What is Decision Research?

Centre for Decision Research

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

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 academic disciplines.

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

Recent research activity

29 March 2017


Richard Hodgett has had his paper - “Supporting the multi-criteria decision aiding process: R and the MCDA package” – accepted for publication in EURO Journal on Decision Processes

Wandi Bruine de Bruin co-authored a chapter entitled "Individual differences in decision-making competence in different age groups (with Andrew Parker at RAND), to be published in M.E. Toplak, & J. Weller (Eds.) Individual Differences in Judgement and Decision Making: A Developmental Perspective. New York, NY: Routledge.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership

Richard Hodgett, Barbara Summers and Sajid Siraj have secured funding (£178,263) for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership in collaboration with All Around the World Ltd and Universal Music. The aim of the project is to develop a system utilising machine learning, artificial intelligence and decision science methodologies to support and enhance the identification of new musical talent and maximise the profitability of the talent identification process.

Media Coverage

John Maule features in two videos on The Economist Intelligence Unit. The first discusses the impact of stress on effective decision making, and why it forces us to rely on intuitive and bias prone thinking.

In the second video he discusses stress in the context of the record-breaking long-distance sailor Hans Bouscholte.

Baruch Fischhoff Tribute

A video is now available of the tribute for Baruch Fischhoff organised by Wandi Bruine de Bruin (chair), Maya Bar-Hillel, Ann Bostrom, and Andrew Parker at the Society for Judgment and Decision Making conference in Boston.

The Centre for Decision Research welcomes Astrid Kause to the team

21 February 2017

Astrid Kause has recently joined Leeds University Business School, the Centre for Decision Research, and the Priestley Centre for Climate as a new postdoc working on climate change communications. She is working in collaboration with Professor Wandi Bruine de Bruin (the Business School), Professor Suraje Dessai (School of Earth and Environment), and Dr Andrea Taylor (both the Business School and School of Earth and Environment).

Her research will combine insights from behavioural decision research and environmental science to understand and inform people's decisions about climate change. For example, she is presently developing a project that aims to help consumers to make more climate-friendly decisions about food. Currently, many consumers are motivated to behave more ‘green’ and to even spend more money, for example on food. They lack however simple and concrete tools to help them make more climate-friendly choices. Although climate experts have various recommendations for making climate-friendly food choices, it remains unclear which are the most effective and easiest for consumers to implement.

Astrid received her PhD from the University of Konstanz in Germany, and has also worked at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Germany) and the Santa Fe Institute (US).

CDR Co-Director Wandi Bruine de Bruin comments: “Astrid is an expert in developing simple strategies (or rules of thumb) that promote 'fast and frugal' decision making. Indeed, good decision making does not have to be time-consuming or complex, if you apply simple strategies. Astrid's research will help motivate 'green' consumers to be more climate-friendly without complicating their choices.”

Astrid comments: “In the Centre for Decision Research and the Priestly Centre I have found the perfect place to do my research – this environment is ideal for pursuing my overall research goal to help individuals make better informed decisions in the face of climate change. This includes transparent communications of climate evidence and developing a very simple toolbox with strategies helping us to substantially lower our carbon footprints. I am sure that my fascinating and exciting first days in Leeds are only the beginning of what will be a long and productive journey in a friendly, welcoming and very supportive team of colleagues.”

Member updates

16 February 2017


Barbara Summers has had the following paper accepted for publication: Duxbury, Darren & Summers, Barbara (in press), On Perceptions of Financial Volatility in Price Sequences, European Journal of Finance.

Gulbanu Kaptan has had the following two papers accepted:

  • Kaptan G., Fischer A.R.H., & Frewer L.J. Extrapolating understanding of food risk perceptions to emerging food safety cases. Journal of Risk Research.
  • Frewer L.J, Coles D, Dijkstra A.M., Kuznesof S., Kendall H., & Kaptan G. Synthetic biology applied in the agrifood sector: societal priorities and pitfalls. APSTRACT.

Wandi Bruine de Bruin had a paper accepted in the Journal of Economic Psychology, entitled "Measuring expectations of inflation: Effects of survey mode, wording, and opportunities to revise." (with Wilbert van der Klaauw at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Maarten van Rooij and Federica Teppa at the Dutch Central Bank, and Klaas de Vos at Centerdata)

She also had a paper accepted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, entitled "Eliciting probabilistic expectations: Collaborations between psychologists and economists". PNAS has an impact factor of 9.4 and ranks as the fourth journal in the world in the multidisiplinary science category of Incites Journal Citation Reports, after Nature, Science, and Nature Communications. The paper was co-authored with Baruch Fischhoff from Carnegie Mellon University.


Wandi Bruine de Bruin co-authored the new report released by the US National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the topic of "Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda." The report highlights the complexity of effectively communicating about science, especially when dealing with contentious issues, and proposes a research agenda to help science communicators and researchers identify effective methods. (http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=23674&_ga=1.222863259.1213463510.147489301) A presentation of the report, as given at the launch event in Washington DC on 10 January 2017, can be downloaded from http://sites.nationalacademies.org/cs/groups/dbassesite/documents/webpage/dbasse_176564.pdf

Research Grants Awarded

Gulbanu Kaptan received a grant from the German Research Foundation as a collaborator, with PI and Co-I’s from the Universities of Pennsylvania (USA) and Konstanz (Germany), and collaborators from the Universities in Brazil, Ghana India, Japan, France, and Mexico to work on a cross-cultural project on Why People eat in a Traditional or Modern Way (€286,180).

EU PROJECT ON IMPROVING EMERGENCY EVACUATIONS: Dr Natalie van der Wal received a 2-year EU Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (worth ~200k in euros) to work with Prof. Wandi Bruine de Bruin in the Centre for Decision Research and the Leeds University Business School. Dr. van der Wal is currently an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. The project will aim to improve speed and survival in emergency evacuations, through the combined insights from agent-based computer modeling, risk communication/decision research, and an advisory board of emergency responders.


Wandi gave a presentation at the Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging, and Retirement (NETSPAR) International Pension Workshop, Leiden, the Netherlands entitled "Measuring expectations of inflation: Effects of survey mode, wording, and opportunities to revise." (with Wilbert van der Klaauw at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Maarten van Rooij and Federica Teppa at the Dutch Central Bank, and Klaas de Vos at Centerdata)


Wandi gave an invited presentation on ageing and decision-making competence at the University of Huddersfield's Department of Psychology.

Gulbanu Kaptan was an invited speaker at the ESRC funded research seminar series on Food Options Opinions and Decisions (FOOD) that was held in Banbury on 17th January 2017. 

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