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Research at Constructor University: Predicting decisions with mathematical models

Psychologist Adele Diederich and Mathematician Keivan Mallahi-Karai develop models which help us predict decisions. (Source: Constructor University)

January 24, 2023

Scientists assume that we make up to 20,000 decisions per day. But how do they come about and can they be predicted with the help of mathematical models? This is the goal of a joint research project by psychologist Professor Adele Diederich and mathematician Dr. Keivan Mallahi-Karai at Constructor University in Bremen. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with a total of around 340,000 euros.

"The Cube and Disk Model for Best-Worst Paradigm and Status-quo Options" is the full title of the research project conducted at Constructor University in Bremen. The best-worst paradigm describes a method for measuring preferences when more than two choice options are available: Which cell phone is liked best and which one least (worst)? The status quo also describes a situation where a person has the choice between multiple options (e.g. new cell phones), but eventually decides to keep the their old one. The process from presenting the choice alternatives until a choice is made is modeled by stochastic processes in higher dimensions. They account for the fluctuation of preferences over time.

Even though, the Cube and Disk models are similar, the disk model is mathematically easier to handle. Take, for instance, a choice situation with three alternatives: In this case the cube model resembles a dice, assuming two sides are associated with each alternative, one being the so-called acceptance side (best) and the other the rejection side (worst). For the disk model, the acceptance and rejection areas are arranged on a unit circle.

Both models predict the probabilities for choosing each alternative as well as the timeframe for making the choices. These approaches are geometric models of higher dimension and belong to basic research on decision making. They find application in product research or marketing.

Questions answered by:
Prof. Dr. Adele Diederich | Professor of Psychology
Email: adiederich [at] | Tel: +49 421 200-3431

Dr. Keivan Mallahi-Karai | Lecturer for Mathematics
Email: kmallahikarai [at] | Tel: +49 421 200-3513


About Constructor University:
An international community, vibrant and diverse. Offering academic excellence, ensuring the highest standards in research and teaching. Empowering students to solve the world's pressing challenges through knowledge and science: Constructor University is a top-ranked, English-speaking, private university. Founded in 2001, it provides a wide range of 25+ academic programs and PhD. The Constructor ecosystem comprises the University, located in Bremen, Germany, and an institute in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
Over 1.800 students from more than 110 nations on campus benefit from a unique interdisciplinary, foundational theoretical and practical education. Enriched with a buzzing entrepreneurial culture that prepares young professionals to thrive in the job market. With 6.000+ alumni worldwide, our community keeps growing – with our highest cohort ever registered in 2022.
The research-centric faculty projects are funded by the German Research Foundation and the European Union's Framework Program for Research and Innovation as well as by globally leading companies.
The Constructor ecosystem benefits from partnerships with high-ranked universities such as Carnegie Mellon, the University of Geneva or the National University of Singapore School of Computing, and technology companies such as Anisoprint, JetBrains and ChemDiv.

Constructor is a global institution dedicated to addressing the main challenges of the world through science, education, and technology. Apart from the University, the ecosystem relies on several for-profit entities that provide technology infrastructures and solutions, life-long education programs, consulting services, and funding: Alemira by Constructor, Rolos by Constructor, Constructor Learning and Constructor Capital.

Maike Lempka | Corporate Communications
presse [at] | Tel.: +49 421 200-4504