Rick Thomas

Rick Thomas

Professor of Psychology


Ph.D. (2004) Psychology, Decision Science Kansas State University


The fundamental premise of my work is that computational models from cognitive psychology and cognitive science can be adapted to provide testable process models of decision-making phenomena and optimized to support the decision-making of professionals. I direct the Decision Processes Laboratory (DPL). The DPL utilizes a range of experimental methodologies (behavioral, eye-tracking, EEG) and computational techniques (statistical, mathematical, neural networks) to investigate decision-making phenomena. Much of our applied work concerns the study and measurement of expertise; primarily in the areas of performance evaluation and the development of decision support tools. One area of specialization is the development of computational models that describe how people, generate hypotheses to explain patterns of data, which is common in everyday problem solving; and it is the basis for decision-making in many disciplines, such as medical diagnosis, criminal investigation, intelligence sensemaking, software debugging, and scientific discovery. We also seek to optimize models of human hypothesis generation to serve as decision support tools to aid the diagnostic decision-making of professionals and to improve the robustness of existing applications of artificially intelligent classification systems.

Selected Publications

  • Buttaccio, D. R., Lange, N. D., Hahn, S., & Thomas, R. P. (2014). Explicit awareness supports conditional visual search in the retrieval guidance paradigm. Acta Psychologica, 145, 44-53.
  • Lange, N. D., Buttaccio, D. R., Davelaar, E. J., & Thomas, R. P. (2014). Using the memory activation (MAC) procedure to investigate the temporal dynamics of hypothesis generation. Memory & Cognition, 42, 264-274.
  • Lange, N.D., Thomas, R.P., Buttacio, D.R., Illingworth, D.A. & Davelaar, E.J. (2013) Working memory dynamics bias the generation of beliefs: The influence of data presentation rate on hypothesis generation. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, (20)1,171-176. doi: 10.3758/s13423-012-0316-9.
  • Lange, N.D., Thomas, R.P., Buttaccio, D.R. & Davelaar, E.J. (2012) Catching a glimpse of working memory: Top-down capture as a tool for measuring the content of the mind. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 74(8),1562-7. doi: 10.3758/s13414-012-0378-9.

Contact Information

JS Coon 233
Lab Url