Psychology

The Psychology of Music and the ‘tuneR’ Package

Introduction This semester I’m TA’ing a course on the Psychology of Music taught by Phil Johnson-Laird. It’s been a great course to teach because (i) so much of the material is new to me and (ii) because the study of the psychology of music brings together so many of the intellectual tools I enjoy, including […]

Twitter Math Puzzle and Solution

Yesterday I posted a very simple math puzzle to Twitter that I found in Jonathan Baron’s book, Thinking and Deciding. The puzzle is the following: Show that every number of the form ABC,ABC is divisible by 13. The puzzle comes up in Baron’s book as an example of an “insight problem” in which one goes […]

Speeding Up MLE Code in R

Recently, I’ve been fitting some models from the behavioral economics literature to choice data. Most of these models amount to non-linear variants of logistic regression in which I want to infer the parameters of a utility function. Because several of these models aren’t widely used, I’ve had to write my own maximum likelihood code to […]

Inconsistencies in Bayesian Models of Decision-Making

But modeling devices that make sense for an unbiased decisionmaker may not make sense for a biased one. For example, why would individuals have priors and posteriors if they are destined to apply Bayes’ law incorrectly?1 A question I often ask myself. Wolfgang Pesendorfer : Behavioral Economics Comes of Age: A Review Essay on Advances […]

Academic Jargon: Field-Specific Insults

Every academic field seems to develop a set of generic insults based on their intellectual toolkit. Here are two examples I hear often: Probabilists and Statisticians: “I think that’s an interesting case, but it’s in a set with measure zero.” Economists: “X group’s behavior is clearly rent-seeking.” Do any readers have good examples from other […]

Response Times, The Exponential Distribution and Poisson Processes

Response Times, The Exponential Distribution and Poisson Processes

I’m currently reading Luce’s “Response Times”. If you don’t know anything about response times, they are very easily defined: a response time is the length of time it takes a person to respond to a simple request, measured from the moment when the request is made to the moment when the person’s response is recorded. […]

Escher and Redemption: Using Cyclical Preferences to Overcome Hedonic Treadmills

This morning I started thinking about using violations of classical economic theory to increase well-being. The main idea is probably obvious to anyone familiar with the relevant literature on cyclical preferences and the hedonic treadmill, but I think it’s still worth articulating cleanly. Please let me know if you have a reference to existing literature […]

Failures of Self-Control: More Data

Just when you worried that preference reversals weren’t real: Professional bookmakers rarely accept bets from individuals who directly control the outcome of the bet. We analyse a unique exception to this rule and a potential policy innovation in the battle against obesity: a weight loss betting market. If obese individuals have time-inconsistent preferences then commitment […]

Paul Meehl via Andrew Gelman

Andrew Gelman points out that there is now a website devoted entirely to Paul Meehl. In my mind, Paul Meehl was one of the greatest psychologists of the 20th century. Few other people in our field were more level-headed or insightful. Every paper written by Meehl is a delight to read, so this is a […]

IQ, Intelligence and Hypocrisy

Razib’s recent post on IQ at Gene Expression contained a particularly poignant passage that I thought I should quote: Of course, there is “believe,” and then there is believe. The same people who don’t believe in intelligence are proud of their GRE scores, convinced that Republicans and religious people have lower IQ’s, and outraged when […]