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Research Project on the Stop-Signal Paradigm at Jacobs University

She researches the "stop-signal paradigm": Professor of Psychology, Adelde Diederich, from Jacobs University Bremen. (Source: Jacobs University)


October 14, 2021
It's about that moment of hesitation. Do I cross the street or not? Do I eat the piece of chocolate or do I leave it? When can one still stop a self-initiated action? In psychology, this phenomenon is known as the "stop-signal paradigm". Adele Diederich, a psychology professor at Jacobs University Bremen, is investigating this phenomenon using mathematical models as part of a new three-year project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

The suppression of undesirable actions is widespread in everyday life. This response inhibition is also used as a diagnostic tool for obsessive-compulsive disorders, such as eating disorders, fears of heights, or fears of confined spaces. However, the psychologist, Professor Diederich, is not researching new therapeutic approaches; with her specialty in mathematical psychology, she is developing mathematical models for cognitive processes.

This also applies to the new research project in which she is particularly interested in the actual time of hesitation. How long does it take for a person to stop the action that has already been initiated? Since this time is not directly observable and measurable from the outside, the professor needs a mathematical model for the measurement: she uses the copula approach of statistics. "In psychology, modeling is becoming increasingly important. Mathematics is incorruptible; it can make quite precise, verifiable predictions," Diederich explained.

Hardly any scientist at Jacobs University is more successful in attracting third-party DFG funding for research other than Adele Diederich. Her success rate for proposals is nearly 100 percent. She has been conducting basic research at Jacobs University in Bremen since 2002, but her work and findings can also be found in many applications.

In another current project, which is part of a DFG research group, the scientist is addressing the question of justice. According to which criteria are healthcare goods, in particular, distributed? Is it according to performance, need or should everyone enjoy the same access? And what influence does the type of question, the so-called framing, have on the attitude of the respondents? Are people more generous when they have a concrete person in mind or merely an abstract description of a person? Currently, a survey was conducted that also deals with the acceptance of distribution criteria in connection with Corona.
Questions answered:
Adele Diederich
Professor for Psychology
Tel: +49 421 200-3431
Email: a.diederich [at]