Mission of the Laboratory

Faculty Director: Kathleen Galotti

Research in this laboratory centers around the issue of personally important and relevant reasoning and decision-making.  We explore how people set goals, gather information, think about their options, create criteria to decide among options, prioritize those criteria, and weigh their options.  We also examine individual differences in reasoning and decision-making — whether people have stylistic differences in their approach to reasoning and decision-making.

A second focus for us is the development of higher-order cognitive skills in children and adolescents.

Research Projects

Current and Recent Projects

Children’s Expertise: The Harry Potter Study

In this study, we aim to investigate the differences between knowledge structures and representations in children who are either experts or novices in a particular domain. Past research (Chi & Koeske, 1983; Gobbo & Chi, 1986) has investigated differences in knowledge structures, organization, and presentation in expert and novice children using case study approaches. These studies have demonstrated important differences between expert and novice children, and so in this proposed study, we seek to generalize past results to larger populations of children and to other domains of knowledge.  

This study will use the domain of knowledge of the first book in the Harry Potter series. This will afford comparison of the above findings with a larger group of students, an older group of students, and a new domain of expertise. A group of Carleton students has been working with me during the past spring, summer, and fall term to prepare and pilot materials , and another group will assist in data collection in the spring. This summer, we will enter, clean, and analyze the data.

Current Research Collaborators:  Katie Hauge ’19, Chris Leppink-Shands ’19, Valerie Umscheid ’19, Zoe Harris ’19, Marshall Ma ’19, Lena White ’19, Tyler Chang ’20, Ana Knighten ’20, Alina Maki ’20, Jed Villaneuva ’22, Jeanny Zhang ‘22

Students Choosing Courses:  Real-Life Academic Decision Making 

We examined how high school and college students make an important real-life decision:  choosing the courses the will take in the upcoming academic year. Current high school and college students completed an online survey.  Each participant listed their course choices and the criteria they used to make their decision (e.g., time a course meets; subject matter of a course), and also responded to a modified version of the Reactions to Decision (RTD) Instrument (Galotti, Tandler & Weiner, 2014) that measured their affective reactions to the decision-making process. College students tended to list more options and criteria when describing their decision than did high school students. High school students rated the future importance of their decision higher and their independence in the decision-making process lower than did college students.  College students reported using information specific to courses, such as instructor, time a class is scheduled, and the requirements a course met more so than did high school students as criteria when choosing courses. High school and college students who listed more criteria tended to be less certain and comfortable with the decision-making process than their peers.

Publication:  Galotti, Kathleen M.  & Umsheid, Valerie A. ‘19  Students choosing courses:  Real-life academic decision making. (2019).    American Journal of Psychology, 132, 149-159.

Conference Presentation: Galotti, Kathleen M.  & Umsheid, Valerie A. ’19 Students choosing courses:  Real-life academic decision making.  Psychonomic Society, November 2018.

Ways of Knowing and Appraisal of Intellectual Activities

In three studies we explored implications of individual differences in epistemological approaches to knowledge and learning. We examined the relationship between “separate” and “connected” ways of knowing and assessments of how enjoyable and how important different intellectual activities are.  In Study 1, undergraduates (n = 108) completed the Attitudes Toward Learning and Thinking Survey (ATTLS) and a new instrument, the Intellectual Activities Ratings (IAR) survey, listing 12 intellectual activities, including both academic tasks, such as “writing a proof of a theorem” and non-academic tasks, such as “keeping a personal journal.”    

Study 2 was conducted online with a larger sample (n = 200) of undergraduates from across the United States, with the same 12 IAR tasks but expanding the number of ratings of each scale.  Study 3 also was conducted online, again with a sample of 200, correlating ATTLS scores with various ratings of an ongoing actual learning tasks — acquiring knowledge of different aspects of a new online game, Pokémon Go.  

Our results replicated previous findings of gender differences in separate knowing (SK) and connected knowing (CK) scores in all three studies.  SK and CK scores strongly correlated with individuals’ enjoyment ratings of different academic and extracurricular tasks, and of different aspects of learning the online game.  Moreover, SK and CK scores correlated with how important student perceived different intellectual tasks to be in their own self-definition. 

Publication: Galotti, Kathleen M., Schneekloth, Michael J. ’17, Smith, Anna P. ’17, Bou Mansour, Carl ‘15, & Nixon, Andrea Lisa (2018). Ways of Knowing and Appraisal of Intellectual Activities.  American Journal of Psychology131, 53-63.

Conference Presentations:  Galotti, Kathleen M., Schneekloth, Michael J. ‘17, Smith, Anna P.’17, Bou Mansour, Carl ;15, & Nixon, Andrea L.  (2017).  Pokéballsand Gym Brawls:  Ways of Knowing and Learning Pokémon Go.  Psychonomic Society, November 2017.  

Galotti, Kathleen M.  (2016).  Do Ways of Knowing Predict Aspects of Identity? Psychonomic Society, November 2016

Galotti, Kathleen M., Schneekloth, Michael ‘17, Smith, Anna ‘17, Wheatman, Michael ‘15, & Bou Mansour, Carl ‘15.   (2015).  Liking, Defining and Thinking:  Oh My!  Ways of Knowing and Appraisals of Intellectual Activities.  Psychonomic Society, November 2015

Consistency in Academic Decision Making

A longitudinal study of college students’ decision-making processes across academic, career, and social domains. This study, conducted in fall 2009 through fall 2012, examined two cohorts of first-year college students over the course of their first year and a half. Our focus was on how consistent students are in their decision-making processes across multiple decisions in three domains and across time, and whether individual differences impact the decision-making process. 

Publications: Galotti, Kathleen M., Clare, Lacey R ‘09., McManus, Courtney, and Nixon, Andrea. (2016).  The Academic Experiences Survey:  Measuring Perceptions of Academic Climate in Liberal Arts Institutions. Journal on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 16, 32-48.

Galotti, Kathleen M., & Clare, Lacey R.’09 (2014).  Goals, Styles, and Decisions:  Changes and Interactions During the First Year of College.  American Journal of Psychology, 127, 383-396.

Galotti, Kathleen M., Wiener, Hillary J. D.’11, & Tandler, Jane. M.’12  Real-Life Decision Making in College Students I :Consistency Across Specific Decisions   (2014). American Journal of Psychology, 127, 19-31.

Galotti, Kathleen M., Tandler, Jane M.’12, & Wiener, Hillary J. D.’11  Real-Life Decision Making in College Students II:  Do Individual Differences Show Reliable Effects? (2014). American Journal of Psychology, 127, 33-42.

Conference Presentations:  

Galotti, Kathleen M.   What Difference Does a Year Make?  Longitudinal Stability of Various Stylistic Individual Differences Measures. Association for Psychological Science, May, 2014.

Galotti, Kathleen M.   Missions and Goals and Decision,:  Oh My!   How Much do Overarching Goals Frame Decisions for Young Adults?   Association for Psychological Science, May, 2013.

Galotti, Kathleen M.   Predictors and Correlates of Undergraduate STEM Enrollment.  Psychonomic Society,November 2012.

Galotti, Kathleen M. Consistency in College Students’ Real-Life Decision Making.  Budapest Semester in Cognitive Science Lecture at Eötvös University, Budapest, Hungary, November 2012.

Galotti, Kathleen M., Tandler, Jane M.’12, and Wiener, Hillary J. D. ‘11  Consistency Across Different Real-Life Important Decisions.  Psychonomic Society,November 2011.

Galotti, Kathleen M., Wiener, Hillary J. D. ‘11, & Dorman, Lacey R. ‘09  Do people with different decision-making styles approach decisions differently? Association for Psychological Science, May, 2011.

Galotti, Kathleen M.  Older adolescents with different decision-making styles behave similarly when making different important decisions. Society for Research in Child Development,March-April, 2011.

Galotti, Kathleen M., & Dorman, Lacey R.  ‘09 The Academic Experiences Survey: Assessing the Impact of a Liberal Education.  Psychonomic Society, November 2010.

More information

Learn more about Dr. Kathleen Galotti’s research and published works.