Rachel Stephens

Dr Rachel Stephens


School of Psychology

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Lecturer in Psychology

Research Areas: Inductive and deductive reasoning, category learning, face matching.

My primary research interest is human reasoning and its underlying cognitive processes, with the overarching question: how do people draw conclusions or make decisions based on new and existing knowledge?

My current main projects are testing influential dual-process theories, which propose that human reasoning and judgement is driven by two qualitatively different kinds of cognitive processes: One is often characterized as fast and intuitive, while the other is described as slow and deliberative. A major project I am working on with Prof. Brett Hayes (University of New South Wales) and Prof. John Dunn (University of Western Australia) involves testing whether dual-process theories are needed to account for inductive and deductive reasoning – assessments of whether a conclusion is ‘plausible’ based on some given information, or ‘logically follows’ from particular information, respectively.

Another project with Prof. Michael Kalish (Syracuse University) tests similar dual-process theories in the domain of category learning.

An important finding across this research is that despite the popularity of dual-process theories, key results that have been used to support them are consistent with simpler single-process theories. This suggests that the dual-process distinction may be unwarranted.

Another ongoing branch of my research with Dr Carolyn Semmler (University of Adelaide) involves face matching: decisions about whether two images show the same (unfamiliar) person. We are interested in when people’s confidence in a decision can be used to predict accuracy. Importantly, we examine the effect of rare non-matches, as occurs in some applied contexts such as border security.


PhD, Masters, or Honours Research Projects

Please contact me if you are interested in any of these projects:

1. Theoretical or applied research in reasoning and decision making, including under time-pressure or in high-stakes situations.

2. Training reasoning and critical thinking skills in educational or occupational settings.

3. Modelling the time-course of inductive and deductive reasoning.

4. Investigating the neuropsychology of inductive and deductive reasoning, e.g., EEG and/or fMRI research.

5. Exploring developmental changes in children's reasoning.

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2019 Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2015 - 2019 Postdoctoral Research Fellow University of New South Wales
    2014 - 2015 Postdoctoral Research Fellow Syracuse University
    2012 - 2014 Lecturer University of Adelaide
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2019 Teaching Award Executive Dean's Team Award University of Adelaide Australia
    2013 Teaching Award Executive Dean's Learning & Teaching Prize University of Adelaide Australia
    2009 Teaching Award School of Psychology’s Excellence in Teaching Award University of Adelaide Australia
    2007 Scholarship Australian Postgraduate Award Australian Federal Government Australia
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    University of Adelaide Australia PhD in Psychology
    University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Psychology (Honours)
  • Research Interests

I have extensive experience in undergraduate teaching in cognitive psychology, research methods, and statistics. In 2020 I am Course Coordinator for the online Graduate Diploma course, Research Methods, Design and Analysis (Online Teaching Period 1), and for Psychology 1B.

  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2020 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Testing dual-process theories of reasoning development The University of Adelaide Honours Minling Tan
    2020 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Testing cognitive theories of nutrition judgements based on food labelling The University of Adelaide Honours Seok-Jun Kang
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2019 - ongoing Member Fellow of the Psychonomic Society United States
  • Position: Lecturer
  • Phone: 83132817
  • Email: rachel.stephens@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Hughes, floor 7
  • Room: 7 10
  • Org Unit: Psychology

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