2)
  • Changes occurring in these processes and mechanisms during the transitions into and out of adolescence (as adolescence is characterized by an increase and peak in impulsive and risk-taking decisions and behaviors; the second “D” of D2P2)
  • How individuals and groups (such as different clinical groups, particularly those characterized by an impulse-control disorder component and/or abnormal affective and motivational processes, such as anorexia, Parkinson’s disease, or chronic procrastination) differ in these processes and their interplay (the two “P”s of D2P2)

Thus, our research is ultimately devoted to a better understanding of the basic psychological and neural processes underlying different types of decisions and associated (problematic) behaviors, with the goal to contribute to ways how we can help people make better and more farsighted decisions.


Much of our work uses controlled experimental designs. We strive to investigate the role of emotional, motivational, and control processes from complementary viewpoints—such as affective (neuro)science, motivational, developmental, cognitive, and clinical psychology—to establish convergent validity and achieve broader impact and policy relevance. Accordingly, we  combine theories, methods, and insights from judgment and decision making and decision neuroscience/neuroeconomics with affective neuroscience, motivational and developmental psychology, and reinforcement learning as theoretical and practical starting points. In addition, we use advanced statistical and computational models to better understand the phenomena of interest.

Collaborators (in alphabetical order)