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Yonatan Vanunu

Yonatan Vanunu



PhD, Cognitive Psychology, UNSW Sydney (magna cum laude)
MS, Cognitive Psychology, Tel Aviv University (magna cum laude)
BS, Behavioral Science, The Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo


Yonatan is a Principal Researcher, working with Abigail Sussman, Daniel Bartels and Oleg Urminsky in the marketing department of Chicago Booth. In his Ph.D dissertation, supervised by prof. Ben R. Newell, Yonatan investigated the underlying mechanism of risky choice under cognitive load. He continued to develop computational models for choice as a postdoctoral fellow at the Aging and Cognition lab at Ohio State University, supervised by prof. Roger Ratcliff.

Research Interest

Yonatan’s research focuses on how people make decisions under limited capacity. He examines the underlying mechanism of preferential and perceptual decisions when it is presumably difficult to encode and process all given information, and the biases in choice that might arise in response. His theory is based on the common assumption that people are adaptive in nature and therefore are likely to employ a selective mechanism, in which attention is used to prioritize part of the information with respect to the decision maker’s goals and available resources. To test the role of attention in encoding, processing, and choice, he uses statistical and computational models to analyze behavioral measures, such as participants’ choices, response time and eye-movements. 

Selected Publications & Presentations

Vanunu, Yonatan, Jared M. Hotaling, Mike E. Le Pelley, and Ben R. Newell. 2021. “How Top-down and Bottom-up Attention Modulate Risky Choice.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118 (39). https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2025646118.

Vanunu, Yonatan, Jared M. Hotaling, and Ben R. Newell. 2020. “Elucidating the Differential Impact of Extreme-Outcomes in Perceptual and Preferential Choice.” Cognitive Psychology 119 (June): 101274. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogpsych.2020.101274.

Vanunu, Yonatan, Thorsten Pachur, and Marius Usher, M. 2019. "Constructing preference from sequential samples: The impact of evaluation format on risk attitudes." Decision, 6(3), 223–236. https://doi.org/10.1037/dec0000098