Welcome to Dr. Ivan K. Ash's Research Page
Research Questions, Goals, and Program
"It seems that all cognitive activities are fundamentally problem solving in nature. The basic argument...is that human cognition is always purposeful, directed to achieving goals and to removing obstacles to those goals."
J. R. Anderson (1985, from Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications)
Human beings are a problem-solving animal. The cars we drive, the domesticated food we eat, the buildings we live in, and the computer you are using to view this page are all testaments to the amazing problem solving abilities of our species. However, our amazing ability to solve complex and abstract problems can be contrasted with the observations that our capacity to maintain multiple pieces of information active in memory is extremely limited, our judgments can easily be biased by situational cues, our prior knowledge can lead us to get stuck on simple problems, and we tend to make decisions quickly and based on little information.
This leaves us with two disparate images of the Human Animal. One image is of the problem-solving species that easily learns, quickly adapts, is prone to create new solutions, and overcomes most obstacles.The other image is of the cognitively frugal species that is resistant to change, is easily mislead, relies on old solutions, and often fails to overcome simple obstacles.
This dual image of the Human mind drives my interest in Cognitive Psychology. I am interested in 1) how people mentally represent complex situations, 2) how these representations are stored and accessed in memory, and 3) how these representations are used to solve problems, make decision, and formulate judgments. My research goal is to bring a variety of theoretical perspectives from the different research traditions, such as research in judgment biases, decision-making heuristics, logical reasoning, expertise, cognitive abilities, and implicit/explicit learning, together to explain these disparate aspects of Human Cognition under a common theoretical framework.
To see a listing of some of the current projects going on in my lab, please visit the Human Cognition Lab webpage. You can go to my Publications Page for a listing of my recent and upcoming work on these topics. Feel free to email me to request electronic reprints of any of the papers or with questions about my research. Back to Top.
Graduate Research Opportunities
My research interests overlap greatly with theoretically and pragmatically important issues from a wide range of psychological fields. My interests in situation representation, problem-solving, decision making, and judgment formation have lead me to topics that could be considered to be research in human factors, educational design, social cognition, comprehension, implicit learning, creativity, intelligence, and cognitive modeling. Because the phenomena I am interested in are important in many areas of psychology, I am affiliated with the Human Factors and Applied Experimental Ph.D. programs, and the Experimental Psychology M.S. Program offered by the Psychology Department here at Old Dominion University. I invite any students who are interested in these types of psychological issues and are seriously considering pursuing a graduate degree in Psychology to contact me to discuss the different graduate programs and research opportunities available at here at Old Dominion University. Back to Top.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities
As an undergraduate, I had a great experience working in a Dr. Richard Backs' Psychophysiology Laboratory at Central Michigan University. As a graduate student in Dr. Jennifer Wiley's Eyetracking & Cognition Laboratory at University of Illinois at Chicago, I had the opportunity to supervise and mentor several talented and motivated undergraduate researchers. These experiences have led me to have a great commitment to including undergraduate researchers at every stage of the research process. Through the Supervised Research and Independent Study courses offered by the Psychology Department, you can gain valuable research experience while earning credits that count toward your psychology major and graduation. If you are a undergraduate who wants to get experience with conducting psychological research contact me to set up a meeting time. Back to Top.