Dr Rachel Stephens
|Telephone||+61 8 8313 2817|
- PhD in Medicine - Psychology
- B. Psychology (Honours)
My primary research interest is human reasoning and its underlying cognitive processes, with the overarching question: how do people make predictions or draw conclusions based on existing knowledge?
My current main projects are testing influential dual-process theories, which propose that human reasoning and judgement is driven by two qualitatively different kinds of cognitive processes: One is often characterized as fast and intuitive, while the other is described as slow and deliberative. A major project I am working on with Prof. Brett Hayes (University of New South Wales) and Prof. John Dunn (University of Western Australia) involves testing whether dual-process theories are needed to account for inductive and deductive reasoning – assessments of whether a conclusion is ‘plausible’ based on some given information, or ‘logically follows’ from particular information, respectively.
Another project with Prof. Michael Kalish (Syracuse University) tests similar dual-process theories in the domain of category learning.
An important finding across this research is that despite the popularity of dual-process theories, key results that have been used to support them are consistent with simpler single-process theories. This suggests that the dual-process distinction may be unwarranted.
Another ongoing branch of my research with Dr Carolyn Semmler (University of Adelaide) involves face matching: decisions about whether two images show the same (unfamiliar) person. We are interested in when people’s confidence in a decision can be used to predict accuracy. Importantly, we examine the effect of rare non-matches, as occurs in some applied contexts such as border security.
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Entry last updated: Thursday, 13 Feb 2020
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