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Indiana University Bloomington

Peter Todd

Dr. Peter Todd



pmtodd [at] | personal website

office: PY 369 | (812)855-3914

lab: Adaptive Behavior and Cognition Lab
   HK 330 | (812)856-0715

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Psychology, Stanford University, 1992
  • MA, Psychology, UC San Diego, 1987
  • MPhil, Computer Speech and Language Processing, Cambridge University, 1986
  • BA, Mathematics, Oberlin College, 1985

Areas of Study

  • Cognitive Science
  • Social Psychology

Research Topics

  • Simple heuristics for decision making, and how they capitalize on the structure of information in environments
  • Evolution of behavior (experimental approaches to evolutionary psychology and computer simulations of simple organisms adapting to different environmental structures, both physical and social)
  • Emergence of environment structure through interactions of populations of agents following simple behavioral rules
  • How people and other animals search for resources in time and space, from sequential search for mates or jobs to foraging for prey or parking spaces
  • Artificial life approaches to music
  • Making decisions about food and eating, and cognition of consumption

Research Summary:

My research interests cover the simple cognitive mechanisms that exploit information structures in the environment to generate adaptive behavior, how such mechanisms evolve, and the ways in which evolution, cognition, and other adaptive processes (including learning and culture) can interact with each other. Research projects currently underway include studies of sequential choice (including the search for jobs, mates, or parking spaces), simple heuristics for decision making and how they can be learned, the benefits of cognitive limits, heuristics for food choice, judging animate intentions from motion trajectories (by children and adults), evolution of rhythmic and other musical behavior, and the evolution of learning. I explore questions in these areas primarily by modeling empirical results with individual-based simulations of adaptive agents behaving in structured environments (whose structure in turn can be affected by the agents' own behavior).

Representative Publications

Click here for a full, searchable list of Peter Todd's publications.

Lenton, A.P., Fasolo, B., and Todd, P.M. (2009). The relationship between number of potential mates and mating skew in humans. Animal Behaviour, 77(1), 55-60.

Scheibehenne, B., Greifeneder, R., and Todd, P.M. (2009). What moderates the too-much-choice effect? Psychology & Marketing, 26(3), 229-253.

Wilke, A., Todd, P.M., and Hutchinson, J.M.C. (2009). Fishing for the right words: Decision rules for human foraging behavior in external and internal search tasks. Cognitive Science, 33, 497-529.

Place, S.S., Todd, P.M., Penke, L., and Asendorpf, J.B. (2009). The ability to judge the romantic interest of others. Psychological Science, 20(1), 22-26.

Hills, T.T., Todd, P.M., and Goldstone, R.L. (2008). Search in external and internal spaces: Evidence for generalized cognitive search processes. Psychological Science, 19(8), 802-808.

Scheibehenne, B., Miesler, L., and Todd, P.M. (2007). Fast and frugal food choices: Uncovering individual decision heuristics. Appetite, 49, 578-589.

Todd, P.M., Penke, L., Fasolo, B., and Lenton, A.P. (2007). Different cognitive processes underlie human mate choices and mate preferences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(38), 15011-15016.

Todd, P.M., and Gigerenzer, G. (2007). Environments that make us smart: Ecological rationality. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16(3), 167-171.

Todd, P.M. (2007). How much information do we need? European Journal of Operational Research, 177(3), 1317-1332.

Todd, P.M., Billari, F.C., and Simão, J. (2005). Aggregate age-at-marriage patterns from individual mate-search heuristics. Demography, 42(3), 559-574.

Hertwig, R., and Todd, P.M. (2003). More is not always better: The benefits of cognitive limits. In D. Hardman and L. Macchi (Eds.), Thinking: Psychological perspectives on reasoning, judgment and decision making (pp. 213-231). Chichester, UK: Wiley.

Noble, J., and Todd, P.M., Tuci, E. (2001). Explaining social learning of food preferences without aversions: An evolutionary simulation model of Norway rats. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 268(1463), 141-149.

Gigerenzer, G., Todd, P.M., and the ABC Research Group (1999). Simple heuristics that make us smart. New York: Oxford University Press.

Miller, G. F., & Todd, P. M. (1998). Mate choice turns cognitive.Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2, 190-198.

Todd, P.M., and Loy, D.G. (Eds.) (1991). Music and connectionism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Our (Gigerenzer, G., Todd, P.M., and the ABC Research Group) book on fast and frugal decision making, Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart, is available in paperback. You can see a short description of the book along with back-cover blurbs, the table of contents, and a long precis for Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS). Our next book, focusing on ecological rationality, is currently underway.