What is Decision Research?

Left to right: Barbara Summers, Andrea Taylor, Yasmina Okan, Simon McNair, Wändi Bruine de Bruin, Richard Hodgett, Alan Pearman and Gulbanu Kaptan
Centre for Decision Research

Decision Research focuses on the way individuals, groups and organisations make decisions. It involves perspectives that are:

  • Descriptive - why and how decisions are made the way they are,
  • Normative - how decisions should be made in some ideal sense, and
  • Prescriptive - how can decision making be made more effective.

It is concerned with how people make judgments and take decisions, particularly in situations involving risk and uncertainty. The research has provided important insights into how and why people do what they do, why they make mistakes that can lead to poor outcomes for themselves and their organisations, and how we can use this knowledge to help them do it better.

Theories and findings from decision research have been applied extensively in such areas as political science, finance, marketing, health, medicine, management and the law. These applications have provided important insights into how decisions are taken in these areas, some of the errors and mistakes made by people, including experts, and how to improve these decisions.

The Centre

Founded in March 1996, the Centre brings together researchers from across the University of Leeds, and other local Universities, who have an interest in human decision making. Its strong multi-disciplinary focus has led to research collaborations across a wide range of disciplines e.g. Computer Studies, Business and Management, Psychology, Philosophy, Transport Studies, Health Studies, Medicine, Civil Engineering, Geography, Law, Education. Despite the different fields of application, much of this work is based on a broadly shared theoretical and methodological core.

Members of the Centre carry out a broad range of research, much of it funded externally, publish extensively in academic journals, edited books and practitioner journals, as well as presenting at major national and international conferences. 

Latest News

CDR members’ paper is tenth most accessed

10 October 2016

A paper written by Andrea Taylor (first author), Wandi Bruine de Bruin and Suraje Dessai was the tenth most accessed paper on the Risk Analysis website during 2015.

The paper – “Climate change beliefs and perceptions of weather-related changes in the United Kingdom” (2014) – is available to view online. You can see the full list of most accessed papers on the Wiley Online Library website.

Andrea has also had a new paper accepted: Otto J, Brown C, Buontempo C, Doblas-Reyes F, Jacob D, Juckes M, Keup-Thiel E, Kurnik B, Schulz J, Taylor AL et al. (In Press). Uncertainty: Lessons learned for climate services. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. (Impact factor: 7.929)

Dinos Hadjichristidis has had a paper accepted for publication in Journal of International Business Studies, ABS 4. The paper - "How foreign language affects decisions: Rethinking the brain drain model" - is co-authored with Janet Geipel and Luca Surian.

Economic psychology: the science of economic mental life and behaviour. Wiley: Chichester, (in the British Psychological Society Textbook series), edited by Rob Ranyard, has gone into production for publication in 2017, with chapters by Wandi Bruine de Bruin, Simon McNair, Cäzilia Loibl and Rob Ranyard.7.929

Andrea gave a talk at the International Conference on Climate Science and Climate Services in Exeter this month entitled: “Communicating Confidence and Uncertainty in Seasonal Forecasts”.

She also presented “Validating Communication: A test of strategies for communicating uncertainty in seasonal climate prediction” with Suraje Dessai at the European Meteorological Society Annual Conference in Trieste, Italy, in September.

Hannah Preston, who provides administrative and communications support for the Centre for Decision Research, has been promoted to Research Support Officer.

Action Plan Launched for Delivering Shared Decision Making in the UK

27 September 2016

Professors Hilary Bekker (School of Medicine, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences) and Barbara Summers (CDR co-director, Leeds University Business School) are part of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Shared Decision Making Collaborative.

The Shared Decision Making Collaborative launched their action plan and consensus statement for delivering Shared Decision Making in the UK on Monday 19 September 2016.

Over two years, three consensus meetings were held, overviews of evidence and practice were critically evaluated (eg patient decision aids), and all stakeholders contributed to draft statements and the future strategy for the collaborative.

The University of Leeds committed to undertaking research in the field of decision science and sharing that expertise with both NICE and NHS England, particularly on the interface between patient decision aids, the International Patient Decision Aid Standards and the Information Standard.

It builds on Professor Bekker’s partnership work with NHS-Rightcare to deliver 35 open-access, web-based patient decision aids and NHS-Advancing Quality Alliance shared decision making training to staff, and long-term collaboration with Professor Barbara Summers and colleagues from the Leeds Centre for Decision Research.

Summer Activities

12 September 2016

Conference papers and awards

Barbara Summers presented “Thinking About Decision Making on Behalf of Adults Who Can No Longer Make Decisions for Themselves” with Helen Convey and Janet Holt at the 13th World Congress of the International Association of Bioethics, Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), June 2016.

Rob Ranyard was invited to present “The psychology of borrowing and over-indebtedness” at the DFG Psychoeconomics Research Unit Workshop, Konstanz, Germany, June 2016.

Barbara Summers and Darren Duxbury presented “Risk Preference as Regret Control?” at the IAREP/ SABE 2016 Conference, Wadneningen, Netherlands, July 2016.

Caezilia LoiblBarbara Summers, Simon McNair and Wandi Bruine de Bruin presented “Pension Freedom Day in the United Kingdom: Liberation or Irresponsibility? At the IAREP/ SABE 2016 Conference, Wadneningen, Netherlands, July 2016.

Alan Pearman, Ken-Ichi Shimomura, Barbara Summers and Simon McNair presented “What can experiments tell us about strategic behavior in two-person, non-zero-sum games?” at the 28th European Conference on Operational Research, Poznan, July 2016

Barbara Summers gave an invited talk to the 3rd EADM Summer School for PhD students at Amsterdam University on “Taxing Decisions…and Some Issues in doing Research in Real World Contexts”.

Gulbanu Kaptan presented the paper ‘Food evaluations and eating decisions: are judgments contagious?’ (with Baruch Fischhoff from Carnegie Mellon University, US) in the symposium on ‘Why we eat what we eat: new findings in eating psychology’ at the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS) Conference in Aberdeen, on 23-27 August.


Del Missier, F., Ranyard, R., & Bonini, N. (2016). Perceived inflation: The role of product accessibility and attitudes towards inflation. Journal of Economic Psychology, 56, 97-106

McNair, S., Summers, B., Bruine de Bruin, W., & Ranyard, R. (2016). Individual-level factors predicting consumer financial behavior at a time of high pressure. Personality and Individual Differences, 99, 211-216

Strough, J., Bruine de Bruin, W., Parker, A.M., Lemaster, P., Pichayayothin, N., & Delaney, R. (in press).  Hour glass half-full or half-empty? Future time perspective and preoccupation with negative events across the life span. Psychology and Aging. (impact factor 2.7)

Wong-Parodi, G., & Bruine de Bruin, W. (in press). Informing public perceptions about climate change: A ‘mental models’ approach. Science and Engineering Ethics. (impact factor 1.5) 

Chin, A., & Bruine de Bruin, W. (in press).  Eliciting stock market expectations: The effects of question wording on survey experience and response validity. Journal of Behavioral Finance. (impact factor .33)

Rob Ranyard’s chapters in edited books:

  1. Ranyard, R. (Ed.) (2017). Economic psychology: The science of economic mental life and behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley. (forthcoming - to be published in 2017).
  2. Antonides, G. & Ranyard, R. (2017). Mental accounting and economic behaviour.
  3. Ranyard, R., Ashton, J. & Hebenton, W. (2017). Insurance behaviour and society.
  4. Ranyard, R., Del Missier, F., Bonini, N., & Pietrone, D. (2017). The citizen's judgments of prices and inflation.
  5. Ranyard, R. & Ferriera, V. (2017). Introduction to economic psychology: the science of economic mental life and behaviour.
  6. Ranyard, R., McHugh, S. & McNair, S. (2017). The psychology of borrowing and over-indebtedness.

All but the first appear in: Ranyard, R. (Ed.) (2017). Economic psychology: The science of economic mental life and behaviour. Chichester, UK: Wiley. (submitted to the publishers, July 2016).


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