Process Tracing: Methods and Applications

Lecturer (assistant)
TermSommersemester 2024
Language of instructionEnglish
Position within curriculaSee TUMonline


At the end of the module, students have knowledge of existing process-tracing methods and their functionality. Students also know which process-tracing method is most appropriate for a given research questions, which process measures can be collected with the methods, and how to interpret the measures. In addition, the students are familiar with the criticisms and limitations of the various process-tracing methods. Finally, they know exemplary cases illustrating how process data can be used to develop behavioral interventions—for instance, to improve people’s decision making.


To examine the psychological processes underlying decision making, several process-tracing methods have been developed—such as information boards, eye tracking, verbal protocols, skin conductance measurement, and functional neuroimaging. The methods allow researchers to track people’s predecisional information search and information processing, and to measure attentional processes and emotional reactions. This module gives an overview of exiting process-tracing methods and discusses applications of the methods. In addition, we will discuss the use of process data for developing and testing cognitive process models of behavior.

Teaching and learning methods

In short presentations, the students present empirical articles that illustrate applications of the various process-tracing methods. The module also involves small-group exercises, in which students develop experimental study designs with the process-tracing methods and get some hands-on experience operating them.