Thinking About the World

Risk, judgement and decision making

We make choices every day

How do we come to those decisions? Does the way risk is presented to us change our choice? How do we judge what is right for us?

We study how people think, judge, take risks and make decisions in situations of uncertainty and risk.

Some examples of what we've studied include:

  • whether older drivers are taking appropriate risks when driving a car
  • whether people appropriately perceive health-related risks, climate-change-related risks, and risks of natural disasters and how should these be communicated to stakeholders to understand these risks better
  • what makes people choose to adopt environmentally friendly behaviours and ways of living
  • how should we design tube maps to facilitate quick and accurate decision-making of travellers
  • how family physicians make decisions about diagnosis and treatment options and how can we support them to do less cognitive errors in these decisions
  • how people judge whether something is fair or not
  • which factors influence people’s decisions to enact prosocial behaviours or to undertake happiness-enhancing interventions.

We are interested in understanding the socio-cognitive mechanisms of these high-level cognitive processes using experimental behavioural techniques and their biological underpinnings using neuromodulatory techniques such transcranial magnetic stimulation, as well as carrying out surveys, interviews and focus groups. We are also interested in the applied aspects of risk taking, risk communication and decision-making.

Many of us also research related areas of interest such as well-being, relationships, sex, and attraction, and justice, fairness and equality.

Recent publications

2020

2019

Academics

Dr Kathryn Buchanan

Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Also interested in: Well-being.

Dr Alasdair Clarke

Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Also interested in: Vision.

Dr Nicholas Cooper

Senior Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Also interested in: Health behaviour; wellbeing.

Dr Rael Dawtry

Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Also interested in: Political psychology; justice, fairness and equality.

Dr Anna Hughes

Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Dr Marie Juanchich

Senior Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Also interested in: Communication and language.

Dr Veronica Lamarche

Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Also interested in: Relationships, sex and attraction; meaning in life, trust, and interdependence.

Dr Matteo Lisi

Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Also interested in: Vision.

Dr Keith May

Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Also interested in: Vision.

Dr Maxwell Roberts

Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Dr Jonathan Rolison

Senior Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Also interested in: Health behaviour.

Dr Miroslav Sirota

Reader

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Also interested in: Communication and language.

Dr Wijnand Van Tilburg

Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Also interested in: Emotion; meaning in life, trust, and interdependence; relationships, sex and attraction.

Dr Motonori Yamaguchi

Senior Lecturer

Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Also interested in: Memory; motivation; emotion; relationships, sex and attraction; justice, fairness and equality; vision.

Energy smart meter
Impact: Making smart meters more effective at reducing household energy consumption

This research project from the Department of the Psychology looked at the long-term impact of smart meters on household energy consumption. The outlook wasn't promising...

Read our impact case study