Process-Tracing Methods in Decision Making: On Growing Up in the 70s

Michael Schulte-Mecklenbeck*, Joseph G. Johnson, Ulf Böckenholt, Daniel G. Goldstein, J. Edward Russo, Nicolette J. Sullivan, Martijn C. Willemsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Decision research has experienced a shift from simple algebraic theories of choice to an appreciation of mental processes underlying choice. A variety of process-tracing methods has helped researchers test these process explanations. Here, we provide a survey of these methods, including specific examples for subject reports, movement-based measures, peripheral psychophysiology, and neural techniques. We show how these methods can inform phenomena as varied as attention, emotion, strategy use, and understanding neural correlates. Two important future developments are identified: broadening the number of explicit tests of proposed processes through formal modeling and determining standards and best practices for data collection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-450
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • distortion risk
  • eye tracking
  • information boards
  • mouse tracking
  • neural techniques
  • process tracing
  • verbal protocols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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