My research interests are in the development and application of item response theory (IRT) models to measure psychological constructs. Over the past two decades, I have developed a family of polytomous IRT models to unfold responses to test or questionnaire items. These unfolding models imply higher item scores to the extent that an individual is located close to an item on a unidimensional latent continuum. Unfolding item response models can be used to measure attitudes using responses from traditional Likert or Thurstone scales.
The goal of the research in my Systems Psychology Lab (SPL) is to understand how coordinating activities with others helps shape our thoughts, actions, and performance capabilities. Team dynamics occur in many contexts—medicine, sports, military—and are fundamental to accomplishing a variety of human tasks. Therefore, research in the SPL seeks to understand and enhance human performance in team tasks using a variety of methodological techniques, including communication analysis, kinematics, physiology, and neural approaches.
We all experience associative memory failures like forgetting a person’s name or where we parked the car. These failures occur with greater frequency as we age and they are also one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. With the rapidly increasing population of older adults, it is of vital importance to understand the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie these failures.
My interests span modern psychometric methods (e.g., item response theory), cognitive and intelligence, and quantitative methods. My main research program has been to integrate cognitive theory into psychometric models and test design. To this goal, I have been developing new item response theory models and conducting empirical research on the cognitive basis of an individual's responses. Recently, this effort has lead to the exciting possibility of "tests without items".
I am interested working memory capacity and the relationship of that concept to the concept of attention control. I have argued that individual differences in the construct measured as working memory capacity reflects differences in the ability to control attention to internally generated and externally elicited representations and that differences in this ability is an important component of general fluid intelligence (Engle & Kane, 2004).
I study individual differences in adult cognitive development. I am interested in age-related declines in basic mechanisms of cognition, memory, and information processing, especially in terms of understanding ‘successful cognitive aging.’ That is, characterizing who declines and who does not, and evaluating possible explanations for the differences. A major focus of my research program is in metacognition and strategic self-regulation –evaluating how people monitor and adapt their behavior in tasks to improve their performance.
My research spans several related research areas of differential, educational, cognitive, applied experimental, and industrial and organizational psychology. Theory and empirical research I have conducted relates to the nature of adult learning, skill acquisition, student and employee selection, training, abilities, personality, and motivation.