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Relative Rank Theory: A Computational Model of Preferences, Choices, Attitudes and Opinions (EU Horizon 2020 Project)

Our differing preferences and attitudes make each of us unique. But how are our everyday choices related to our preferences, and how are the opinions that we express related to our underlying attitudes? In particular, how can we understand the phenomenon of opinion polarisation (as seen, for example, in people's opinions since the Brexit referendum in the UK), and how can we understand stable individual differences in people’s everyday choices when those choices are so strongly influenced by the context that the market provides?

This page summarises progress on our European Research Council (ERC) grant awarded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 788826) which is addressing these and related questions. Information will be added to this website as the project progresses.

Publications arising from the grant (see here for a full list of publications)


Achtypi, A., Ashby, N. J. S., Brown, G. D. A., Walasek, W., & Yechiam, E. (2021). The endowment effect and beliefs about the market. Decision, 8, 16-35. link (open access)

Brown, G. D. A., Huang, Z., & Lewandowsky, S. (in press). Social sampling and expressed attitudes: Authenticity Preference and Social Extremeness Aversion lead to social norm effects and polarization. Psychological Review.

Hattersley, M., Brown, G. D. A., Michael, J., & Ludvig, E. A. (in press). Of tinfoil hats and thinking caps: Reasoning is more strongly related to implausible than plausible conspiracy beliefs. Cognition. (link)

Quispe-Torreblanca, E. G., Brown, G. D. A., Boyce, C. J., Wood, A. M., & De Neve, J. (2021). Inequality and social rank: Income increases buy more life satisfaction in more equal countries. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 47, 519–539. link (open access)

Brown, G. D. A., & Gathergood, J. (2020). Consumption changes, not income changes, predict changes in subjective well-being. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 11, 64-73.link (open access)

Brown, G. D. A., & Walasek, L. (2020). Models of deliberate ignorance in individual choice. In Hertwig, R., & Engel, C. (Eds.), Deliberate Ignorance: Choosing Not to Know. Strüngmann Forum Reports, vol. 29, (pp. 121-137). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. chapter (open access) complete book (open access)

Hounkpatin, H. O., Wood, A. M., & Brown, G. D. A. (2020). Comparing indices of relative deprivation using behavioural evidence. Social Science & Medicine, 259, 112914.