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11-18-2009

Clarkson University Psychology Prof Honored for Research on Hot Hand Phenomenon

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/wilke.jpg ]

Andreas Wilke, assistant professor of psychology at Clarkson University, was recently named the winner of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society’s Post-Doctoral Competition for his paper, titled "The hot hand phenomenon as a cognitive adaptation to clumped resources."Andres Wilke

The "hot hand phenomenon" refers to the expectation of ’streaks’ in sequences of hits and misses whose probabilities are, in fact, independent -- such as coin tosses or basketball shots.

Looking at the phenomenon, Wilke proposed that it reflects an evolved human psychological assumption that items in the world come in clumps, and that a "hot hand," not randomness, is our evolved psychological default.

In researching and writing the paper, Wilke teamed up with several professors from across the nation, including Clark Barrett from UCLA’s anthropology department, Peter Todd from Indiana University’s cognitive science department, and Rui Mata of Stanford University’s psychology department.

Wilke’s general research at Clarkson revolves around human foraging cognition, but crosses into many disciplines. "We bring in work from biological anthropology, behavioral ecology and computer science to study how the mind searches for resources and information," he says.

Wilke joined the teaching staff at Clarkson this fall. Before that, he was a predoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

His postdoctoral training included posts at the Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Altenberg, Austria. Most recently, he has been both research scientist and instructor at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University.

Next up for Wilke will be expanding his research on the hot hand phenomenon and incorporating the assistance of Clarkson undergraduate students. They conduct research on campus, as well as at Stanford University.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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