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Research Projects

Behavioral Science in policing

Investigators: Ross Ritchie (WBS), Neil Stewart (Psychology), Kimberley Wade (Psychology). Amount £7,000

Many everyday practices within the criminal justice system—from the initial investigation of a crime through to the sentencing of an offender—involve complex psychological processes. We are exploring real world tasks and issues facing law enforcement personnel. Current projects are investigating how the police integrate start-of-shift briefing information into their decisions in the field, the factors that influence custody officers' assessments of risk, and whether the presence of a weapon in a crime scene impairs episodic memory.

‘Nudge Awareness’: Testing the long-term viability of libertarian paternalism

Investigators: Andrea Isoni, Chengwei Liu, Christopher Olivola and Daniel Read, All WBS. Amount: £2,000.

We are investigating how the libertarian paternalistic approach to public policy, or ‘nudging’, is moderated by what we call ‘nudge awareness’ – i.e. being aware of how and possibly why nudges are used. The findings will enable us to predict human behaviour (e.g. the extent to which people’s behaviours would change if they knew they were ‘nudged’) and to influence behaviour (e.g. develop more effective policies to help people make better decisions).

How does socially influenced judgement interact with quality judgement?

Investigators: Chengwei Liu, Jerker Denrell, both WBS. Amount £2,000

Action-dependent Beliefs in Strategic Situations

Investigators: Peter Hammond (Statistics), Ganna Pogrebena (University of Sheffield), Miguel Costa-Gomes (University of St Andrews). Amount £2,000

The framed nature of salience: Bridging the gap between attention and decision making research.

Investigators: Florian Kutzner (WBS) and Derrick Watson (Psychology). Amount: £896.

In this project we bridge the gap between attention and decision making research. We have started to demonstrate how attentional salience influences decision processes. So far we have found that decisons under uncertainty are made slow and serially when low salient stimuli are rewarding, but fast and in parallel when highly salient stimuli are rewarding. At the same time, the visual salience of stimuli was unaffected by the meaning attached to them. It appears that people react rationally to salience differences by adapting their decision processes.

Have you got a Behavioural Science research project you would like included here?

If so, please contact Ty Hayes (tyson dot hayes at wbs dot ac dot uk) with details

External Funding

ESRC Network for Integrated Behavioural Science

A £3.2M ESRC grant supports our collaboration with experimental economists at Nottingham and UEA to explore cross-disciplinary models of human behaviour and behavioural change and their implications for public policy formulation and evaluation. Members of the Behavioural Science GRP funded by this grant include Nick Chater, Graham Loomes and Daniel Read (all WBS), and Gordon Brown and Neil Stewart (Psychology).

Risk, Time and Society: The Behavioural Economics of Value

This £902 K Leverhulme grant is to explore whether and how people can reliably value goods and services and if, as we fear, they cannot, what this means for public policy. Research themes include intertemporal choice, choice under risk and uncertainty, and social choice. Members of the Behavioural Science GRP funded by this grant include Nick Chater, Graham Loomes, Daniel Read, and Neil Stewart.

Collaborative Research with Dorset Police

A new collaborative research project is now underway between the Department of Psychology and Dorset Police Force. The aim of the project is to improve driver education and driver behaviour. We have identified one of the key reasons that drivers are having accidents is that they were distracted at the time of the accident. It is estimated that a staggering 80% of road incidents are caused by driver inattention or distraction. Therefore we are investing our time into researching how and why people become distracted while driving. In addition we will be using the latest behavioural change techniques to assess and improve Dorset Police’s driver education classes. It is hoped that this research will eventually inform driving related policy and lead to changes in the driving environment, such as driver attitudes, roads and signage, throughout the UK. The project is supported by an ESRC DTC collaborative award held by Daniel Gunnell under the supervision of Dr Derrick Watson and Dr Melina Kunar.

The Bridges-Leverhulme Doctoral Training Centre

The Bridges Programme aims to provide PhD students with deep knowledge of contemporary research questions in the social sciences, and rigorous training in the mathematical and computational approaches needed to answer them. This programme is open to students interested in any area of the social sciences (e.g., Economics, Psychology, Political Science, or Sociology) or mathematical sciences (e.g., Statistics, Complex Systems, or Computer Science), and who are interested in bridging the boundaries between these domains. Bridges is funded by a £1M Leverhulme grant to Director Thomas Hills, Sascha Becker, and David Firth.

IARPA Grant: Open Source Indicators

The Open Source Indicators Program aims to develop methods for continuous, automated analysis of publicly available data, in order to anticipate and detect significant societal events, such as political crises, humanitarian crises, mass violence, riots, mass migrations, disease outbreaks, economic instability, resource shortages, and responses to natural disasters. Members of the Behavioural Science GRP supported by this grant include Tobias Preis and Suzy Moat.

ERC Advanced Grant: Cognitive and Social Foundations of Rationality

This €2 million award to Nick Chater allows him to focus on fundamental and applied research into the problem of rationality, and whether human actions are rational, and in what sense.