Dr. Christian P. Janssen

Assistant Professor
Experimental Psychology, Utrecht University (The Netherlands)

E-mail: c.p.janssen 'insert usual symbol here' uu.nl (best way of contact)
Phone: +31 (0)30 253 4582

Visiting address:
Utrecht University
Experimental Psychology
Heidelberglaan 1
Room H0.52
3584 CS Utrecht
The Netherlands

About me

I am interested in understanding adaptive human performance and strategic adaptation. How do cognitive characteristics, task characteristics, and context shape human performance? And how well can people optimize their performance given these constraints? I investigate these research topics together with students and colleagues at the Dep. of Experimental Psychology (in Dutch) at Utrecht University. Before starting in Utrecht I worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the Smith-Kettlewell eye research institute together with Dr Preeti Verghese to investigate strategies for moving the eyes efficiently both in healthy adults and adults with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). I also investigate a.o. performance trade-offs in multitasking situations (PhD research with Dr. Duncan Brumby at UCL, Interaction Centre). My PhD research was awarded with the Briggs Award for the Best Doctoral Dissertation by the APA. My previous research has also included the study of aspects of (reinforcement) learning & adaptation, performance and resource trade-offs, and the effect that psychological and environmental characteristics have on human performance and behavior. As a research strategy I conduct emperical studies and develop cognitive and user models.

I am a graduate of the UCL Interaction Centre. You can find my PhD thesis here: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1348372/ (awarded with Briggs Award for the Best Doctoral Dissertation by the APA)


September 2017
I will give a couple of public lectures the coming weeks:

  • September 7th 2017, I give a public lecture on autonomous driving as part of the science cafe in Nijmegen. See their website.
  • September 21st 2017, I give a public lecture on AI, Cognitive Science, and Automation at the SSR
  • September 28th 2017, I am an invited speaker at a summer school on Engineering Safety Critical systems, in Oldenburg Germany. The program of the summer school can be found here
  • October 23rd, 2017, I take part in a science cafe in Utrecht to discuss "intelligence". See the website of Studium Generale Utrecht
I also finished two new digital stories for my youtube channel. In these clips I explain my research in simple terms. You can watch the videos here:

May 2017
We are presenting our research at CHI on the effectiveness of pre-alerts to support handover in semi-autonomous vehicles. Here are the links to the paper:
Van der Heiden, R.M.A., Iqbal, S.T., & Janssen, C.P. (2017) Priming drivers before handover in semi-autonomous cars. Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. New York, NY: ACM Press. pp. 392-404 [Author version, Publisher version, video preview clip, Video clip of conference presentation]
You can watch Remo's presentation at the conference here:

May 2017
Another paper got accepted!
Farmer, G.D, Janssen, C.P., Nguyen, T. T., & Brumby, D.P. (in press). Dividing attention between tasks: Testing whether explicit payoff functions elicit optimal dual-task performance. Cognitive Science [Author URL, Publisher copy (open access)]

April 2017
Multiple papers got accepted:

  • Poos, J., Van den Bosch, K., & Janssen, C.P. (2017) Battling Bias: Effects of Training and Training Context. Computers & Education, 111, 101-113 doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2017.04.004 [Publisher URL]This work is based on Jackie Poos' research thesis that I supervised together with Karel van den Bosch at TNO.
  • Brumby, D.P., Janssen, C.P., Kujala, T., Salvucci, D.D. (in press) Computational models of user multitasking. Book chapter written for the book "Computational Interaction Design".
  • Kun, A., Van der Meulen, H, & Janssen, C.P. (2017) Calling while driving: an initial experiment with hololens. Proceedings of the 9th International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driver Assessment, Training and Vehicle Design. [Author URL]

March 2017
I gave a public lecture ("studium generale") about Cognitive Modeling (in Dutch). A video recording of the event can be found here: on the studium generale homepage

February 2017
Four abstracts from Utrecht were selected for poster or oral presentation at the Dutch traffic psychology meeting in The Hague, on April 5th. See the website: website. Remo van der Heiden will present our recent work on early alerts in autonomous cars; I will present work on EEG/ERP research in autonomous cars.

January 2017
I started a Youtube channel to share videoclips that summarize my research. This will be a work in progress and take some time, but the first clip is online now! here

December 2016

  • Our paper got accepted for CHI 2017:
    Van der Heiden, R.M.A., Iqbal, S.T., & Janssen, C.P. (2017) Priming drivers before handover in semi-autonomous cars. Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. [Author version, Publisher version, video preview clip]
    This work is in collaboration with Dr. Shamsi Iqbal from Microsoft Research and is the first paper of my PhD student Remo van der Heiden.
  • I was interviewed for Science News Five challenges for self-driving cars. I was asked what the big challenges are in autonomous driving for the next few years. My section is headed "human-robot interaction". Science news, Vol. 190, No. 13, December 24, 2016, p. 34. You can read the article here

November 2016 Nominated for "senior lecturer of the year" in psychology
I was very proud and humbled to receive news this week that I was nominated by my colleagues for the Maarten van Son "senior lecturer of the year in psychology" award.

November 2016 Paper accepted
A paper from my time at Smith-Kettlewell just got accepted for publication in Journal of Vision! In the paper we describe a method in which we try to teach people with macular degeneration to make more efficient eye-movements to compensate for visual sight loss. This was a very challenging project, in which I learned many new skills. I am very proud of the result
Janssen, C.P. & Verghese, P. (2016) Training eye movements for visual search in individuals with macular degeneration. Journal of Vision, 16(15):29, 1-20, doi:10.1167/16.15.29 [Publisher URL]

October 2016Three items:
- Congratulations to my former student Jackie Poos, who got nominated for the "Peter G. Swanborn prize" for social empirical research, based on her dissertation research with me and Karel van den Bosch at TNO. Jackie investigated whether games are an effective medium to reduce cognitive biases. More information can be found here
- October 6th: I was an invited speaker at the first international neuroergonomics conference in Paris (see here). I spoke in the session on driver distraction.
- October 9th: I will give a presentation to 80 children in the age range 7-12 on whether computera and humans think alike. See here

September 2016Two items:
- Research on my Marie Curie project has started. For the next two years I will investige in detail how well people detect and react to various alerts while driving in (semi-) autonomous vehicles
- Research by my student Iris van Hooijdonk has been published in an official report by the Dutch Ministry of Transportation. Iris observed how frequently cyclists and pedestrians run red lights at bridges. You can read the report here (including English summary): [RWS page]

August 2016 Congratulations to my MSc student Hidde van der Meulen. Work based of his masters thesis research got accepted for oral presentation at Auto-UI 2016. Hidde did his work at the lab of Andrew Kun in New Hampshire. The paper is called "Switching back to manual driving: How does it compare to simply driving away after parking?" by Van der Meulen, Kun, and Janssen.

July 2016 On September 1st I will speak at a symposium on Human Factors organized by Intergo, see The lustrum website.

June 2016 I joined the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies as an associate editor. IJHCS is ranked 1st out of all HCI journals by both Microsoft Academic Search and Google Scholar. I previously edited a special issue for this journal on multitasking and interruptions. You can find that special issue here. You can also read our editor's introduction to the special issue: [Author URL, Publisher URL ]

June 2016 I take part in various public lectures. On June 10th I am moderator at a student lead symposium on Human-Robot Interaction in Utrecht, organized by Incognito. On June 23rd I am invited speaker at a symposium on human multitasking, organized in Groningen, see here.

April 2016Our lab was on national television. The TV program "Galileo" filmed an item on multitasking: are men better than women? The item was viewed by almost 400 000 live viewers. You can watch a short snippet here:

March 2016 Congratulations to my PhD student Remo van der Heiden and Master students Elcke de Geus and Iris van Hooijdonk who will present their research as plenary talks during the Dutch "Traffic behavior days" (verkeersgedragdag). Website: Verkeersgedragdag.

March 2016 Congratulations to my PhD student Remo van der Heiden, who's MSc thesis work (also conducted in my lab and together with Dutch Ministry of Transportation) is on the short-list for the Vliegenthart thesis award for best MSc thesis in the social sciences. Final results will be announced in April.

January 2016 I was awarded a Marie Curie reintegration grant from the European Union to do more research on driver distraction, autonomous driving and physiological measurement. The reintegration grants are aimed at researchers who spent significant time outside of Europe and now want to lay the foundation for their own lab.

January 2016 The RTL TV program Galileo filmed an item in my lab. Galileo is a TV program that explains science to the general public. Presenters Manuel Venderbos and Shelly Sterk visited my lab to test how efficient people are at multitasking, and to see whether women are truly better at multitasking than men. You can see a picture on my Media page

October 2015 I was awarded funding from the Dutch Ministry of Transportation (Rijkswaterstaat) to investigate human behavior in autonomous driving. The project will form part of the PhD studies of Remo van der Heiden, for whom I will be the primary supervisor, together with Dr. Stella Donker and Prof. Leon Kenemans. More details will be released in due time.

September 2015 On September 13th 2015 I will give a public lecture on Alan Turing's work (specifically: the Turing Machine and Turing Test) followed by a screening of the film "The imitation game" at the Dutch Film Festival "Film by the Sea" in Vlissingen. More information can be found here: Film by the Sea Website. The lecture takes place in the "Omega" trajectory about art, science, artificial intelligence and memory.

August 2015 Expert opinion on turning down the radio when parking your car
I wrote on expert opinion for "Hopes and Fears", a New York based news website on the question "Why do people turn down the volume of the radio when parking their car". You can read my insight here: hopes and fears website.

July 2015 Organizing workshop on Cognitive load and In-Vehicle Human-Machine Interaction
In September I am organizing the 5th workshop on Cognitive Load and In-Vehicle Human-Machine Interaction preceding the ACM automotive User Interface conference in Nottingham, UK (see: www.auto-ui.org/15). I organize the workshop with some of the leaders in academia and industry, including: Andrew Kun (U. New Hampshire), Paul Green (U Michigan), Bryan Reimer (MIT), Ivan Tashev (Microsoft Research), and Thomas Gable (Georgia Tech). More information on the workshop and a call for position papers will follow soon. The website of the workshop can be found here.
In addition, I will be attending the workshop on User experience of Autonomous Vehicles (see: website other workshop, where I present my position paper "Multitasking in Autonomous Vehicles: Ready to Go?" together with Leon Kenemans.

May 2015 Journal paper accepted
A paper got accepted for publication at Plos One: Janssen, C.P. & Brumby, D.P. (2015) Strategic Adaptation to Task Characteristics, Incentives, and Individual Differences in Dual-Tasking. Plos One, 10(7): e0130009, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130009 [Publisher URL]

May 2015 Public lectures coming up
Over the next months I will give various public lectures on Artificial Intelligence, Modeling, and Psychology:

  • May 27: Invited presentation for 80-100 honors students of Utrecht's Science program. The lecture will focus on the role of cognitive modeling in Artificial Intelligence. See: Honors' students website
  • June 18: Invited presentation for our Artificial Intelligence students, organized by their student union Incognito.
  • September: Invited lecture at International Film Festival Film by the Sea. I will give a lecture related to AI and psychology, as part of a track focusing on science. More details to be released soon.

April 2015 Special issue released
Our special issue on multitasking and interruptions has been released:
Janssen, C.P., Gould, S.J.J., Li, S.Y.W., Brumby, D.P., and Cox, A.L. (2015) Integrating Knowledge of Multitasking and Interruptions Across Different Perspectives and Research Methods. Special issue for International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. Volume 79, Pages 1-126 (July 2015) [Overview of articles].
For our introductory article, please see:
Janssen, C.P., Gould, S.J.J., Li, S.Y.W., Brumby, D.P., & Cox, A.L. (2015). Integrating Knowledge of Multitasking and Interruptions Across Different Perspectives and Research Methods. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 79, 1-5. doi:10.1016/j.ijhcs.2015.03.002 [Author URL, Publisher URL ]

March 2015 Special issue in print
Our special issue on multitasking and interruptions for the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies is almost ready! All articles are in print. This includes our introductory article, in which we summarize the state of the art in the field and propose a research agenda for furthering research into multitasking and interruptions: Janssen, C.P., Gould, S.J.J., Li, S.Y.W., Brumby, D.P., & Cox, A.L. (2015). Integrating Knowledge of Multitasking and Interruptions Across Different Perspectives and Research Methods. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 79, 1-5. doi:10.1016/j.ijhcs.2015.03.002 [Author URL, Publisher URL ]

February 2015 Lots of good news!

  • A paper got accepted for the journal of vision - one of the leading journals on vision sciences. The paper is: Janssen, C.P. & Verghese, P. (2015). Stop before you saccade: Looking into an artificial peripheral scotoma. Journal of Vision, 15(5) article 7:1-19 doi:10.1167/15.5.7.[Publisher URL]. In this paper we investigate what strategies people use to perform an object-comparison task when part of the screen is hidden by an artificial scotoma (a blindspot). Apart from being motivated by theoretical work, this paper also forms a useful fundament for my more clinical work with patients who have macular degeneration (work done at Smith-Kettlewell, paper in preparation).
  • I received a small grant from Utrecht's Neuroscience and Cognition program group. The grant will be used to start a new research line together with Prof. Leon Kenemans and Dr. Matthijs Vink (University Medical Hospital) looking at the ability to detect and respond to unexpected events while multitasking in automated environments.
  • Recent work with Preeti Verghese got accepted for oral presentation at ARVO. The work is entitled "Scotoma Awareness and Eye Movement Training in Age-Related Macular Degeneration" and discusses our recent work that looked at ways to make eye-movements more efficient for patients with vision loss due to macular degeneration - one of the leading causes of vision loss. See also my description of this work here. ARVO is the largest conference of vision and eye researchers in the world, with over 11,000 attendants.
  • The work of my MSc student Kimberly Hulleman made it to the local papers. Kimberly is investigating the potential impact of autonomous driving on hazard detection. The research is being conducted at the SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research. Read the article here

July 2014 In October I will start as an assistant professor in experimental psychology at Utrecht University (The Netherlands).

June 2014 The formatted version of my latest journal paper is now online: Janssen, C.P., Iqbal, S.T., Ju, Y.C. (2014). Sharing a Driverís Context with a Caller via Continuous Audio Cues to Increase Awareness about Driver State. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 20(3), 270-284. doi: 10.1037/xap0000020 [Author URL, Publisher URL, Supplementary Material, Video]

April 2014 Lots of good news:

  • I received the 2014 Briggs Award for the Best Doctoral Dissertation in Applied Experimental/Engineering Psychology, awarded by the APA 21 division (American Psychological Association, division for applied experimental and engineering psychology, see their site). As part of the prize I am invited to give a talk at the 2015 APA meeting.
  • A journal paper got accepted, which reports on my work at Microsoft Research:
    Janssen, C.P., Iqbal, S.T., Ju, Y.C. (2014). Sharing a Driverís Context with a Caller via Continuous Audio Cues to Increase Awareness about Driver State. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 20(3), 270-284 [Author URL].
  • We are organizing a Special Interest Group meeting on Interaction Science at CHI on April 29th at 2 pm. Watch the video premiere: Here. For even more information on "Interaction Science at CHI, check this site.