Falk Lieder


Falk Lieder

Assistant Professor
Ph.D.: University of California, Berkeley
Primary Area: Cognitive Psychology
Address: 7538 Pritzker Hall
Email: falk.lieder@psych.ucla.edu

Research and Teaching Interests:

My mission is to lay the scientific foundations for motivating and enabling people to embark on highly impactful altruistic projects and pursue them effectively. This includes research on understanding and improving goal-setting and decision-making, motivation, values, moral reasoning, wisdom, learning from experience, and rationality. I combine whichever methods are most appropriate to answer the questions I am interested in. The methods I have most experience with are computational and mathematical modeling, large-scale online experiments, and machine learning. However, my team and I also employ traditional psychological methods like questionnaires and experience sampling. We translate the insights of our basic research into (intelligent) digital tools for improving decision-making and fostering the effective pursuit of altruistic goals, and evaluate the resulting interventions in randomized controlled trials. 

I am looking for 1-2 graduate students and postdocs to join my lab in 2023. Potential projects include investigating how people can learn to make important decisions more wisely and developing interventions for motivating people to set goals with a high positive social impact and helping them pursue those goals effectively. If you are interested in joining the lab at some point, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Dr. Lieder’s fascination with psychological science started early. He was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to publish his first scientific article while he was still in high school. To prepare himself for rigorous, quantitative psychological research, he completed two simultaneous bachelor’s degrees in Cognitive Science and in Mathematics/Computer Science at the University of Osnabrück (Germany). Dr. Lieder then obtained his master’s degree in Neural Systems and Computation at ETH Zurich (Switzerland). After working as a research assistant in Klaas Stephan’s Translational Neuromodeling Unit at the University of Zurich, he completed his Ph.D. in Tom Griffiths’s Computational Cognitive Science Lab at UC Berkeley in May 2018. His dissertation was awarded the Glushko Dissertation Prize in Cognitive Science. He then became a Max Planck Research Group Leader at the MPI for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen, Germany, where he led the Rationality Enhancement Group until June 2023. He will move to the psychology department of UCLA in July 2023.

Dr. Lieder has published 43 peer-reviewed articles that have collectively been cited more than 3500 times. He was the lead organizer of the inaugural Life Improvement Science conference. His most influential contribution to cognitive science thus far has been the development of a new cognitive modeling paradigm known as resource-rational analysis (Lieder & Griffiths, 2020). 

Curriculum Vitae

Representative Publications:

  1. Callaway, F., Jain, Y. R., van Opheusden, B., Krueger, P. M., Das, P., Iwama, G., Gul, S., Becker, F., Griffiths, T. L., & Lieder, F. (2022). Leveraging artificial intelligence to improve people’s planning strategies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(12), e2117432119. doi:10.1073/pnas.2117432119
  2. Lieder, F., & Griffiths, T. L. (2020). Resource-rational analysis: Understanding human cognition as the optimal use of limited computational resources. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 43, e1. doi:10.1017/S0140525X1900061X.
  3. Consul, S., Heindrich, L., Stojcheski, J., & Lieder, F. (2022). Improving human decision making by discovering efficient strategies for hierarchical planning. Computational Brain & Behavior, 5(2), 185-216. doi:10.1007/s42113-022-00128-3
  4. Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L., & Hsu, M. (2018). Overrepresentation of extreme events in decision making reflects rational use of cognitive resources. Psychological Review, 125, 1-32. doi:10.1037/rev0000074
  5. Lieder, F., Chen, O., Krueger, P. M., & Griffiths, T.L. (2019). Cognitive prostheses for goal achievement. Nature Human Behavior, 3, 1096–1106. doi:10.1038/s41562-019-0672-9