Our research focuses on three basic themes: individual differences, the development of behaviour and collective intelligence.
Our research on individual differences and the development of behaviour centres on three basic questions. How (and why) do individuals differ in their behavioural patterns? How do such differences unfold over ontogeny? And what are the main factors shaping individual behavioural trajectories? In order to gain insights into these fundamental questions, we combine experimental work with a powerful biological model system, the naturally clonal fish Amazon molly (Poecilia formosa), with mathematical modelling and computer simulations.
We have shown, for example, that strong individuality emerges even among genetically identical individuals isolated directly after birth in identical environments. Currently, one focus of our research is to use a high-resolution tracking system to map the exact (i.e. second by second) behavioural-experiential trajectories of genetically identical individuals from day 1 of their life. A second focus of our current research is to develop a general theoretical framework for the development of individual differences.
Our research on collective intelligence aims to understand when and how groups of decision makers can outperform individual decision makers. In order to do so, we employ mathematical models and computer simulations with laboratory experiments with humans. Part of this research aims to transform the insights gained in our basic research to improve performance in high-stake real-world decision making problems like, for example, medical diagnostics.