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Cognitive Psychology decision making and judgement

Updated on March 9, 2018
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Misty103 is a pen name for a psychology graduate who is a special needs counselor.

How do these articles relate to what you learned about the cognitive process of judgment? How would you, as a cognitive psychologist, expand upon these studies? What implications do the results of these studies have within cognitive psychology and other disciplines?

After reading the article “How Size-Related Food Labels Impact How Much We Eat” I found that I agreed completely with restaurants often not accurately labeling their portion sizes. I have many times ordered the regular instead of the small because I believed that the regular was one portion and the small was a half portion only to find out that the regular was huge. I think restaurants should label their portions as: half sized, regular, and large. The half sized one would be literally half a portion, the small one a full portion, and the large could be one and half to two portions; this way people would know and understand what amount of food they would be consuming. I personally am a fan of restaurants that have the number of calories per meal listed on their menu; it makes it easier to tell which size is the appropriate size to order. I feel that if people were better informed about the size and calorie count of their food they would be able to make more informed judgments. I believe that the results of this study show just how much mislabeling in the restaurant industry contributes to obesity and diabetes. I feel it would be helpful if this study was expanded to research the effect mislabeled portions have on diabetes and obesity.

After I read “Your Choice in Utensils Can Change How Food Tastes” I found that I partially agreed and disagreed with how much utensils can affect the taste of food. I disagree with how much the color of a utensil can affect the taste of food. However I do agree that the material the utensil is made of can alter people’s perspective about the food which may in turn alter the taste of the food. For instance I automatically assume the food is a higher quality when I am given real utensils with my meal instead of plastic. Whereas when a restaurant serves me my food with plastic utensils I tend to judge the food more negatively. The only food that I don’t think is influenced by utensils is ice cream because when a person orders ice cream at an ice cream shop they expect to be given a disposable utensil. The information gained from this study would be the most useful in the restaurant industry as it would allow restaurants to alter their customers’ experience just by changing their utensil. I feel this study should be expanded to see if the same results are found in different cultures. I would also be interested to know effect chopsticks have on the taste of food.


Godoy, M. (2013, June 30). Your Choice In Utensils Can Change How Food Tastes. Retrieved October 7, 2014.

One's Tall is Another's Small! (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2014.

How did the experimenters test their hypothesis on decision-making?
Describe how the experiment results contribute to our knowledge of decision-making as a cognitive process and to the field of cognitive psychology. How can the results be applied to other disciplines?

The hypothesis in the article “article Influence of Branding on Preference-Based Decision Making” is that branding influences top-down processes which affects sensory processing would be seen as changes in nondecision times (Philiastides & Ratcliff, 2013). The experimenters tested this hypothesis by recruiting 20 right handed female volunteers between the ages of 18 to 21with normal vision and no neurological problems to rate 150 clothing items based on preference ratings and rank-order 24 brand logos on the basis of subjective preference (Philiastides & Ratcliff, 2013). Next the volunteers had to “to make binary choices between paired more-preferred-brand and less-preferred-brand items” (Philiastides & Ratcliff, 2013). The results of the study proved that the Diffusion-model fits; “the diffusion model can identify active components of the decision processes as well as account for a range of data from reaction time experiments”( Ratcliff & McKoon Lab). The experiment’s results show that participants tended to choose the more-preferred-brand group more frequently when their brand’s logo rating was higher than that of items from the less-preferred-brand group (Philiastides & Ratcliff, 2013).

The results of this experiment have contributed to our knowledge of decision-making as a cognitive process. Through this experiment we have learned that value judgments occur during the top-down process of sensory processing; the top-down process is when “we form our perceptions starting with a larger object, concept, or idea before working our way toward more detailed information” (Cherry, 2014). The fact that we use a top-down process shows us that we form our value judgments at a late stage of sensory processing process meaning that branding might not affect our early-sensory processing. The results of the experiment show that branding can influence the comparison of products due to a drift bias towards preferred brands. The biggest area outside of psychology where the results of this experiment would be relevant is marketing. People often make quick decisions about competing products that are very similar; this fact indicates that people in the marketing field focus on creating their own unique brand as a part of their marketing strategy to attract consumers.


Cherry, K. (n.d.). What Is Top-Down Processing?. About Education. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from

Moesgaard-Kjeldsen, S. (2013, July 18). How Brand Designs Influence Consumer Choices. Reflectd. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from

Philiastides, M. G., & Ratcliff, R. (2013). Influence of branding on preference-based decision

making. Psychological science, 0956797612470701.

The Diffusion Decision Model. (n.d.). Ratcliff & McKoon Lab. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from

Managing and Learning from Error and Failure: Zhike Lei

"1. How did you become interested in psychology?

>> Long story short. Actually my undergraduate major is in advertising, so I was thinking well, I really enjoy doing creative work. So I got into big projects -- I worked for top three advertising agency in the world. It's a Japanese company, and most of the time we need to work with a lot of, you know, teams. And the -- the company actually surprisingly -- very famous, and very resourceful, and they -- when I joined the company, they first opened their office in Beijing. But with the [inaudible] I worked 60 to 70 hours per week, and most of the time we always missed the deadline. And we love each other, but we just couldn't get really work done. So then I start to wonder, you know, why? Why we have a good group of talented people, why we couldn't really perform very well, and why we couldn't even just get a simple task done. It's not about we don't have money, it's not about we don't have resources, or we don't have a, you know, support, it's not about we don't have skills. So I was really puzzled by that. So after almost two years I felt I was really burned out, but I was really puzzled by that too. So I decide to return to the graduate school. But initially I thought I just want to get my MBA so I can be a better manager. But during my graduate study in my MBA program, then I recognized well, there are a lot of things we could maybe think in the deeper level. And then to be able to have that tools to think on deeper level, then I was advised by my friends, and also my professors to continue doctorate degree. So then I decide to, you know, continue my doctor study in [inaudible] behavior.

>> Okay.

2. What is your current area of research?

>> We are going to focus on the meta cognition in teams. By meta cognition, we mean that, you know, you are going to view the team as a whole, not really a group of individuals. And as a team you can give -- develop the -- sort of a shared understanding, or shared model. So that will help you to understand each other, and [inaudible] each other, and ultimately you can reduce the errors. I'm pretty interesting in -- in promoting a new paradigm in research. Because most of the time when we talk about errors, we talk about wow, error is such a bad thing, error causes significant losses. You know, for example medical errors may cause the patient died, or NASA examples, we can hear about so many tragedies. But for me, I want to promote is not only you need to prevent errors, but also you need to handle it very well if error occurred.

3. What have you learned about common perceptions of error and common ways to prevent errors?

>> There are several reasons I try to argue that why managing errors' to some extent's more important that preventing errors. First of all, preventing errors is a good thing, but however, you know, no matter how skillful you have, or not advanced your technology, you can provide [inaudible]. Most of the time, you know, we know that [inaudible] human. The errors is -- to some extent cannot -- you cannot avoid errors. So to some extent you do need to take some actions you -- you need in [inaudible] making mistakes. And the second important reason is a lot of times when we try to prevent errors, you basically reading -- tell the individuals or -- and please say well, bad, bad, you made a mistake. And they -- in the long run you created -- we call it the blaming culture or fear culture. And actually NASA examples can be, you know, sometimes, you know, we cite it a lot because NASA over the history have the blaming culture. And then the outcome is not they are going to perform better. Actually people feel less, you know, willing to share their concerns, or people feel they cannot really have a voice, or management will not listen to them anyway. So that's the second reason, there's fear [inaudible] error prevention. And the third reason is really -- I want to cite the Coca-Cola example, because, you know, the Coca-Cola was created is because a single mistake, you know, is because the chemist put the wrong formula, and then boom. Beautiful things have occurred. So errors can represent opportunities as well. So if you always think about preventing errors, you actually miss the opportunity for innovations. So that's why I try to argue that we actually not only need to train employees to have safer behavior, or more reliable performance, but also to train them to know that if ever they commit a mistake, they should just be more open to the mistake, and learn from the mistakes.

4. How does collective mindfulness affect the management of mistakes?

>> Most specifically in my presentation I also try to introduce a concept called the mindfulness, particularly in a team settings I will use the term collective mindfulness. So, basically means that a group of individuals in the team, they are working in the team, they are interdependent in each other and that they actually have a collective heed, which means that they are going to have certain traits or collective personality as a team to handle mistake. And then the collective mindfulness also means that they are going to actually seamlessly coordinate with each other, so they have a series of actions. So, they will basically share understanding and share a lot of knowledge. And the last component for the mindfulness is called the feelings, collectively they will have a lot of willingness and the feelings towards each other and then to help each other out.

5. What specific steps can teams take to communicate about and deal with errors?

>> And particularly, I argue that you know there are different procedures the team can do to handle mistakes. The first thing, team really need to proactively recognize error situations. In that way, so they will notice that something needs to be done or something needs to learn from. And then in the second stage, the team really needs to engage each other, to share information, to talk about errors. I call this the error communication. And in this particular process, I think the team norms and team culture become very important because you really want to welcome any constructive concerns and the suggestions. And the last stage is called the learning stage, so that particular stage, I think that it's easy for you to say, oh, now I recognize something wrong, then, let's fix it. That's very important to fix the problem, but more importantly in the future how you can really prevent errors from occurring or you can improve procedures or even say you have a more creative solutions for that, then we call the second order, learning. So over all, I think the mindfulness play a central role there. So, in the error identification stage initially I think that mindfulness means that you need to have the preoccupation about the error of events, so you always worry saying, well, there is something going to happen, I need to be very vigilant. And in then at the second stage, when you try to discuss errors, you try to communication your concerns, the mindfulness means that open mind. So, as a team you will welcome novel ideas, you welcome constructive feedback. And then in the third stage for the learning process the mindfulness means that you need to think outside the box. So, means that you are not only going to fix the problem, but more importantly you have a long term goal and then you can think about what can be done differently.

6. What elements affect human performance in individuals and in teams?

>> When we talk about the individuals, a lot of times we talk about more as individual's abilities. That abilities you want the several component could be physically, you know, for some task you need especially--I always use the pilots. Fatigue is their big enemy, so if you're in the journey the pilot can perform very well, but if you're tired and then the pilot makes mistake. So, physically, the physical condition will impact the individual cognition, but a lot of times that has to do with your training or your experiences. But when we talk about the team cognitions, I think a lot of--I use the term interrelating, so which means is consider is more like a network effect.

7. Can you talk about individual cognition versus team cognition, and the concept of interrelating?

>> So a lot of the individual cognition focus more on your individual training, individual physical condition, but when we talk about a team cognition, or shared cognitions, most of the time we're talking about relationship, or I use the term interrelating, so if we consider a network, so it's not about, you know, 1, 1 plus 1 equals 2 in the team setting, so you have one set of cognition plus a second cognition, then two sets of cognition. I would consider it's because of the network connection or interrelating, then 1 plus 1 is greater than 2, or you can consider the formula becomes 1 plus 1 equals 11, so that's how I view the [inaudible] because you have that, you know, connection then you have developed certain shared understanding and we're part of the more like the brain function. You have a mental model then you can actually increase the resources embedded in the individuals, and then you have a better performance.

8. Are the composition and demographics of a team important? What factors should be considered in creating a cross-functional team?

>> I think that's another excellent question. I think it's very important that team composition is very important for team performance in general or even for error management particularly. And the one example I want to use is that we call it the cross-function team. And imagine that we a have a new product design teams. A lot of times when we try to define a new product we try to get different, you know perspective, so we may ask one person from the, who has a designing background to come to the team. And we ask the marketing people to come to the team because the marketing people can tell you what costumer needs. And a lot of times we also get finance or accounting people involved because they need to tell you the budgeting. So, you can see that when these people come together they will have different view in terms of how they should proceed the task. This design person will think, oh well, we want to design some really beautiful looking products and then the marketing people will say, well, we really want to think about what the costumer really want, maybe for you artist it's beautiful piece of products but, you know, we are talking in the teenagers, they don't care about this function. So, as you can see that you know their composition is different and also, you know, gender can be another example, you know, we have the debate, but the oddity is men and the women think differently, so they will bring different insight.

9. What do we often wrongly assume about teams?

>> A lot of times when we talk about teams, we just say it's more like a snapshot. We just assume they have been working together for a long time, they know each other, but a lot of times nowadays, we heard about the project teams or multi-product project teams. People may involve in different projects so which means that each team will have the rotating role. So, constantly, they will have people coming and then goes. So, as new kid is a newcomer, actually have a very important role because they may challenge in the routines in the teams or they may bring insight for the teams, but on the other hand, you know, the more seasoned team members may feel, well, that's not really orderly dynamic once they have a newcomer. So, we can see a lot of examples team composition plays.

10. What direction do you see your research heading?

>> Currently actually I'm looking at particularly, you know, how teams can manage and learn from errors and particularly, I look at the medical settings. So, a lot of projects involve the healthcare industries and so, very short-term goal for me is really try to generalize these findings from the medical settings because we know that, you know, hospitals is a unique settings because patient died and there's severe consequences associated with their performance. But again a lot of the business or even just organizations, the performance can have a subtle consequences. For example, even we look at the university settings, how you know my research can really have implication for even student teams; that's what I would like to think about. But in the long term, I really hope that, you know, this research I consider is an emerging research on errors in teams and they will actually have more implications for learning and learn and also having implications for quality improvement because a lot of times when we talk about performance, fundamentally, we want to transfer those performance into [inaudible] amount and then the quantity become very important outcome measure for them. So, I would like to examine, you know, whether their approach to errors will actually impact the quality or maybe to some extent, if you overdo it, if you focus too much on errors, but then you probably, that would distract you from doing some other important procedures before the quality as well"(Lei).


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