Laboratory for Rational Decision Making

Martha Van Rensselaer (MVR) Hall
Room G331
Phone: (607) 254-1504
Fax: (607) 255-9856

Are you interested in risk, judgment, and decision-making?
Our lab is currently accepting undergraduate and graduate students.

Please call the lab or send an email to David Garavito.

Participant Recruitment

If you are a parent, teacher, or student and are interested in learning more about recruitment at your school, please call the lab at 607-254-1504.

Be in a study!

Prospective Lab Members

Dr. Valerie Reyna is looking for several dedicated and motivated Research Assistants. The only requirements are reliability, intellectual curiosity, follow-through with detail, and a good attitude. Projects include:

  • Medical Decision Making: This project is ideal for a highly motivated health professions or health psychology student. One current project uses scientific theory to design risk communications that effectively communicate breast cancer, genetic risk and nutrition/fitness.
  • Risky Decision Making: This project is ideal for someone with interests in rationality, judgment, decision making, and/or improving health. For example, we are currently teaching a theoretically enhanced variant of a CDC-approved curriculum to local teenagers. These curricula focus on reducing the risk of sexual activity by teaching adolescents a variety of skills and alternative ways to think about risks with potentially life-altering consequences. 
  • Behavioral Economics, Temporal Discounting, and Impulsivity: This project is ideal for someone interested in understanding why people take risks or delay gratification (quantitative skills are a plus).
  • Children's Memory and Forensic Interviewing: This project is ideal for someone interested in false or dual memories, child development, and/or improving the legal system. An example project investigates memory processes in children and adults that distort memory for experienced events, and uses mathematical models to understand these processes.
  • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI): This project is ideal for those interested in using neuroscience and neuropsychology to better understand the mechanisms of decision-making at different stages of development. For example, we test theoretically motivated manipulations that make biases appear and disappear, producing unique patterns of brain activation associated with meaning and meaning connections.

Within each project, distinct roles are available, and new positions will become available as future projects begin. In addition, if you have any specialized skills (e.g. advanced computer programming knowledge), we may have a spot for you as well. Your interests and talents are valued and will help determine your role in the lab.

Specifically, Dr. Reyna is looking for students with:

  • excellent follow through 
  • attention to detail 
  • ability to successfully work independently 
  • ability to follow instructions 
  • the resourcefulness to overcome challenges

Some research assistants will be involved in teaching a health education curriculum. For these positions, previous experience working with adolescents is a plus.

Dr. Reyna is currently recruiting students for fall and spring semesters. Please include additional information about yourself (a resume would be ideal): major and any minor areas of study, interests and career aspirations, any research or analytical skills and experience, grade point average, your academic year, expected year of graduation, and whether you are an honors student. Make sure to include contact information: all telephone numbers and email addresses.

A commitment of (at least) two semesters and 10 or more hours per week is required. Students will receive course credit and many are also able to satisfy requirements for an honors thesis.

To apply, please contact David Garavito