Peter Todd

Peter Todd

Professor, Cognitive Science

Director, Cognitive Science Program

Professor, Informatics and Computing

Provost Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences


  • 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

Research interests

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

Representative publications

Simple heuristics that make us smart (1999)
Gerd Gigerenzer, Peter M Todd and ABC Research Group
Oxford University Press, USA.

Designing neural networks using genetic algorithms (1989)
Geoffrey F Miller, Peter M Todd and Shailesh U Hegde
Proceedings of the third international conference on Genetic algorithms, 379-384

Fast and frugal heuristics: The adaptive toolbox (1999)
Gerd Gigerenzer and Peter M Todd
Oxford University Press. 3-34

Précis of Simple heuristics that make us smart (2000)
Peter M Todd and Gerd Gigerenzer
Behavioral and brain sciences, 23 (5), 727-741

Can there ever be too many options? A meta-analytic review of choice overload (2010)
Benjamin Scheibehenne, Rainer Greifeneder and Peter M Todd
Journal of consumer research, 37 (3), 409-425

Ecological rationality: Intelligence in the world (2012)
Peter M Todd, Gerd Gigerenzer and the ABC Research Group
Oxford University Press USA.

Bounding rationality to the world (2003)
Peter M Todd and Gerd Gigerenzer
Journal of Economic Psychology, 24 (2), 143-165

Mate choice turns cognitive (1998)
Geoffrey F Miller and Peter M Todd
Trends in cognitive sciences, 2 (5), 190-198

Different cognitive processes underlie human mate choices and mate preferences (2007)
Peter M Todd, Lars Penke, Barbara Fasolo and Alison P Lenton
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104 (38), 15011-15016

Environments That Make Us Smart: Ecological Rationality (2007)
Peter M Todd and Gerd Gigerenzer
Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16 (3), 167-171

Fast and frugal heuristics for environmentally bounded minds (2001)
Peter M Todd
Bounded rationality: The adaptive toolbox, 51-70

Evolution and cognition (1999)
GERD Gigerenzer, PM Todd and ABC Research Group
Simple heuristics that make us smart. New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.

A connectionist approach to algorithmic composition (1989)
Peter M Todd
Computer Music Journal, 13 (4), 27-43

Accurate judgments of intention from motion cues alone: A cross-cultural study (2005)
H Clark Barrett, Peter M Todd, Geoffrey F Miller and Philip W Blythe
Evolution and Human Behavior, 26 (4), 313-331

From Pride and Prejudice to Persuasion: Satisficing in Mate Search (1999)
Geoffrey F. Miller and Peter M. Todd
Simple heuristics that make us smart, 287-308

Dissertation Committee Service

Author Dissertation Title Committee
Bergert, Franklin Bryan Using Response Time to Distinguish Between Lexicographic and Linear Models of Decision Making (January 2008) Nosofsky, R. (Chair), Kruschke, J., Todd, P., Townsend, J.
Chadderdon III, George L A Neurocomputational Model of the Functional Role of Dopamine in Stimulus Response Task Learning And Performance (March 2009) Sporns, O. (Chair), Brown, J., Townsend, J., Todd, P.
Denton, Stephen Exploring Active Learning in a Bayesian Framework (September 2009) Kruschke, J. (Co-Chair), Busemeyer, J. (Co-Chair), Jones, M., Todd, P.
Frey, Seth Complex Collective Dynamics in Human Higher-Level Reasoning. A Study Over Multiple Methods (August 2013) Goldstone, R. (Chair), Todd, P., Beer, R., Busemeyer, J.
Hotaling, Jared Decision field theory-planning: A cognitive model of planning and dynamic (November 2013) Busemeyer, J. (Chair), Shiffrin, R., Todd, P., Nosofsky, R.
Hullinger, Richard An Evolutionary Analysis of Selective Attention (August 2011) Kruschke, J. (Co-Chair), Sporns, O., Todd, P. (Co-Chair), Yaeger, L.
Jessup, Ryan Neural Correlates of the Behavioral Differences Between Descriptive and Experiential Choice: An Examination Combining Computational Modeling with FMRI (September 2008) Busemeyer, J. (Chair), Brown, J., Sporns, O., Todd, P.
Johns, Brendan Language in Memory: Modeling the Influence of Linguistic Structure on Processing (August 2012) Jones, M. (Chair), Todd, P., Shiffrin, R., Yu, C.
Place, Skyler Non-Independent Mate Choice in Humans: Deciphering And Utilizing Information in a Social Environment (July 2010) Todd, P. (Co-Chair), Goldstone, R. (Co-Chair), Smith, E., Wasserman, S., West, M.
Recchia, Gabriel Investigating the Semantics of Abstract Concepts: Evidence From a Property Generation Game (December 2012) Jones, M. (Chair), Goldstone, R., Kubler, S., Todd, P.
Roberts, Michael Human Collective Behavior: Complex systems properties of self-organizations, coordination, and emergent. (July 2008) Goldstone, R. (Co-Chair), Ostrom, E. (Co-Chair), Smith, E., Todd, P.
Tamara, Carolina Route Learning And Its Interaction With Visual Landmarks (May 2013) Timberlake, W. (chair), Crystal, J., Goldstone, R., Todd, P.
Weidemann, Christophe Identifying brief stimuli: Perceptual, preferential, and decisional aspects (August 2006) Shiffrin, R. (Chair), Gold, J., Goldstone, R., Todd, P.