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Decision Making: Theory and Practice


Entry requirements

Only open to master’s students in Psychology.


Shall I buy a travel insurance? Shall I organize a barbecue or a party indoor? Is this person guilty? Should I worry about this medical test outcome? And should I stay home after a 'code orange' forecast? We all face a perplexing array of judgments and decisions every day. In this course, we review the main theories in judgment and decision making, and we consider applications in both every day and professional decision problems.

Course objectives

  • Being introduced in the formal and psychological science of judgment and decision making

  • Being introduced in 2 fields of application, among which medical and legal decision making


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable



Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.


You must register for each exam in My Studymap at least 10 days before the exam date. You cannot take an exam without a valid registration in My Studymap. Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.

Mode of instruction

Eight lectures (including guest lectures from experts in applied fields of decision making).

Please note that in 23-24, the timetable is different from previous years and will be as follows:

  • Week 1: lectures 1&2

  • Week 3: lectures 3&4

  • Week 5: lecture 5

  • Week 6: lecture 6

  • Week 7: lecture 7

  • Week 8: lecture 8

Assessment method

The examination consists of two parts:

  • A multiple-choice examination of 30 questions on Newell et al’s book

  • An essay examination (open questions) about papers and content of guest lectures. The two components are tested simultaneously. The final grade is a combination of the multiple-choice examination grade (70%) and the essay examination grade (30%). A higher grade in one component can be used to compensate for a fail in another component.

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. All students are required to take and pass the Scientific Integrity Test with a score of 100% in order to learn about the practice of integrity in scientific writing. Students are given access to the quiz via a module on Brightspace. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading list

  • Newell, Lagnado & Shanks (2015). Straight choices. The psychology of decision making. 2nd Edition. Hove: Psychology Press. Please be aware that a new edition of the book Straight Choices came out recently. We will use the 2nd edition, as indicated

  • Articles related to the topics of the guest lectures. See Brightspace

Contact information

Dr. Fenna Poletiek