A 24-Day Smartphone Study on Memory and Causal Reasoning

“Dr. Rottman is always willing to help and provide solutions whenever I run into a problem in lab. He is also willing to clearly explain specific concepts if I am ever unsure.”

Supervising Faculty: Benjamin Rottman

Contact: Ben Rottman, rottman@pitt.edu

Area of Research: Cognitive Psychology

Description of Research: We are conducting a series of studies on how people learn cause-effect relations in everyday life (e.g., does taking a medicine make me feel better, does running improve my mood, etc.). One of the challenges of learning these causal relations in everyday life is that one would have to remember experiences over multiple weeks (e.g., which days did I go running, and how did I feel after running). We will conduct a 24 day smartphone study as well as lab-based studies to track participants’ memories as well as their final decisions. In addition, we are developing interactive tutorials for research methods students to help them understand statistics and science skepticism.

Duties of Students: The activities include some of the following - different students will work on somewhat different tasks: Debugging the smartphone app (no technical experience necessary), recruiting and running participants during the 24-day study, learning some data analysis, designing interactive tutorials for research methods, helping other students learn to do data analysis in R, and other tasks.


  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • 12 credits of Psychology (including current term)
  • STAT 0200/1000/1100 Statistics
  • PSY 0036 Research Methods Lecture
  • PSY 0037 Research Methods Lab

Terms offered: All terms for the foreseeable future.

Number of Students: 2