Ellen Peters, Director, Decision Sciences Collaborative



I conduct basic and applied research in judgment and decision making. I have been principal investigator on numerous grants from the federal government. In my research, I focus on how affective, intuitive, and deliberative processes help people to make decisions in an increasingly complex world. I study decision making as an interaction of characteristics of the decision situation and characteristics of the individual.

I have three major strands of research. First, my research interests in decision making include number processing and the study of individual differences in numeracy and an intuitive sense of numbers. In recent publications, colleagues and I have focused on the roles of numeracy and intuitive number sense with respect to how individuals process and use numeric and non-numeric sources of information in decisions. A second central strand of research concerns how affect and emotion influence information processing and decisions. Affect appears to have multiple functions in judgment and decision processes (as information, as a common currency, as a spotlight on information, and as a direct motivator of behaviors). Third, I am interested in how information processing and decision making change in complex ways across the adult life span. I am also generally interested in issues of risk perception and risk communication in health, financial, and environmental contexts, including how to present information to facilitate its comprehension and use.