Research Proposal: The Psychology of Decision Making

After primarily focusing on psychology for a majority of my papers thus far I have come to the conclusion that the topic of “decision making” fits well with my interests and prior research. More specifically I plan to look into:

  • How memories and neurological loops within the brain influence decision making.
  • How mental models and working memory can cause incorrect or ill-devised decisions.
  • Why social forces influence individual decision making. (How groupthink works)
  • Why theories like “collective memory” and “groupthink” seem to be interdependent.

In general I plan to see how previously researched topics like how memories are stored in the brain and how mental models shape awareness can factor into decision making theories. I also want to explore previously abandoned thoughts from previous papers, like how mental models contribute to biases, which I originally sacrificed for brevity. From there I will see how predominant theories of decision making agree with or refute each other and the previous research topics.

Through this research I hope to uncover the core physical and neurological processes of the brain that influence human decisions. I expect that there won’t be any silver bullet answer but I do predict that there will be a few theories that integrate well with previous concepts and extend them to explain decision making.

– Michael Pedersen


Anastasio, Thomas J. Individual and Collective Memory Consolidation: Analogous Processes on Different Levels. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2012. Print.

Andersen, Deborah L, and David F. Andersen. Theories of Decision Making: An Annotated Bibliography. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Alfred P. Sloan School of Management, 1977. Print. [I’ll draw multiple sources from this already curated map of the field]

Baddeley, Alan D, and Graham J. Hitch. “Developments in the Concept of Working Memory.” Neuropsychology. 8.4 (1994): 485-493. Print.

Craik, Kenneth James Williams. The Nature of Explanation. Cambridge: U, 1952. Print.

Frey, Lawrence R. Group Communication in Context: Studies of Natural Groups. Hillsdale, N.J: Erlbaum, 1994. Print.

Johnson-Laird, Philip N. How We Reason. Oxford; New York: Oxford UP, 2006. Print.

Halbwachs, Maurice, and Lewis A. Coser. On Collective Memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Print.

MILLER, GA. “The Magical Number Seven Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information.” Psychological Review. 63.2 (1956): 81-97. Print.

Miller, George A. Plans and the Structure of Behavior. New York: Holt, 1960. Print.

“Review: Decision-Making, an Annotated Bibliography.” The Analysts Journal 14.5 (1958): 94-95. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. [I’ll draw multiple sources from this already curated map of the field]

Sharot, Tali. The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain. New York: Pantheon Books, 2011. Print.


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