Hello and welcome to my website!

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

I hold a PhD in Psychology from the University of Basel and I'm currently Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics and Business at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Affiliated Professor at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

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


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)

Kraemer, P., Fontanesi, L., Spektor, M. S., & Gluth, S. (in press). Response time models separate single- and dual-process accounts of memory-based decisions. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Preprint available on PsyArXiv: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/4pqyx

Voormann, A., Spektor, M. S., & Klauer, K. C. (in press). The simultaneous recognition of multiple words: A process analysis. Memory & Cognition.

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. (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. Open-access full text: http://rdcu.be/J18i

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

Manuscripts in preparation or submitted for publication

Spektor, M. S., Kellen, D., & Klauer, K. C. (submitted). The repulsion effect in preferential choice and its relation to perceptual choice. Preprint available on PsyArXiv: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/hmzsx

Spektor, M. S., & Wulff, D. U. (submitted). Myopia drives reckless behavior in the face of over-taxation. Preprint available on PsyArXiv: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/34gzp

Spektor, M. S., & Seidler, H. (submitted). Irrelevant outcomes lead to violations of economic rationality.

Spektor, M. S.*, Gluth, S.*, & Rieskamp, J. (in preparation). Saliency distorts reward processing during reinforcement learning.

Spektor, M. S., & Wulff, D. U. (in preparation). Strategic search in decisions from experience.

Kellen, D.*, Spektor, M. S.*, Rieskamp, J., & Klauer, K. C. (in preparation). Context dependency of loss aversion.

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 "Behavioural Decision Making I: Attention, Experience and Influence" (winter term; click here for the syllabus) and "Microeconomics II" (spring term; click here for the syllabus).


Mikhail Spektor
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Department of Economics and Business
Office in Jaume I building, 20.1E38
Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
08005 Barcelona
Phone: +34 935 42 2741
Email: mikhail.spektor@upf.edu