Göttinger Graduiertenschule für Neurowissenschaften, Biophysik und Molekulare Biowissenschaften

Waldmann, Michael, Prof. Dr.


  • 1981 Diploma in psychology from the University of Munich
  • 1982-87 Graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research, Munich
  • 1988 Ph.D. at the University of Munich
  • 1987-94 Teaching and research positions at the Universities for Frankfurt and Tübingen
  • 1988-90 Postdoctoral research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLS)
  • 1995 Habilitation at the University of Tübingen
  • 1994-98 Senior research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research (Area: "Behavioral and cognitive development")
  • 1996 Early career research award from the German Society for Psychology ("Charlotte- und Karl-Bühler-Preis")
  • 1998 Professor of Psychology (C3) at the University of Göttingen
  • since 2003 Visiting Scholar at the Department of Psychology, UCLA (several extended stays), and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
  • since 2005 Professor of Psychology (W3) at the University of Göttingen
  • 2002-2010 Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Göttingen
  • since 2008 Principal Investigator of the Courant Center "Evolution of Social Behavior", University of Göttingen
  • 2010 Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science
  • 2010 Co-Initiator of the DFG-Priority Program "New frameworks of rationality" (SPP 1516)
  • 2011/2012 Fellow of the Research Group "The Cultural Constitution of Causal Cognition", Center for Indisciplinary Research (ZIF), Bielefeld University




Major Research Interests

The focus of our research is on higher-level cognitive processes including learning, reasoning, categorization, judgment and decision making. Currently we study how causal and moral knowledge is acquired, represented, and used. Methodologically we combine computational modeling with behavioral experimentation to gain insights into the cognitive processes underlying these key competencies. I am also interested in the neural basis of causal and moral reasoning, and in cognitive behavioral research comparing humans with other species.


Homepage Department/Research Group

www.psych.uni-goettingen.de/waldmann



Selected Recent Publications


  • Waldmann, M. R. (in press). Neurath's ship: the constitutive relation between normative and descriptive theories of rationality. Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
  • Waldmann, M. R., Nagel, J., & Wiegmann, A. (in press). Moral judgment. In K. J. Holyoak & R. G. Morrison (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of thinking and reasoning. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Waldmann, M. R., & Hagmayer, Y. (in press). Causal reasoning. In D. Reisberg (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Hagmayer, Y., Meder, B., von Sydow, M., & Waldmann, M. R. (2011). Category transfer in sequential causal learning: the unbroken mechanism hypothesis. Cognitive Science, 35, 842-873.
  • Blaisdell, A. P., & Waldmann, M. R. (in press). Rational rats: Causal inference and representation. In E. Wasserman & T. Zentall (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of comparative cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Fenker, D. B., Schoenfeld, M. A., Waldmann, M. R., Schuetze, H., Heinze, H.-J., & Duezel, E. (2010). 'Virus and epidemic': Causal knowledge activates prediction error circuitry. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 2151-2163.
  • Waldmann, M. R., & Wiegmann, A. (2010). A double causal contrast theory of moral intuitions in trolley dilemmas. In S. Ohlsson & R. Catrambone (Eds.), Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (2589-2594). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
  • Mayrhofer, R., Hagmayer, Y., & Waldmann, M. R. (2010). Agents and Causes: A Bayesian Error Attribution Model of Causal Reasoning. In S. Ohlsson & R. Catrambone (Eds.), Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (925-930). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
  • Nagel, J., & Waldmann, M. R. (2010). Deconfounding distance effects in moral reasoning. In S. Ohlsson & R. Catrambone (Eds.), Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (2595-2600). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
  • Meder, B., Gerstenberg, T., Hagmayer, Y., & Waldmann, M. R. (2010). Observing and intervening: Rational and heuristic models of causal decision making. The Open Psychology Journal, 3, 119-135.
  • Waldmann, M. R. (2010). Causal thinking. In B. Glatzeder, V. Goel & A. v. Müller (Eds.), Towards a theory of thinking (pp. 123-134). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Verlag.
  • Waldmann, M. R., Meder, B., von Sydow, M., & Hagmayer, Y. (2010). The tight coupling between category and causal learning. Cognitive Processing, 11, 143-158.
  • Meder, B., Mayrhofer, R., & Waldmann, M. R. (2009). A rational model of elemental diagnostic inference. In N. Taatgen, H. van Rijn, L. Schomaker & J. Nerbonne (Eds.), Proceedings of the Thirty-First Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2176-2181). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
  • Blaisdell, A. P., Leising, K. J., Stahlman, W. D., & Waldmann, M. R. (2009). Rats distinguish between absence of events and lack of information in sensory preconditioning. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 22, 1-18.
  • Meder, B., Hagmayer, Y., & Waldmann, M. R. (2009). The role of learning data in causal reasoning about observations and interventions. Memory & Cognition, 37, 249-264.
  • Mayrhofer, R., Goodman, N. D., Waldmann, M. R., & Tenenbaum, J. B. (2008). Structured correlation from the causal background. In Proceedings of the Thirtieth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 303-308).
  • Leising, K. J., Wong, J., Waldmann, M. R., & Blaisdell, A. P. (2008). The special status of actions in causal reasoning in rats. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 127 (3), 514-527.
  • Hagmayer, Y., & Waldmann, M. R. (2008). Zur Rolle kausaler Mechanismen beim Lernen und Denken. In S. Pauen, D. Bailer-Jones & M. Dullstein (Eds.), Mechanismen und kausales Verstehen (S. 41-58). Heidelberg: Mentis.
  • Waldmann, M. R., Cheng, P. W., Hagmayer, Y., & Blaisdell, A. P. (2008). Causal learning in rats and humans: a minimal rational model. In N. Chater, & M. Oaksford (Eds.), The probabilistic mind. Prospects for Bayesian Cognitive Science (pp. 453-484). Oxford: University Press.
  • Meder, B., Hagmayer, Y., & Waldmann, M. R. (2008). Inferring interventional predictions from observational learning data. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 15 (1), 75-80.
  • Waldmann, M. R. (2008). Kategorisierung und Wissenserwerb. In J. Müsseler (Hrsg.), Lehrbuch Allgemeine Psychologie (2. überarbeitete Aufl., S. 377-427). Heidelberg: Spektrum Verlag.
  • Reips, U.-D., & Waldmann, M. R. (2008). When learning order affects sensitivity to base rates: Challenges for theories of causal learning. Experimental Psychology, 55, 9-22.
  • Waldmann, M. R. (2007). Combining versus analyzing multiple causes: How domain assumptions and task context affect integration rules. Cognitive Science, 31, 233-256.
  • Hagmayer, Y., & Waldmann, M. R. (2007). Inferences about unobserved causes in human contingency learning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60 (3), 330-355.
  • Waldmann, M. R., & Dieterich, J. (2007). Throwing a bomb on a person versus throwing a person on a bomb: Intervention myopia in moral intuitions. Psychological Science, 18 (3), 247-253.
  • Hagmayer, Y., Sloman, S. A., Lagnado, D. A., & Waldmann, M. R. (2007). Causal reasoning through intervention. In A. Gopnik & L. Schulz (Eds.), Causal learning: Psychology, philosophy, and computation (pp. 86-100). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Lagnado, D. A., Waldmann, M. R., Hagmayer, Y., & Sloman, S. A. (2007). Beyond covariation: Cues to causal structure. In A. Gopnik & L. Schulz (Eds.), Causal learning: Psychology, philosophy, and computation (pp. 154-172). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Blaisdell, A. P., Sawa, K., Leising, K. J., & Waldmann, M. R. (2006). Causal reasoning in rats. Science, 311, 1020-1022.
  • Waldmann, M. R., Hagmayer, Y, & Blaisdell, A. P. (2006). Beyond the information given: Causal models in learning and reasoning. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15 (6), 307-311.