I am anticipating to hire a lab manager and a postdoc for my new lab at Washington University in St. Louis in the near future. Are you interested in cognitive control, decision making, and learning? Get in touch via wkool@fas.harvard.edu if you want to join my lab.

My research focuses on questions that lie at the intersection of decision making and cognitive control. Most recently, I've become very interested in understanding, at a computational level, how the brain decides which decision-making strategies to employ given their costs, benefits, and their environment. I am also very interested in how such 'metacontrol' decisions affect phenomena in the broader field of psychology. I approach my research from a broad range of perspectives, using tools from experimental psychology, computational modeling, neuroimaging, and behavioral economics.

recent papers

  • Reasoning supports utilitarian resolutions to moral dilemmas across diverse measures

    Patil et al. (submitted).

    Dual-process models of morality claim that those who reason more should make more utilitarian moral judgments. Across 8 studies, we find strong evidence for this claim.

  • The transdiagnostic structure of mental effort avoidance

    Patzelt et al. (2019). Sci Rep.

    Our team has found that people's tendency to avoid mental effort predicts a number of constructs that are common to several forms of psychiatric illness.

  • Mental labour

    Kool & Botvinick (2018). Nat Hum Behav.

    In this paper, we discuss how tools from behavioral economics provide a fruitful ground for understanding how people balance costs and benefits when exerting mental effort.

  • Planning complexity registers as a cost in metacontrol

    Kool, Gershman, & Cushman (2018). J Cogn Neurosci.

    In this series of studies, we demonstrate that our willingness to exert model-based control depends on the amount of mental effort it requires.