University of Pittsburgh

The Psychology of Medical Diagnosis from Previous Personal Experiences and Beliefs

Assistant Professor
Friday, December 6, 2013 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm

I will talk about two studies. The first study investigates how residents' diagnostic judgments are shaped by the frequency of experience with patients of different diagnoses and their own beliefs about the prevalence of each disease. The second study investigates the consistency of doctors' post-test judgments with their own pre-test judgments and beliefs about the sensitivity and specificity of the test.


My primary research focus is causal learning - how people learn cause-effect relationships from their experiences (e.g., this new medicine I have been trying seems to work well). I am especially interested in how people learn causal relations over time such as noticing that a cause has decreasing effectiveness (e.g., caffeine), how people account for changes in the environment when learning about a causal relationship, and how people figure out which of two variables (e.g., being depressed and being anxious) is the cause and which is the effect. My second research focus is on medical decision making - how doctors make diagnosis, testing, and treatment decisions. I am particularly interested in how doctors (and patients) learn from their own experiences and apply that knowledge to future cases. I use a combination of experimental and observational (electronic medical records) techniques.

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