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

Dr Arvid Hoffmann's seminar slides on "How Does Investor Confidence Lead to Trading" are now online

29 October 2015

Dr Arvid Hoffmann, Associate Professor of Finance at Maastricht University, gave a seminar at Leeds University Business School yesterday and met with members of the CDR team.

The slides from his presentation - “How Does Investor Confidence Lead to Trading? Linking Investor Return Experiences, Confidence, and Investment Beliefs” – can be viewed here.

Dr Hoffmann’s research interests are interdisciplinary and bridge the fields of marketing and finance. In particular, he is interested in behavioral finance, consumer financial decision-making, financial services marketing, household finance, individual investor behavior, and personal finance. By integrating theories and methods from marketing as well as finance, he aims to better understand how individuals make financial decisions, such as investment choices.

Through his research, Arvid intends to inform public policy makers and practitioners on how to “debias” individuals and improve their financial decision-making through smart defaults, nudges, or primes. 

CDR's summer activity

10 October 2015

The CDR has had another successful couple of months, with numerous conference presentations, awards and invited positions.

·         Barbara Summers took up the elected role of President of the European Association for Decision Making.

·         Wandi Bruine de Bruin joined the programme committee of the Behavioral Decision Research in Management Conference (to be held at the University of Toronto Rothman School of Management, Canada), the editorial board of Medical Decision Making (impact factor 3.2), and the executive committee of Carnegie Mellon University's Centre for Climate and Energy Decision Making (US). She also became the chair of the Beattie Travel Award Committee at the Society for Judgment and Decision Making.

·         Wandi was keynote speaker at the Biennual Conference on Environmental Psychology hosted by the University of Groningen (Netherlands). She also gave invited presentations for practitioners and policy makers as well as researchers at workshops hosted by the Dutch Central Bank (Netherlands), Public Health England (UK), and the Impact Academy's Workshop on the Psychology of Sustainability (Netherlands).

·         Alan Pearman delivered the opening plenary lecture at the 2015 IEEE International Conference on Grey Systems and Intelligent Services, held in Leicester in August 2015. His paper was entitled Fifty Shades of Partial Information.

·         Wandi and Cäzilia Loibl gave invited presentations of their EU-funded work on ageing and financial decision making at the International Conference on Pension Management for international practitioners hosted the Finnish Centre for Pensions and University of Toronto Rothman School of Management (Finland)

·         Alan presented a paper at the EURO 2015 conference at Glasgow; Caezilia presented a paper at the IAREP-SABE Joint Conference in Romania, as did Simon McNair; and Sajid Siraj gave a presentation at BAM in Portsmouth as well as leading a professional development workshop.

·         Alan has been awarded a visiting research fellowship by the Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration at Kobe University, Japan. He is working there with former CDR visitor Professor Ken-Ichi Shimomura on joint work involving Barbara and Simon, looking at the evolution of equilibrium behaviours in two-person, non constant sum games. Alan is also lead academic on an EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account grant on Bayesian network modelling of pig disease symptoms.

·         Wandi received a grant from the US National Science Foundation with Carnegie Mellon University, to support interdisciplinary research activities in their Centre for Climate and Energy Decision Making (($5,997,094)



CDR Members Present a Number of Papers at the 25th SPUDM Conference

5 October 2015

Once again, the Centre for Decision had a good presence at the Subjective Probability, Utility, and Decision Making (SPUDM) Conference which was held in Budapest, Hungary. SPUDM is the European Association for Decision Making’s bi-annual conference which celebrated its 25th conference this August.

Barbara Summers, CDR co-director, took over as President of the Association, making her Presidential Address - “Reality can be quite complex…or how qualitative research can add insights to real world problems”.  She also presented the de Finetti prize for the best paper by a PhD student, as Chair of the prize committee.

CDR members were involved in 12 pieces of research presented at the conference:

·         ‘Thinking about numbers is not my idea of fun': Need for cognition mediates age differences in numeracy performance. Wändi Bruine de Bruin, Simon McNair, Andrea Taylor, Barbara Summers & JoNell Strough

·         Perceptions of Financial Volatiliy. Darren Duxbury and Barbara Summers

·         Foreign language and moral thought Janet Geipel, Dinos Hadjichristidis, and Lucia Surian.

·         The foreign language effect in judgments of risk and benefit: The role of affect. Dinos Hadjichristidis, Janet Geipel, and Lucia Savadori

·         Connecting financial literacy and planning with food hardship among children. Cäzilia Loibl and Anastasia Snyder

·         Hearts over heads? Age-related differences in moral decision making. Simon McNair, Yasmina Okan, Dinos, and Wändi Bruine de Bruin

·         Fostering informed decisions: How to encourage active processing of risk information using dynamic icon arrays. Yasmina Okan, Rocia Garcia-Retamero, R., Edward Cokely, and Antonio Maldonado

·         Meeting the challenge of designing graphs that promote both risk understanding and behavior change. Yasmina Okan, Eric Stone, and Wändi Bruine de Bruin

·         It's not just about local warming: Perceptions of weather and climate change in the UK. Andrea Taylor, Wändi Bruine de Bruin, Suraje Dessai and Carmen LeFevre

·         Incentive and Emotion in environmental decision making. Andrea Taylor and Barbara Summers

·         What Were They Thinking? Understanding Decisions to Discontinue Failing Plans. JoNell Strough, Wändi Bruine de Bruin, Andrew M. Parker, and Tara Karns, Philip LeMaster, Nipat Pichayayothin, Rebecca Delaney, and Rachel Stoiko.

·         Resistance to anchoring depends on crystallized cognitive ability: An individual-differences study. Fabio DelMissier, Cristina Tomarchi, Wändi Bruine de Bruin, Andrew M. Parker, Alessia Rosi and Timo Mantyla.

Simon McNair, who presented at the conference, says: “SPUDM celebrated its 25th iteration this year, and as always proved to be a stimulating and diverse conference. The quality of work being presented was fantastic, and highlighted researchers who are at the forefront of their areas in terms of progressing our understanding of the components and processes that underlie decision making.

“From my perspective, it was great to see such a wealth of new research on financial decision making and economic psychology. Of course, a key highlight was CDR Co-Director taking the helm as the new President of EADM, and delivering an engaging Presidential Address! The surroundings in Budapest were also beautiful, with the conference venues flanking the Danube river.” 

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