Posts By hneth

Paper: Perspectives on the 2×2 Matrix

The 2x2 matrix lens model: Pipeline of perspectives

Hansjörg Neth, Nico Gradwohl, Dirk Streeb, Daniel A. Keim, Wolfgang Gaissmaier

Perspectives on the 2×2 matrix: Solving semantically distinct problems based on a shared structure of binary contingencies


Cognition is both empowered and limited by representations.  The matrix lens model explicates tasks that are based on frequency counts, conditional probabilities, and binary contingencies in a general fashion. Based on a structural analysis of such perspective on representational accounts of cognition that recognizes representational isomorphs as opportunities, rather than as problems. 
The shared structural construct of a 2×2 matrix supports a set of generic tasks and semantic mappings that provide a tasks, the model links several problems and semantic domains and provides a new unifying framework for understanding problems and defining scientific measures.  Our model’s key explanatory mechanism is the adoption of particular perspectives on a 2×2 matrix that categorizes the frequency counts of cases by some condition, treatment, risk, or outcome factor. By the selective steps of filtering, framing, and focusing on specific aspects, the measures used in various semantic domains negotiate distinct trade-offs between abstraction and specialization.  As a consequence, the transparent communication of such measures must explicate the perspectives encapsulated in their derivation. 
To demonstrate the explanatory scope of our model, we use it to clarify theoretical debates on biases and facilitation effects in Bayesian reasoning and to integrate the scientific measures from various semantic domains within a unifying framework.  A better understanding of problem structures, representational transparency, and the role of perspectives in the scientific process yields both theoretical insights and practical applications.

Why read this paper?

This paper is quite long and covers a wide array of concepts and topics.  So what can you expect to gain from reading it?

Paper: The echo in flu-vaccination echo chambers


Helge Giese, Hansjörg Neth, Mehdi Moussaïd, Cornelia Betsch, Wolfgang Gaissmaier

The echo in flu-vaccination echo chambers: Selective attention trumps social influence

Immune to influence


Online discussions may impact the willingness to get vaccinated. This experiment tests how groups of individuals with consistent and inconsistent attitudes towards flu vaccination attend to and convey information online, and how they alter their corresponding risk perceptions.

Out of 1859 MTurkers, we pre-selected 208 people with negative and 221 people with positive attitudes towards flu vaccinations into homogeneous or heterogeneous 3-link experimental diffusion chains. We assessed (i) which information about flu vaccinations participants conveyed to the subsequent link, (ii) how flu-vaccination related perceptions were altered by incoming messages, and (iii) how participants perceived incoming information.

Participants (i) selectively conveyed attitude-consistent information, but exhibited no overall anti-vaccination bias, (ii) were reluctant to alter their flu-vaccination related perceptions in response to messages, and (iii) evaluated incoming information consistent with their prior attitudes as more convincing.

Flu-vaccination related perceptions are resilient against contradictions and bias online communication. Contrary to expectations, there was no sign of amplification of anti-vaccine attitudes by online communication.

Keywords: Amplification of risk; Diffusion chain; Opinion dynamics; Vaccine hesitancy; Social media; Polarization

Press release

Reference:  Giese, H., Neth, H., Moussaïd, M., Betsch, C., & Gaissmaier, W. (2020).  The echo in flu-vaccination echo chambers: Selective attention trumps social influence.  Vaccine, 38 (8), 2070–2076.   doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2019.11.038

Related:  Social influence and collective opinion formation

Resources:  Download_PDFGoogle Scholar

riskyr: A toolbox for rendering risk literacy more transparent

Solving a problem simply means representing it
so as to make the solution transparent.

Simon, H.A. (1996). The Sciences of the Artificial

Hansjörg Neth, Felix Gaisbauer, Nico Gradwohl, Wolfgang Gaissmaier

riskyr: A toolbox for rendering risk literacy more transparent

Abstract:  Risk-related information — like the prevalence of conditions and the sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic tests or treatment decisions — can be expressed in terms of probabilities or frequencies. By providing a toolbox of methods and metrics, the R package riskyr computes, translates, and displays risk-related information in a variety of ways. Offering multiple complementary perspectives on the interplay between key parameters renders teaching and training of risk literacy more transparent.

Paper: FFTrees: An R toolbox to create, visualize, and evaluate FFTs

If a decision tree that measures up very well on the performance criterion
is nevertheless totally incomprehensible to a human expert, can it
be described as knowledge? Under the common-sense definition of this term
as material that might be assimilated and used by human beings, it is not…

J. Ross Quinlan (1987), p. 498





Nathaniel Phillips, Hansjörg Neth, Jan Woike, Wolfgang Gaissmaier

FFTrees: A toolbox to create, visualize, and evaluate fast-and-frugal decision trees

An example of an FFT (created by FFTrees) predicting heard disease.

An example of an FFT predicting the risk of having heart disease.

Abstract:  Fast-and-frugal trees (FFTs) are simple algorithms that facilitate efficient and accurate decisions based on limited information. But despite their successful use in many applied domains, there is no widely available toolbox that allows anyone to easily create, visualize, and evaluate FFTs. We fill this gap by introducing the R package FFTrees.