Hello and welcome to my website!

My name is Mikhail Spektor and I am a behavioral scientist based in the UK.

I hold a PhD in Psychology from the University of Basel and I'm currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick.

My main line of research focuses on the cognitive processes underlying individual decision making, in particular when choices violate classical notions of economic rationality. I investigate how individuals learn about the properties of choice alternatives and how value is represented. In my research, I rely on a combination of experimental, computational, and physiological methods.

Mikhail Spektor


March 15, 2024 What is people's attitude towards the (a)symmetry of outcomes? Depending on which literature you consult, you will get different answers. Research in finance and using risky choices suggests that people like options "lottery-like" options that provide small wins most of the time but sometimes very large wins. On the other hand, experimental research into experience-based choices suggests the exact opposite pattern. We reconcile these seemingly contradictory findings by showing how the comparison of outcomes can mask the intrinsic preferences towards skewness. Very proud of this publication! Out now in PNAS. A summary (https://x.com/Seb_Olschewski/status/1768703691219947709) and press release (https://www.unibas.ch/en/News-Events/News/Uni-Research/How-comparison-options-affect-stock-buys.html)
December 07, 2023 "Losses loom larger than gains", or do they? Our investigation into the absolute and relative stability of loss aversion across contexts is out now in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. A summary: https://twitter.com/Mikhail_Spektor/status/1732810708272779387
June 12, 2023 I haven't updated the website in a long while... It should be up-to-date now.
Jun 11, 2023 New preprint: How do people explore options before making a choice? In an analysis of over 1M sampling decisions, Dirk Wulff and I show that people rely on a toolbox of search strategies in an adaptive and dynamic way: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/7ru58
Feb 16, 2023 New preprint: How stable is loss aversion, really? When it changes across different contexts, is the rank order maintained? We investigate this question in our newest preprint: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/cwm2s
May 18, 2022 How are context effects in perceptual decision making (such as judging the length of a line) and preferential decision making (such as choosing what to buy for lunch) related to each other? We investigated this question with a focus on information-processing strategies using eye-tracking methodology and computational modeling. Out now in Cognition. A summary: https://twitter.com/Mikhail_Spektor/status/1526970175744008199
April 01, 2022 Not April's Fools: Today, I joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick as an Assistant Professor. Looking forward to working with many great colleagues!
March 30, 2022 In many situations, people have to filter out relevant and ignore irrelevant information. Past research (e.g., the anchoring effect) has shown that even entirely irrelevant information can have an impact on choices. In a new paper, we looked at whether people are able to successfully filter out relevant information in an experience-based learning task, and we found that sometimes they cannot do that effectively. Out now in Judgment and Decision Making: http://journal.sjdm.org/21/210616/jdm210616.pdf (open access).
August 20, 2021 How exactly do contextual features affect human decisions? Things are complicated and many findings contradict each other. Our proposal for a solution out now in Trends in Cognitive Sciences. A summary: https://twitter.com/Mikhail_Spektor/status/1429813685342642181
January 30, 2021 How do individuals make decisions from experience when reckless behaviors are taxed? Reckless behaviors, such as texting while driving, are in most cases harmless but sometimes lead to catastrophic outcomes. We show that myopic individuals who disregard catastrophic outcomes soon after they have been experienced are particularly affected by over-taxation. A policy targeted at these individuals — for example, by using boosts — could be effective over and beyond omnibus taxation interventions. Out now in Judgment and Decision Making: https://sjdm.org/journal/20/200526a/jdm200526a.pdf (open access).
September 28, 2020 Our paper that compares single- and dual-process evidence accumulation models of memory-based decisions out now in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-020-01794-9 (open access). Also, check out the summary of the paper as a Twitter thread and conference talk.
September 23, 2020 New preprint (together with David Kellen and Karl Christoph Klauer) about the project I'll present at the ViProc available on PsyArXiv: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/hmzsx
September 22, 2020 I will present my recent work about the repulsion effect in preferential and perceptual choice at the Virtual Process Tracing (ViProc) Conference 2020. Also, I will try to update the news section of this website more often.
April 16, 2020 Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 5th EADM summer school has been postponed to next year. More information: ldmss.org
January 31, 2020 Save the date for the 5th EADM summer school on the topic of learning and decision making! More information on our website: ldmss.org
July 04, 2019 I will present my recent work with the short title "Violations of economic rationality in reinforcement learning are driven by a saliency-dependent reward-prediction-error signal in the ventral striatum" at the Neuroeconomics in Dublin.
May 13, 2019 New website, still very much under construction.
January 10, 2019 I will be joining the Universitat Pompeu Fabra as an assistant professor in September 2019.


Humans face many different kinds of decisions in their everyday lives, such as what to eat for lunch or where to go on vacation. Attempts to understand the principles underlying such decisions traditionally involve an axiomatic system of preferences and are often used as the benchmark for economically "rational" human behavior. I am particularly interested in behavior that deviates from such notions of rationality as I believe that those situations provide an important window to human cognition.

In my main line of research, I investigate the cognitive processes underlying such "irrational behavior" with a particular focus on the role of attention in the formation of context-dependent preferences, so-called context effects. I rely on formal modeling of cognition and combine it with evidence from behavioral experiments and psychophysiological data to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the cognitive processes underlying human decision making.

Research interests

Decisions under risk and uncertainty

Learning and decision making

Context-dependent preferences

Cognitive modeling

Publications (* = equal contribution)

Olschewski, S.*, Spektor, M. S.*, & Le Mens, G. (2024). Frequent winners explain apparent skewness preferences in experience-based decisions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 121, e2317751121, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2317751121

Spektor, M. S.*, Kellen, D.*, Rieskamp, J., & Klauer, K. C. (2024). Absolute and relative stability of loss aversion across contexts. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 153(2), 454-472, https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0001513

Spektor, M. S., Kellen, D., & Klauer, K. C. (2022). The repulsion effect in preferential choice and its relation to perceptual choice. Cognition, 225, 105164, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2022.105164

Spektor, M. S., & Seidler, H. (2022). Violations of economic rationality due to irrelevant information during learning in decision from experience. Judgment and Decision Making, 17(2), 425–448. http://journal.sjdm.org/21/210616/jdm210616.pdf

Spektor, M. S., Bhatia, S., & Gluth, S. (2021). The elusiveness of context effects in decision making. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 25(10), 844–857. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2021.07.011.

Voormann, A., Spektor, M. S., & Klauer, K. C. (2021). The simultaneous recognition of multiple words: A process analysis. Memory & Cognition, 49(4), 787–802. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-020-01082-w.

Spektor, M. S., & Wulff, D. U. (2021). Myopia drives reckless behavior in response to over-taxation. Judgment and Decision Making, 16(1), 114–130. https://sjdm.org/journal/20/200526a/jdm200526a.pdf

Kraemer, P., Fontanesi, L., Spektor, M. S., & Gluth, S. (2020). Response time models separate single- and dual-process accounts of memory-based decisions. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 28(1), 304–323. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-020-01794-9

Fontanesi, L., Gluth, S., Spektor, M. S., & Rieskamp, J. (2019). A reinforcement learning diffusion decision model for value-based decisions. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 26(4), 1099–1121. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-018-1554-2

Spektor, M. S., Gluth, S., Fontanesi, L., & Rieskamp, J. (2019). How similarity between choice options affects decisions from experience: The accentuation of differences model. Psychological Review, 126(1), 52–88. https://doi.org/10.1037/rev0000122

Gluth, S.*, Spektor, M. S.*, & Rieskamp, J. (2018). Value-based attentional capture affects multi-alternative decision making. eLife, 7, 1–36. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.39659

Spektor, M. S., Kellen, D., & Hotaling, J. M. (2018). When the good looks bad: An experimental exploration of the repulsion effect. Psychological Science, 29(8), 1309–1320. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797618779041

Spektor, M. S., & Kellen, D. (2018). The relative merit of empirical priors in non-identifiable and sloppy models: Applications to models of learning and decision-making. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25(6), 2047–2068. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-018-1446-5.

Other publications

Spektor, M. S., & Yuan, T. (2020). Digitalisierung in der Juristenausbildung. Neue Juristische Wochenschrift, 15, 52–88.


As a behavioral scientist, I am fascinated by all the different facets and the complexity of human cognition. Every new discovery not only uncovers part of that complex puzzle but also reveals more uncharted waters ahead of us. I believe that this curiosity of wanting to obtain a deeper understanding of the human nature is the main driving force behind both good research and learning success.

Thesis supervision

I offer supervision of theses. If you are interested in working on any of my research topics, feel free to contact me.

Current courses

I am currently teaching two undergraduate classes: "Fundamentals of Judgment and Decision Making" (together with Joyce Zhao) and "Negotiation and Influence" (together with Thomas Hills).


Mikhail Spektor
Department of Psychology
University of Warwick
University Road
Coventry CV4 7AL
Phone: +44 (024) 765 28588
Email: mikhail.spektor@warwick.ac.uk