Mel W. Khaw, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Associate | Center for Cognitive Neuroscience & Duke Institute for Brain Sciences at Duke University

B355, 308 Research Dr., Durham, NC, 27710 USA

I study cognitive processes and computations underlying human judgment and decision-making.
My research focuses on the (mis-)perception of economic and social variables such as financial risk and group diversity.


Research Areas

  • Perception of economic attributes and related decision-making processes

    Estimates and decisions involving probability, risk, time, and prices.

  • Perception of social groups and visual ensembles

    Judgments of actions, emotions, and membership diversity shown by groups.

  • Perceptual mechanisms underlying the efficacy of media norms

    e.g., effects of presentation sequence and personified content.


Peer-reviewed Publications

  • Oversampling of minority categories drives misperceptions of group compositions.

    MW Khaw, RE Kranton, & SA Huettel. Cognition.

    Link [ScienceDirect]
  • Individual differences in the perception of probability

    MW Khaw, L Stevens, & M Woodford. PLOS Computational Biology.

    Link [PLOS]
  • Uncertainty-based overestimation of group actions

    MW Khaw, P Nichols, & D Freedberg. Vision Research.

    Link [ScienceDirect]
  • Cognitive Imprecision and Small-Stakes Risk Aversion

    MW Khaw, Z Li, & M Woodford. The Review of Economic Studies.

    Link [Oxford Academic]
  • Speed of person perception affects immediate and ongoing aesthetic evaluation

    MW Khaw, P Nichols, & D Freedberg. Acta Psychologica.

    Link [ScienceDirect]
  • Temporal discounting and search habits: evidence for a task-dependent relationship

    MW Khaw, Z Li, & M Woodford. Frontiers in Psychology: Decision Neuroscience.

    Link [Frontiers]
  • Continuous aesthetic judgment of image sequences

    MW Khaw & D Freedberg. Acta Psychologica.

    Link [ScienceDirect]
  • Normalized value coding explains dynamic adaptation in the valuation process

    MW Khaw, K Louie, & PW Glimcher. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Link [PNAS]
  • Discrete Adjustment to a Changing Environment: Experimental Evidence

    MW Khaw, L Stevens, & M Woodford. Journal of Monetary Economics.

    Link [ScienceDirect]
  • Forecasting the outcome of a time-varying Bernoulli process: Data from a laboratory experiment

    MW Khaw, L Stevens, & M Woodford. Data in Brief.

    Link [ScienceDirect]
  • Reminders of past choices bias decisions for rewards in humans

    AM Bornstein, MW Khaw, D Shohamy, & ND Daw. Nature Communications.

    Link [Nature]
  • The measurement of subjective value and its relation to contingent valuation and environmental public goods

    MW Khaw, DA Grab, CA Vossler, & PW Glimcher. PLOS One.

    Link [PLOS]
  • A general neural mechanism for context-dependent decision-making

    K Louie, MW Khaw, & PW Glimcher. Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences.

    Link [PNAS]
  • Decoding the role of the insula in human cognition: functional parcellation and large-scale reverse inference

    T Yarkoni, LJ Chang, MW Khaw, & AG Sanfey. Cerebral Cortex.

    Link [Oxford University Press]


Technical Reports

  • Adjustment Dynamics During a Strategic Estimation Task

    MW Khaw, L Stevens, & M Woodford. Society for Economic Dynamics.

    Link [SED 2018]
  • Risk Aversion as a Perceptual Bias/Cognitive Imprecision and Small-Stakes Risk Aversion

    MW Khaw, Z Li, & M Woodford. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

    Also circulated as CEPR Discussion Paper no. 11929, and CESifo WP no. 6416.

    Link [SSRN] || Link [NBER]


In progress

  • Status and identity antecedents of group conflict.

    MW Khaw, RE Kranton, & SA Huettel.

  • Social identity and ensemble perception of emotions.

    MW Khaw, RE Kranton, & SA Huettel.

  • Adjustment Dynamics during a Strategic Estimation Task.

    MW Khaw, L Stevens, & M Woodford.


Media Coverage

  • Heres why snap judgments tend to be wrong


  • Focus on Outliers Creates Flawed Snap Judgments

    Duke Today

  • When a 10% Gain Makes You Feel Like a Loser

    Wall Street Journal

  • How Value of Past Products Influences What Consumers Will Pay

    Insurance Journal

  • How much you would pay for something depends on what prices you have seen recently

    ZME Science

  • How much will we pay for something? Depends on the value of what we've just encountered

    Science Daily

  • Putting a Price Tag on Nature: Contingent Valuation and Other Approaches

    Chicago Policy Review

  • What is Nature Worth to You?

    The New York Times



Online Activities


Teaching Evaluations

  • CNS 150 - Introduction to Neural Science

  • MAP.UA.306 - Brain and Behavior