IU Provost Professor Jerome Busemeyer receives top award in experimental psychology

  • April 29, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Jerome Busemeyer, Provost Professor in the Indiana University Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, has been named the winner of the 2015 Howard Crosby Warren Medal for his lifelong contributions and groundbreaking new work in psychological science.

Busemeyer received the award April 18 from the Society for Experimental Psychologists, an honorary society for distinguished researchers in the field. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in experimental psychology.

Busemeyer is one of the world's leading researchers in decision-making theory, with work that centers in psychology but extends to economics, business, marketing, political science, engineering and computer science, among other fields. In recent years, he has nearly single-handedly launched an influential new field of scientific inquiry sparking international conferences, special issues of journals and major books.

He is best known for the development of decision field theory, a model of decision-making that describes the variability of human preferences, and how these preferences evolve across time. The theory provides an elegant account of decision-making under risk, as well as explains a host of decision-making paradoxes.

He is also a pioneer in quantum cognition, a new theoretical approach for understanding decision-making that views human cognition as governed not by "rational" principles of standard probability theory, but rather a probability system borrowed from quantum theory. Beyond demonstrating that the new theory predicts research findings regarded as problematic under rational models, Busemeyer has developed new and systematic empirical tests that provide significant support for this new approach.

"The theories that Jerome has developed during his brilliant career have provided explanations for some of the most intriguing paradoxes in the field of human decision-making," said Robert Nosofsky, Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences. "He has done this yet again by demonstrating how quantum-probability theory explains the nature of human cognition."

Richard Shiffrin, Distinguished Professor and the Luther Dana Waterman Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, added: "Many scientists make important contributions, but Jerome Busemeyer is among a very small group of scientists that are responsible for starting a new branch of science."

Based on the mathematical principles of quantum theory, quantum cognition is one of the first attempts to apply the principles of quantum theory to a field outside physics. Concepts of "contextuality" and "quantum entanglement," for example, are used to explain the conditional and ambivalent nature of human thinking in a new light.

Busemeyer joined IU Bloomington in 1997. He holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of South Carolina and served two years as manager of the Cognition and Decision Program at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. A past editor of the Journal of Mathematical Psychology, he is also the author of more than 100 articles in leading peer-reviewed journals in several fields and books on decision-making and cognitive modeling. He has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Institute on Drug Abuse since 1997.

The Warren Medal is the leading award in the field of experimental psychology. Those who have won it have gone on to become fellows of the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Previous winners include four Nobel Prize winners and several legendary psychologists at IU: B.F. Skinner (1942), William Estes (1963), Shiffrin (1999) and Nosofsky (2012).

Begun in 1904, the Society of Experimental Psychologists is a relatively small honorary society, composed of about 230 of the most distinguished scientists in the fields of psychological and brain sciences. The Warren Medal is awarded to the best scientists of this select group.

Jerome Busemeyer

Jerome Busemeyer | Photo by Indiana University

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