I am an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where I'm also affiliated with the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative.
As a computational cognitive scientist, I am interested in the processes underlying human judgment and decision making, and applying our knowledge of such processes to problems in marketing and public policy. I use a combination of behavioral experiments and formal modeling, drawing on ideas and techniques from psychology, economics, marketing, Bayesian statistics, and computer science.
Previously, I was a Ph.D. student in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at MIT, where I was co-advised by Drazen Prelec and Josh Tenenbaum. Outside of the BCS Department, I spent about half my time with the Sloan marketing group.
If you're in Philadelphia, and interested in judgment and decision making, computational models thereof or applications thereof, please feel free to get in touch - I'm happy to chat!
Crowds, and their wisdom
My collaborators and I have proposed a new solution to extracting wisdom from the crowd: select not the "most popular" answer, but rather the "surprisingly popular" answer. That is, elicit from each respondent both their own answer and their prediction about the answers of others and select the answer which is more popular than the crowd itself predicts.
Prelec, D., Seung, H.S., and McCoy, J. “A solution to the single-question crowd wisdom problem” Nature, 2017, 541, 532-535.
In a working paper, we draw on these ideas to develop a statistical model for belief aggregation that operates both on separate and multiple questions, and additionally infers respondent expertise.
Ongoing projects in this space, with numerous collaborators, include aggregating information to predict consumers' purchases, aggregating continuous quantities for forecasting, aggregating information when the space of answers is unknown in advance, testing the psychological assumptions of our model, and using such meta-predictions for other kinds of tasks.
A method for understanding how people perceive groups or agents different to themselves - What one word would you say to prove that you're not a smart computer?
McCoy, J.* and Ullman, T.* “A Minimal Turing Test” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2018, 79, 1-8. [OSF link with pre-print, data and analysis]
- How people imagine choices involving various kinds of transformative experiences, from the perspective of metaphysics and cognitive science
McCoy,J.*,Paul, L.*, and Ullman, T.* "Modal Prospection", Metaphysics and Cognitive Science, eds. Alvin Goldman and Brian McLaughlin. Oxford University Press (US)
McCoy, J. and Ullman, T. (2019) Transformative Decisions and Their Discontents Part of a symposium on L.A. Paul’s ”Transformative Experience”. Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia, 10(3), 339 - 345.
How people imagine possible (magical!) worlds in the context of intuitive theories of physics
- Ongoing projects with various collaborators on the psychophysics of judgments scales, epistemic and alleatory uncertainty, false uniqueness, inferring others risk preferences, and other projects at the intersection of computational cognitive science and behavioral economics.
Individuals, and their curiousities
The other half of my research deals with how people formulate judgments and make decisions:
Graph theoryI have written some mathematics papers:
Henning, M.A., McCoy, J. and Southey, J. "Graphs with maximum size and given paired-domination number" Discrete Applied Mathematics, 2014, 170: 72-82.
Henning, M.A., and McCoy, J. "Which trees have a differentiating-paired dominating set?" Journal of combinatorial optimization, 2011, 22.1: 1-18.
Henning, M.A., and McCoy, J. "Total domination in planar graphs of diameter two" Discrete Mathematics, 2009, 309.21: 6181-6189.
McCoy, J., and Henning, M.A. "Locating and paired-dominating sets in graphs" Discrete Applied Mathematics, 2009, 157.15: 3268-3280.
Dorbec, P., Henning, M. A., & McCoy, J. "Upper total domination versus upper paired-domination" Quaestiones Mathematicae, 2007, 30(1), 1-12.