I am currently a postdoc at the University of Washington. Together with Dr. Kevin King, I study how emotions affect people’s ability to self-regulate their behavior. Mainly, we study the way emotions shape people’s decision to consume (more) alcohol. More generally, I am interested in mechanistic explanations of people’s subjective experience of the world and decision-making.
PhD in Psychology, 2020
MSc in Psychology (cum laude), 2015
BSc in Psychology, 2014
University of Groningen
Most people experience the feeling of mental fatigue on a daily basis. Previous research shows that mental fatigue impacts information processing and decision making. However, the proximal causes of mental fatigue are not yet well understood. In this research, we test the opportunity cost model of mental fatigue, which proposes that people become more fatigued when the next-best alternative to the current task is higher in value. In four preregistered experiments (total N = 430), participants repeatedly reported their current level of fatigue and chose to perform a paid labor task vs an unpaid leisure task. In Study 1, all participants were offered the same labor/leisure choice. In Studies 2 and 3, we manipulated the opportunity costs of a labor task by varying the value of an alternative leisure task. In Study 4, we manipulated the opportunity costs of a labor task by varying the value of that labor task. In all studies, we found that people were more likely to choose for leisure as they became more fatigued. In Studies 2–4, we did not find that the manipulated leisure value influenced the amount of fatigue participants experienced nor the likelihood to choose for leisure. However, in exploratory analyses, in all studies, we found that participants who reported to value the leisure task more, got more fatigued during labor and less fatigued during leisure. Collectively, these results provide cautious support for the opportunity cost model, but they also show that cost-benefit analyses relating to labor and leisure tasks are fleeting.
In this research, we attempt to understand a common real-life labor/leisure decision, ie, to perform cognitive work or to interact with one’s smartphone. In an ecologically valid experiment, participants (N= 112) could freely switch back and forth between a doing a 2-back task and interacting with their own smartphone. We manipulated the value of the 2-back task (by varying the value of monetary rewards; within-subjects) and of the smartphone (by switching on and off airplane mode; within-subjects) while we recorded incoming notifications, such as text messages. Our study produced three main findings: 1) the current value of the smartphone did not increase our statistical model’s ability to predict switches from labor to leisure when the current task value was also taken into account; 2) however, participants reacted strongly to naturally incoming notifications, which were the strongest predictor of labor-to-leisure switches; 3) there was no evidence that taking into account individual differences (in the value assigned to labor and leisure) improved the model’s ability to predict labor-leisure switches. In sum, using a situated approach to studying labor/leisure decisions, our findings highlight the importance of high task motivation, as well as the temporary distractive potential of smartphone notifications, when people face the challenge to stay focused on their productive tasks.
Smartphones have been shown to distract people from their main tasks (e.g., studying, working), but the psychological mechanisms underlying these distractions are not clear yet. In a preregistered experiment (https://osf.io/g8kbu/), we tested whether the distracting nature of smartphones stems from their high associated (social) reward value. Participants (N = 117) performed a visual search task while they were distracted by (a) high social reward apps (e.g., Facebook app icon + notification sign), (b) low social reward apps (e.g., Facebook app icon), and (c) no social reward apps (e.g., Weather app icon). We expected that high social reward app icons would slow down search, especially when people were deprived of their smartphones. Surprisingly, high social reward (vs. low or no social reward) apps did not impair visual search performance, yet in a survey (N = 158) participants indicated to perceive these icons as more rewarding. Our results demonstrate that even if people perceive social smartphone apps as more rewarding than nonsocial apps, this may not manifest in behavior.