Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences Experts

James Kevin Doyle

Associate Professor
Social Science & Policy Studies
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
United States of America


Education: BA University of California, Berkeley 1982 MA University of Colorado, Boulder 1990 PhD University of Colorado, Boulder 1991 I am a social psychologist trained in the interdisciplinary field of judgment and decision making. I am particularly interested in how people develop an understanding of complex environmental and societal problems and how their "mental models" of complex systems can best be studied and improved to aid both personal and public decision making. I firmly believe that environmental and social problems can't be solved without understanding how they are represented in the mind and identifying what cognitive processes people bring to bear upon them. My interests are eclectic, and I particularly enjoy being a social scientist at WPI, where I have the opportunity to apply psychological research methods to problems at the interface of psychology, science, and engineering. I have a particular interest in the methodology of survey research, and enjoy working with student project groups to design, implement, and analyze surveys on a wide variety of topics to yield accurate and useful results. My classroom teaching focuses on cognitive psychology and its applications to improving cognitive skills and solving environmental problems. In my courses, I focus on teaching skills that students can apply to their daily lives. For example, on the first day of my course on improving cognitive skills I demonstrate that I have memorized pi to 500 digits; by the end of the term every student can perform an equivalent feat of memory. In my course on environmental problems and human behavior, I teach students psychological behavior change techniques that they then apply to reduce their own environmental footprint. If I achieve nothing else, by the end of the term there is less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than there would be if the students had taken some other course!

Research Interest

Mental Models of Complex Systems; Environmental Cognition and Behavior; Survey Methodology; Risk Perception and Communication


  • Doyle, J. K. (2005). Face-to-Face Surveys. In B.S. Everitt and D. Howell, eds., The Encyclopedia of Statistics in Behavioral Science. New York: Wiley.

  • Doyle, J. K., Radzicki, M. J., and Trees, W. S. (2008). Measuring Change in Mental Models of Complex Dynamics Systems. In Qudrat-Ullah, H., Spector, M. J., and Davidsen, P. I., eds., Complex Decision Making: Theory and Practice, pp. 269-294. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

  • Doyle, J. K., Saeed, K., and Skorinko, J. (2010). The Power of the Situation: Modeling Classic Experiments in Social Psychology. In Richmond, J., Stuntz, L., Richmond, K., and Egner, J. (eds.). Tracing Connections: Voices of Systems Thinkers, pp. 166-185. Hanover, NH: Isee Systems.

  • Skorinko, J. L., Doyle, J. K., and Tryggvason, G. (2012). “Do Goals Matter in Engineering Education? An Exploration of How Goals Influence Outcomes for FIRST Robotics Participants,” Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research.

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